Video is such a huge part of any SEO campaign these days. In fact, video might be the primary form of content on the internet today—it certainly produces more engagement and more interaction than just about anything (obviously, I’m writing this, so I still believe in the power of the written word, but it is worth giving video its due).
You Can Avoid Crummy Looking Videos
Here’s the only problem: there is a lot of crummy video out there. To be sure, there’s a certain aesthetic to poorly shot video. It has an air of authenticity. And it sometimes feel more “newsworthy” than a video with more polish. But in most cases, you’re not going to want to look like something an amateur shot on the fly.
So how can you make sure your YouTube marketing video doesn’t look like crap? Well, there are a few simple steps for that.
Step #1: Choose the Right Aspect Ratio
In film, video, and television, you need to pay attention to what’s known as an “aspect ratio.” This is, essentially, the ratio of the length of the screen to the height of the screen. We use the ratio to discuss the proportions of the screen because the same ratio works for any screen size (and screen sizes are so varied). For example, some common aspect ratios are:
- 1.85:1 – This is a common ratio for cinema and film (essentially, the length is 1.85 x the height)
- 16:9 – This is common for High Definition televisions and in the home
- 4:3 – This aspect ratio is rarely used anymore, but it was common among older televisions
- 2.39:1 – If you’ve ever seen films that have an even more widescreen appearance, it’s this ratio (sometimes called anamorphic).
It’s important that you select the right aspect ratio for your project. This requires just a little bit of knowledge about how film and cinema (and video) work. However, for most people 16:9 will be the optimal aspect ratio for your video project.
Step #2: Choose the Right Equipment
Most people who are making videos on a budget are going to use one simple tool: their smart phones. There are certainly some specialty companies out there and some professional videographers, and they’ll likely use some high-end video equipment. But for most people, that kind of equipment is going to be more trouble than it’s worth (unless you know how modern professional and prosumer cameras work, you’re better off leaving them alone).
Instead, you can use your smart phone. And modern smart phones have some incredibly good optics. You’re probably going to be able to get fairly decent video with your smart phone—if you shoot it right. In that regard, there are a couple of important things to remember.
Shoot in Landscape Mode
If you’re filming your video on a smart phone, you absolutely have to remember to frame it in landscape mode. Or, uh, turn your phone sideways. If you keep your phone upright, your video is not going to have the correct aspect ration and it will end up looking incredibly amateurish. So you want to make sure you shoot your video in landscape mode for the best possible results.
Don’t Forget About Sound
The second thing you have to remember is that sound is almost more important than your actual video. If your sound is rubbish, no one’s going to bother watching your video. So, if you’re going to be doing a ton of video, it might be a good idea to invest in a microphone. There are a significant number of high quality mics that attach right to your smart phone! (One popular option is a lav microphone that plugs right into your phone.)
Think About Lighting
The other thing to think about—the thing that most people neglect to think about—is lighting. Now, most standard film lighting consists of what is called a “three point lighting scheme.” Essentially, you have a strong key light on one side of the face. A weaker “fill light” on the other side. And a “hair light” or “fill light” that is meant to just highlight the top of the head.
It takes some time to be able to set up a lighting scheme with any kind of efficiency. That’s especially true when you don’t have any lights. Lights for film, television and video are ridiculously expensive, so it’s a good bet that most people won’t have lights. That’s okay. The simple fact of the matter is that most people will be using natural lighting in order to achieve the best possible end result they can.
One simple (an inexpensive) trick is to get yourself a big, white poster board. You can use this as a “bounce” (it bounces light, hence the name) to use as your “fill light.” It’s an excellent, low budget way to make sure that your subject has at least a little bit of interesting lighting.
Focus on the Point
One thing you want to make sure your video does—and the last piece of advice I’ll give you—is to make sure you focus on the point. What I mean by that is this: people have very short attention spans when it comes to video content. (That’s true for any type of content, but especially for video.) People are going to be ready to click away in a heartbeat.
So make sure you get to your point right away. For plastic surgeons (for whom I do a significant amount of marketing), this means wasting little time on a preamble and talking about the procedure in question. The same basic principle applies for a wide variety of subjects.
Hopefully these tips will help you with your next big video project. If you’re in the field of marketing, you’re likely going to have to deal with video at some point. It’s the next big thing—so it’s better to make sure you’re prepared for it.