How to make videos - technical tips including cameras, audio, lighting, and editing -

Eric and I love creating videos together. What really makes us such a great team, is that I am very creative and visionary, while Eric is incredibly mindful of the details and what I term “technical stuff”. When I’m recording a video, I’m looking at the angle of the light, the composition of the shot, and the story it tells. Without Eric’s help, I sometimes end up with an overly long video complete with lousy audio and cheesy music. We really balance each other out.

Last week we had the opportunity to speak on telling stories through video at BlogHer Food 14. Below are Eric’s notes for teaching the technical side of video. This post does contain some affiliate links, which does not create any additional cost for you, just gives us a little tiny commission (if you buy something) to help keep Eating Richly running. We made sure to link to products we have used or have had recommended to us by other professionals.

  1. Camera
    1. You can use a cellphone just remember to hold it horizontally so the picture is wider than it is tall!
    2. Next step up is a $600 Camcorder which will have zoom and a better sensor
    3. After that is a DSLR which has better image quality but you need to be comfortable with the manual features of a DSLR. After using our camcorder for a while we saved up for a few years and now use the Canon 5D mkII. We recommend the mkIII which is even better, with the Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens.
    4. After that is a $5,000+ Pro camera, these are the big ones that you have to carry on your shoulder or use a tripod.
    5. Finally is a $20,000+ cinema camera like a RED or SONY.
    6. For YouTube and food videos you probably will not need anything more than a DSLR, You can always rent a camera or hire someone who owns the camera you want for a more complicated shoot.
  2. Audio recording – Quality of the video is at least half dependent on your audio.
    1. Get the camera or microphone close!
    2. RØDE VideoMic $150
    3. Wireless pack to pack microphone $630
    4. Zoom h6 portable recorder $400 Or H4n for $230
  3. Lighting
    1. Natural Lighting is the easiest and looks the best
    2. You can use a reflector, We use this and it is great!
    3. You can use daylight bulbs from the hardware store (just use them in a lamp) and fabric or paper to diffuse the light to make it nice and soft. Just be aware of the fire danger of having something flammable next to something hot!
    4. You can also purchase continuous lighting kits, those lights will work for photos or videos. Just make sure it’s continuous light, not a flash.
    5. Be careful not to mix light temperatures.
    6. Over exposure – Often times it is better for the video to be too bright than to be too dark, unless the emotion/hook you are going for calls for a dark and moody scene.
  4. Editing
    1. If you plan to edit, film for editing which means starting clips early and recording a few seconds afterwards.
    2. Software:
      1. Cheap = Windows Movie Maker & Apples iMovie $15
      2. Middle = Sony Movie Studio Platinum $50 & Final Cut Pro X $300
      3. Pro = Adobe Premiere Pro CC for $50 per month and Avid for $865
        1. Most people these days are using Adobe for its cost and because it works great with other adobe products like Photoshop, and it’s pretty easy to use.
  5. Music
    1. You need to think about music licenses and copyrights when it comes to music, if you use Creative Commons licensed music make sure that it allows commercial use, if you are making any kind of revenue or if you ever think that you will. You can also buy Royalty Free music for a one time cost that also comes with a license on what you can use it for and typically a YouTube video is covered at the lowest price!
    2. YouTube will force ads on your video that pays the owner if you do not own the music or it will be taken down. If you get a copyright strike on a YouTube video you will have to go to “copyright school” and if you get 3 strikes in 6 months you will have your account removed. Also a single copyright strike can affect some features of YouTube like custom thumbnails.
    3. Keep in mind that a video should be around 2 minutes so look for a song that would be easy to shorten.
    4. YouTube Audio Library
    6. Jamendo
    7. Triple Scoop Music
    8. ($20-60 a song)
    9. $1
  6. Fonts
    1. Font Squirrel for Commercial approved fonts.
    2. DaFont also is a great resource just double check the license!
  7. Uploading
    1. YouTube has the widest audience
    2. Vimeo is more artistic and has a better looking website. You pretty much have to pay to get a great experience. They also have a support forum with helpful moderators.
    3. If you are not sure how to embed a video from YouTube or Vimeo into a blog post check your blog software, with WordPress you do not need to use the embed html as they will do it for you when you paste a direct link to the video.
    4. You can also skip YouTube or Vimeo and embed it directly in your post.
    5. Make sure that if you have a related blog post to include the link in the video description.
  8. Audience building
    1. YouTube lets you put links called annotations to your other videos on the video to increase retention and engagement. You can only click these links from a computer, so make sure to put the links in the video description as well.
  9. How to post to social media, sharing
    1. The best way is to post manually on Facebook and Twitter, and not have it auto post from one to the other. If you post it manually each will create a thumbnail of the video instead of just a link. People are more likely to watch a video if there is a thumbnail.
    2. Make sure to include links to your websites social media in the description.
  10. Stats on engagement
    1. YouTube and Vimeo Plus both provide Analytics.
    2. Speaking of engagement you are more likely to get people to click on and watch your video if you use a custom thumbnail. If you trust YouTube or Vimeo to pick one it can often be an unflattering picture of you talking mid sentence. Videos that have words on the thumbnail get more views, so we create ours in Photoshop.
      1. These thumbnails get shrunken down to super small on phones so create a very basic thumbnail instead of one with fine details.

We want to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who attended our session. If anyone has any questions, or any great additions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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