THIS ARTICLE IS FOR YOU IF…
→ You want to start creating great videos for your own business.
→ You want to improve the quality of the videos you’re already creating.
→ You don’t fully understand or are intimidated by the thought of doing video production yourself.
→ You can’t afford to hire a legitimate video production company, but understand that if you don’t include video in your business, you’ll likely be soon out of business.
Many brands, especially small companies, are intimidated by video production. Video production seems like a big ordeal, and if you want a viral video it often is. But, as a creator of viral videos and the chief creative genius of a viral video production company, let me be the first to say: videos don’t need to go viral in order to have a massive impact on your business (and there is a good argument against viral videos in many cases). Video production does not have to be a big ordeal–in terms of cost or complexity!
As I help small businesses identify the basic elements of every video production, most realize they can easily create much more interesting, entertaining videos than they’re currently doing. And best of all, they can do it without professional cast or crew, and without exhausting much by way of money or time.
If I ask the average person what the elements of video production are, they’ll usually list (in approximately this order): cameras, lights, actors, director/crew, script, editing, special effects, sound. Unfortunately, these are all the more intimidating elements of a video production that most people know very little about.
Here are the Seven (Basic) Elements of Video Production! (There are really only two–what we see and what we hear–that’s it! But those two break down simply likewise…)
WHAT WE SEE
LOCATIONS (where it’s filmed). If what you’re doing or saying isn’t especially interesting, do it or say it somewhere that is. You can film your videos in your home or office, but with a little bit of thought, you should be able to come up with a much more interesting location.The Piano Guys basically built their hugely successful channel on this simple concept. Watching someone play piano or cello isn’t terribly interesting, no matter how good they are, but it can be if they are playing in the Grand Canyon or on a moving train.
CHARACTERS (who is in it, sometimes actors). If what you’re doing or saying isn’t especially interesting, have someone who IS especially interesting say it. Consider “Girls Don’t Poop,” the Poo-Pourri commercial I wrote and directed:
I could have had any “regular” Joe Schmoe or Jane Doe in jeans and a t-shirt do the exact same dialogue, and it would have been funny, but isn’t it much more funny if a refined, fancy-pants British woman says it? (This is one reason why accents in general are becoming increasingly popular in marketing, because they are more interesting to the listeners.)
COSTUMES (what the characters wear). If you can’t do accents or afford to pay an actor, don’t worry, creating a character is as easy as putting on interesting clothes. Actress Diane Keaton made her brand by dressing in a unique style; image consultants famously make millions business-men to wear a cowboy hat; and you can stand-out by wearing something unusual, instead of dressing normally, because it catches attention. And keep in mind, you don’t have to limit yourself to one costume per character; in this commercial I wrote and directed for MiniBini, we changed the lead’s dress throughout so the women watching the spot could delight in the cute dresses. (Notice the accent, too.)
PROPS (what items we see). If you’re on a low-budget, consider how simply by having interesting items to illustrate what you’re saying can make a big difference. Though some of the videos I wrote, produced and directed for Orabrush eventually had big budgets, Orabrush’s most successful video was produced for $500. Here it is:
Notice how as the character rants adamantly his wardrobe and especially props illustrate his points. This video sold–and almost 10 years later, continues to sell–millions of dollars worth of tongue cleaners, basically on the strength of smartly chosen props.
ACTION (what characters do). A lot of interesting action can be difficult to film (car chases, etc.), but if you or your actor can do something interesting (juggle, dance, stand on your head, etc.) it would be more interesting to hear whatever it is you have to communicate while you’re doing that than just watching a person sit or stand there talking at me. (And it would help us get to know you or your brand’s personality.) Ask yourself what the characters can do to make them more interesting to watch? As an example, watch this Pocket Hose informercial I wrote and directed and notice all the action that happens–very little of which has to do with showcasing the product. (In this case, the actor’s skills with trick roping and gun spinning drove the action and created the character.)
WHAT WE HEAR
DIALOGUE (what people say). First of all, a rule: when speaking to your customers, be on-camera! Use voice over very sparingly if at all. Unless you have incredibly interesting visuals to go along with them, an on-camera character is almost always more interesting than a voice (and on-camera sells much better than VO). Next, say whatever you have to say in the most interesting way possible–even if that means it is not in the most professional way possible.
SOUND EFFECTS and MUSIC. If you have the skills (or budget), jazz up a video with sound effects and royalty free music. They are free or cost very little. But every other elements I’ve listed is usually going to be much more powerful, so if you don’t have the skills or budget, don’t sweat this element.
What about cameras? A smart phone will do fine. Lights? Usually in the ceiling–also, a little thing called the sun. Crew? Who needs a crew? A friend or co-worker can hold the camera, or set your phone on a stack of books on top of a desk. Editing? If you can’t shoot your video in one-take so no editing is required, watch a brief tutorial on iMovie, and you’ll be good to go.
Have a script, but don’t worry what format it is; it doesn’t matter as long as you and anyone helping you can understand it. Besides that, scripts from the biggest advertising agencies in the world come in different formats.
Your only concern should be making your script as interesting as possible, in terms of what we see and hear, and that will be much easier now that you understand each element of video production. Now, as you go to create your next video, consider each independently and be creative in using them!