How to Make a Good Video on a Budget

How to Make Your Videos Look Professional

Videos are an easy way to build trust, convey complicated ideas, and showcase your brand. However, outsourcing video production can be extortionately expensive. Creating videos in-house is an easy way to maintain creative control, increase the number of videos you have, and keep costs down.

In this new video, Expert Market video producer Ben Tivnen talks you through our top tips for how to make a great video on a budget.

Read the video transcription

1. Reduce Background Noise

One of the most important things to get right with your videos is ironically to do with the part that you hear. Bad audio will instantly pull a viewer out of your video, and make your project seem low quality. Invest in a lavalier microphone if you will be performing interviews. Be sure to turn off AC units, refrigerators, and close any windows to cut down on background noise. Record one 10 second section of ‘silence’ in your room to be used later during the edit.

2. Cut Down Echo

If you are having issues with echoey rooms, hang or drape blankets on furniture in the room, and put rugs on the floor. Filling the room with people or large objects will help to cut down as well. Having one person in charge of audio will make sure you are recording high-quality sound.

3. Minimize Mixed Lighting

Being in control of the color temperature of your lighting is very important. It helps to give your footage a professional look and is more flattering for your subjects. Purchasing professional lights like LED’s will give you the most control, but it can be done through cheaper methods as well.

You can use a china ball lantern for soft lighting, or work lights for cheap powerful lighting, and of course natural light from windows. The key is to make sure your lights all have the same color temperature. You don’t want to have orange tungsten lights in your office lighting one side of your subject, while blue daylight from your windows fill the other side. Turn off the lights in your location if you can and make sure you are in control of the light.

4. Choose an Appropriate Background

If you are filming an interview, you may want to purchase a backdrop to give your video a studio-feel. If your video has a more casual feel or you want a sense of authenticity it is probably better to shoot in a more natural environment like your office, or outdoors. When shooting outdoors make sure to film during overcast days, mornings and evenings, or in shaded areas to utilize the best lighting opportunities.

5. Be Conscious of Your Framing

Decide whether you want the subject centered in the frame and delivering the dialogue directly to camera, or more casually towards an interviewer off-camera. The style of your video will dictate which you choose. When filming with the subject looking away from the camera make sure you leave ‘head room’ on the side that they are speaking towards. Imagine drawing a speech bubble in front of their face, and make sure your framing has left enough room so you can ‘see’ the speech bubble. This stops the video from feeling claustrophobic for the viewer.

6. Use Your Staff as Your Talent

Utilizing your internal team for your videos is an easy way to save money. Also, it gives you the added benefit of familiarity, rapport, and removes some of the awkwardness of working with someone you don’t know. Your videos will benefit from a much more authentic and relaxed feel.

7. Make a Shotlist/Storyboard

Planning your shoots beforehand is crucial. It helps you to foresee any problems and come up with solutions before they occur. Create a shotlist describing the action, camera angle/framing, and location of each shot. For more elaborate videos, going one step further and creating a storyboard (even if it is crude) will help you immensely in visualizing the shoot before you film it.

Video Transcription

Audio!

If you’re new to videography, the biggest mistake you can make is to focus on slick, professional visuals and then completely ignore the sound.

Your audience can actually be pretty forgiving of issues in the video quality but trust me, there’s nothing like poor audio to ruin the illusion and make you look like an amateur.

Seriously. If you’re going to buy one piece of equipment, get a decent microphone. Place your microphone as close as possible to your subject; close all the windows; switch off the air conditioning; turn off the fridge and do your best to kill any other unwanted noise.

Hang blankets or place them on the floor to dampen echo. Your ear does a great job of tuning all these distractions out but the microphone will pick up everything and your audio will sound much better in a silent room.

Composition!

Right, now you need to frame your shot. If you are shooting an interview, you want your subject at an angle, but not in profile. Centering your subject isn’t very aesthetically pleasing but weighting your subject to the wrong side feels tense and claustrophobic, which is great for a prison documentary but not for, say, a corporate recruitment video.

And don’t go too wide. Your audience want to connect with the subject’s facial expressions so zoom in or just move closer. Careful though, too close and you’re back to claustrophobic. There we go.

Also, keep that camera steady. Shooting video handheld will give you some pretty horrible footage. Mount the camera on a tripod to keep it perfectly still - or for a really low budget, just balance it on something sturdy.

The difference between footage shot just in your hands and the same shot stabilized is pretty huge.

Lighting!

The most important thing to remember about lighting your video is LIGHT YOUR VIDEO! Not everyone can afford expensive studio lighting like this but the sun is the most powerful light in the world and it’s free!

Use the nearest window to your advantage but remember, the best time to shoot is on an overcast day so the light is flat and super consistent.

However, don’t mix light sources! All lights have a specific colour temperature and mixing these can look weird so try to match them together. If you’re using daylight which is really blue on the color spectrum then switch off any indoor lights which can make your talent look orange or green.

On the flipside, if you can’t adjust the lighting then close the blinds and stop the sunlight creeping in! You can get pretty good results from any lighting options you have on hand, as long as you take the time to consider how you are using them.

And that’s it! If you want to see tips on anything else then stick it in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe!

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