When it comes to shooting mobile or online video, the easiest way to piss of a videographer is to shoot something vertical. I often grab friends phones and “fix” the way they are shooting. For a long while, it was a big pet peeve.
But, as with all things today, times have changed. By that, I mean WHERE we consume media has changed. If you own a smartphone (more than 80% of you do) then you’ve probably watched a video on it. This is where the problem occurs. YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting sites still favor widescreen formats and users tend to rotate their phones when on those sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other social networking sites, though, tend to favor the profile or vertical positioning.
Studies show that we spend upwards of 90% of our time with our phones in the vertical orientation. Because we use these sites vertically, consumers have gotten used viewing information in the manner. Yes, you can upload widescreen video to these sites, but on mobile, they take up less screen real estate. This means that when presented, consumers tend to scroll by it. Either because it doesn’t fill the screen or they don’t want to have to turn their phones.
The answer? Shoot for the edit. It’s an old fundamental for videographers and filmmakers; know what the end product is supposed to look like and how it will be distributed and shoot for that. If your video is getting posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and so on, shoot it horizontal and leave room to crop for mobile. This way you can maximize all screens. If it’s only going on mobile heavy sites, shoot vertical. This goes for cell phones and video cameras. Most of us are using DSLR’s and shooting vertical is quite simple. This way you can upload true HD quality video to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook if you want.
Like I said, times are changing. This proves though, yet again, that while devices, consumption, and tech may change, knowing the fundamental basics of media production is always the best solution. If you want some guidance on best sizes and practices for mobile content, check these out:
“How do I succeed online?”
“How do I get my name out there?”
“What does a small business need to know about video?”
“How do I get started?”
Every year we hear a lot of the pain of local marketing while at NEPA BlogCon, the first, one and only social media and blogging conference in PA. Video, podcasts, production as a whole have come up each year, Getting Started with YouTube was even a presentation last year.
Park MultiMedia is proud to have not only attended NEPA BlogCon from year one but to record all sessions on video for anyone to reference online. This year Park Multimedia will also be on hand after the sessions for online video marketing advice at the NEPA BlogCon Expo Hall (new this year!) To get ready for the expo hall – we’re putting Park Multimedia’s own Dan Kimbrough on the hot seat with some popular local marketing questions. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you better listen up!
1.Hi Dan! Number one question, can I use my iPhone to shoot my video?
Can you, yes! Should you, well that depends on the goal of the video.
Most modern cell phones (past 2-3 years) can shoot in HD resolution. This will give you the same pixel quality as a professional camera. The difference being that professional cameras have bigger lenses, a better zoom and focus control and handle light better.
If the video is supposed to be fun, quirky, ‘day of the life’ or behind the scenes focused, sure! Grab your phone (turn it sideways!) and shoot away. YouTube, Instagram and many other sites have made us accustomed to seeing this kind of video. While not always professional quality, it’s a great way to connect with clients and give your business a personality to set it apart from others. They are like little home videos we share with the world.
If you want a professional video, that has all the bells and whistles that come with it being ‘professional’, you should hire someone. Having a camera (on your phone or otherwise) doesn’t make you a professional. I have golf clubs, but Tiger Woods I am not! Often times as business owners we want to save a few dollars here and there, but when it comes to your image…hire a pro.
2. How do I prep for a video shoot? Both as a shooter and the talent? Anything to do when prepping in PA?
Preparation is the single most important thing you can do to make a shoot go well. Whether you are the shooter or the talent, you need to make sure you have done your homework and are thoroughly prepared the day of your shoot
Shooter – The first step for any shoot is to make sure all your equipment is ready and what you need is packed. Batteries charged, cameras working, tripod, lights and microphones are in working order. Make a checklist so that you always know you have what you’ll need on hand.
Another good idea is to always have a backup location ready. The summer weather in PA can be pretty crazy. Wet one minute, hot another…just a crazy American summer. If you plan to shoot outdoors, have an indoor backup. It’ll save you time, talent and equipment.
Speaking of equipment – always use a tripod or some sort of camera support, always. Trained professionals still have some sort of support for the camera, always. Shooting handheld is difficult, don’t ruin your shoot trying to stand perfectly still.
Also, when it comes to equipment, keep it simple. Get a tripod or support, some sort of microphone, cheap lights and a camera. Practice with what you can afford and get good with it. If money comes pouring in, buy better. But for now, just get shooting.
Talent – Know what you’re doing. If it’s an interview, research the subject. Know how to pronounce their name. Already know the simple questions (where are they from, how they got started, etc.) so you can get to meatier ones. Talk with the shooter, know what the piece is and where it’s going. Is it just for a sound bite? Will you be on camera? How will the interview be used? The more you know beforehand, the better ‘talent’ you will be.
Also, and this may sound weird, always have a mirror or compact. Male or female, keep one handy. As a seasoned producer, I usually have one in my gear bag, but if you’re working with a newbie, they may not. You want to look your best, the shooter just wants to get the footage shot. You’d hate to start and realize BBQ sauce from lunch is hiding on your face. The shooter may not even notice with all they are setting up, so it’s on you to make you look good.
3. What’s the best format of video to shoot in?
The short answer – the same format that the editing software or the destination prefers. The problem is that not all cameras allow you to decide what format you shoot in.
If you’re working with an editor, ask them before you start shooting. While they can probably work with whatever you give them, or let you know specifically what they can’t use, it’s better to ask first.
If you’re editing on your own and you can’t change the format or match what you’re editing software needs, video conversion is your answer. Conversion allows you to change from one format to another. For most consumer cameras, MPEG Streamclip works well. It’s pretty straightforward in allowing you to pick your a format, change the size, how big the file is and other features. What’s also great…it’s free. I would suggest exporting as an MPEG-4 (see below).
4. VCR’s are dead, right? If I’m working with a video export tool or a videographer, what type of format should I request for my final format? What’s the most useful format?
Unless you still have the entire Disney Vault on VHS, VCR’s have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. The most versatile format of video, right now (who knows how long anything will stay relevant) is probably MPEG-4 (.mp4).
Without getting too technical, if you’re using a video export tool look for H.264 with a .mp4 extension. Just about all computers will recognize this with their default video player. On Windows it’s Movie Maker and a Mac it’s Quicktime. Also, this type of video works well with uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other online video websites.
If you’re getting video back from a videographer or editor, still go with the .mp4 as a digital file. I would also suggest getting the files on a DVD-ROM (not playable, but as data) as a physical backup. You never know when a computer or hard drive will reach the end of the road and this way you have your video safe, in a physical format.
I live in NEPA – the land where the sun never shines, how do I make my shoot look good?
Actually, the lack of sun works in our favor. One of the biggest tells between professional and amateur video is the lighting. Too dark, too light, too many shadows are all signs that a professional wasn’t consulted.
If you’re shooting outside, overcast is ideal if you don’t have lights or a way to diffuse the bright sun. Overcast minimizes shadows and bright spots in your video and gives a nice even look. You never want to shoot too dark or bright as it’s hard to correct, so our cloudy days make for great shooting. If it is too bright, find some shade under under the abundance of PA trees or use a building to block the sun.
Other things to consider when shooting outside include paying attention to surrounding noises. You want to make sure you can hear your talent and not the cars behind them. Also, objects in the background. Parks make a great setting, just make sure you don’t have trees growing out of your talent’s head. The same goes for urban/city setting. Power lines going in and out of your talents ears can be distractingly funny.
Did we answer your video marketing question? Hopefully not! We hope to see you (yes, you!) at the conference this September 12th in Stroudsburg.