7 Ways to do video better as a marketer

I’ve worked with a lot of video-based clients and I’m so surprised at how much passion and hard work each one puts into everything they do. What I’m equally surprised by is how misdirected that hard work can be. I make videos specifically for destination marketing, but I can’t go to every org in the country, so I thought I’d put together a list of 7 ways organizations can do video better themselves.

#1 Use the jump cut, use all the jump cuts

A lot of people have asked me how to make their videos look more “hip.” By this I think they mean how to make videos that look modern and as though they were produced recently. The easiest way to make a video look modern is using the jump cut. Meaning, cutting off sentences right when they end. And cutting actions right when they end. When you shoot a video you’ll have someone or something doing an action, you want to compact that action as much as possible.

Here’s an example of the same segment with and without cuts:

It’s subtle, but the second version felt better, right? The reason that this makes the video feel “modern” is because of our short attention spans. Viewers nowadays are busy people and don’t want to waste time on what they consider a “long” video. Even if your video is only 1-min long, it needs to also look like it’s short and to the point. On the flipside, you can have a 5-minute video that feels like a 1-min video. We removed less than 2 seconds from the clip, but it makes a difference even if it’s not noticeable.

Length of video isn’t as important as how many cuts you make. Make lots of cuts.

#2 Use more b-roll than on-camera segments (a lot more!)

The most common mistake I see in videos is a shortage of b-roll. For those unfamiliar with the term, b-roll is when you’re showing video clips that are demonstrating something other than the main action. If you are shooting a concert for instance, your main action would be the singer who is singing the song. The b-roll will be shots of: the guitar, the drums, the crowd, the speakers, etc.

In your videos you should be using 80% or more b-roll, even if the person who is talking on camera is in the middle of talking. Here’s an example of the same segment with and without b-roll:

The second segment felt a lot longer right? There were no cuts made, just added b-roll. Keep in mind that where you position your b-roll also effects the pacing of the video. B-roll is the single most powerful way to add creativity to your shots.

Shoot lots of b-roll for a successful final video.

#3 Use speed and slow-mo

This is probably the easiest effect you can do. Another aspect of making a video look modern is manipulating speed. To make a video feel more dynamic, always add a few shots that are either sped up or slowed down. Most cameras today can shoot some type of slow-motion, but even if yours can’t, you can always speed clips up. This again tells the viewer that there’s no fluff in this video, it’s all go, go, go. Here’s an example of a segment with and without speed effects:

Obviously the first version is way better. But did you notice how even simple stuff like the lights turning on in the cave looked way better sped up? This effect is super easy to do. In most software it just involves right-clicking your clip and selecting “speed/duration” and typing in your desired speed. You can always google this for your particular software though.

If all you do is add this one effect only, your videos will look way fresher.

#4 Don’t use a script, use talking points

Some might disagree with this, but they’re wrong. While using a script is good for some videos, if you want to make authentic videos (and who doesn’t) then using talking points is much more effective. It allows for improvisation and natural wording, not to mention less stress on the actors or hosts.

Writing a script can be useful in smoothing out your video, but I prefer writing a script which I then reduce into talking points, rather than the other way around. Here is an example of a scripted video and a talking-points video:

Both of these videos had a lot of pre-production work done to make them happen, but the second one feels far less scripted…because it was.

Creative videos are made by being creative, not by scripts

#5 Stop adding adjectives

The biggest problem we’ve found when we go to shoot these travel videos is that the client has “improved” the video by adding adjectives to the script. Here’s an excerpt from a recent script we had:

“Hiking across the majestic, awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains, happy visitors can find fun-filled adventure around every corner.”

It looks great when you read it, but when you have a host who needs to memorize and deliver it, it becomes a nightmare. Not only does this sound awkward, but it screams inauthentic. It makes your video feel overly produced and like an ad. Stay away from adding more than one or two adjectives per sentence. Remember, this is a video, people will see the awe-inspiring mountains, so they don’t need to be told that.

Show, don’t Tell.

#6 Embrace the look

If you have a small budget chances are your video won’t look like a major Hollywood production. This is a good thing.

Having an overly produced video can actually hurt its appeal. Visitors are so overwhelmed with ads these days that they’d rather hear a youtuber talk for 10 minutes rather than watch an ad for 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter that both the youtuber and the ad are showing the same destination, its all in the perspective. Whether you have a small budget or big budget you should be striving to make your video look as little like a commercial as possible. This means using handheld shots, quick cuts, and a real person rather than a scripted actress.

Take a look for yourself. Which of these two feels less like an ad and which makes you feel more intrigued:

Authenticity can be made, but it can’t be faked

#7 Sound > Picture

Now, its very important that we don’t interpret point #6 as an excuse for making a crappy video. There’s a difference between having a low-budget authentic look and a careless look. The biggest giveaway to a low-budget production is sound.

Sound is crucial. Always have good sound. PLEASE pay attention to sound. I really can’t stress this enough. It is 1000 times more important to have high-quality sound than it is to have high-quality video. Pretty much all cameras these days are HD, so the only piece of equipment you should be investing in for your production is a solid mic or recorder.

You have a few options for this. We use the Sennheiser G3 mics, but you can also use a Rode Shotgun Mic or Zoom H4N. I like to recommend the H4N because it’s cheap and easy to use. All of these are equally good for your purposes though. To make this point crystal clear, here are two clips about San Francisco, tell me which you prefer:

Now if all these tips seem overwhelming to you, don’t worry. Video is an overwhelming topic and something people make entire careers out of doing. But, just because you can’t be a pro at all of these things at once, doesn’t mean you can’t start improving. Pick one of the above and start adding it to your video making repertoire.

As always, I hope this helps you improve, it’ll warm my heart if it does.

If you have any questions, you can find me on twitter @BogdanYZ where I spend most of my idle time. And you can see our videos and hire us at PixelPressDigital.com

Happy shooting!

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