Carrying on with work while the COVID19 Pandemic paralyzes many aspects of life can make us feel like we’re the orchestra that continued to play as the Titanic sank into the ocean. But DIY (Do It Yourself) video can be the lighthouse your business needs to navigate through these dark times. Here’s how to do it.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve found myself in endless hours coaching clients on how to keep media plans moving forward when everyone is home working remotely. Depending on what your business is, and who your customers are, your audience may need to hear from you now more than ever. Financial services are expected to be the voice of reason as the stock market fluctuates on the hour. Pharmaceutical and medical professionals are being called on to provide the guidance and clarity that politicians lack. Education professionals are having to rely on video conferencing to reach their students and brands need to shift the customers who still shop at brick and mortar stores to entirely online. So professionals are relying on DIY (Do It Yourself) methods of recording video more than ever.
Self-Record and Edit Remotely
Even for the least tech savvy among us, recording on a smart phone and relaying that footage to your editor is easier than it has ever been. Below are some tests I ran on both an iPhone and a Macbook pro, varying the audio source and the iPhone footage won by a long shot.
I’ve summed up my best DIY video practices in the following list:
SOUND: Wired Apple headphones with microphone. Comparable or higher end headphones including Bose will work too, but keep in mind that not everyone has a pair of $350 consumer grade headphones lying around. I do not recommend wireless Apple Airpods or bluetooth headphones.
ATMOSPHERE: Close windows / doors to room where recording. Kindly ask family members, pets and children to stay out of room while recording. This isn’t always possible but we do what we can.
ROOM TONE: When done with your content, keep recording for 20–30 seconds with absolute silence so the editor can edit out background noise.
TRANSITION TIME: Once you’ve hit record and you’re about to start, pause in frame for about 2–3 seconds and then begin. Do the same once you’ve complete the video. This will give your editor room to transition out of your video into closing graphics (and transition away from opening graphics in the beginning). This might seem a little hard to understand if you’re not an editor, but its a good rule of thumb to stick to and is sure to make your editors life easier.
COLOR: If you want to make your editor’s life easier, when you’re done with your video, hold up a plain white sheet of paper. This will help their editing software quickly find the true “white” in the room, so they can quickly do an auto white balance.
SETUP: Unless you have a smart phone tripod, lean your device against a stack of books or object, do not pace. Sit in a chair that does not move, squeak, swivel or turn. If you don’t have one, then try to move as little as possible or fashion a chair out of crates or other furniture.
LIGHTING: Unless you are a plant, avoid overhead light if possible, turn on a desk lamp on either side of you, or use natural light from a window to illuminate your face. Do not attempt to achieve an artful window shot / cityscape on a phone, in most you will end up overexposing both yourself and the background. Simple is better.
Connection: Situate your recording location as physically close to your router as possible to get a strong connection.
I’ve tried it all and found that the best workflow is as follows: Skype and eCamm plugin ($39.99).
The most irritating aspect of some video conferencing software is this: at a step-up price they offer the ability to record. However, the catch is that the video file is often proprietary for their own software. In laymen's terms, it’s a file format that isn’t compatible to play or edit in any other place than their own platform.
Ecamm plugin for Skype is so fantastic because it works seamlessly, launches automatically when you open Skype and the host has the ability to set all Skype calls to auto-record (so no worrying about remembering to hit the red record button). Also, the video export as Quicktime files so easy editing! The only downside to Ecamm I can see is that file size for exporting is still not HD, but rarely will video conferencing hit a higher resolution than that anyway, so exporting at 1080P as opposed to 720 will make no make a difference in quality.
Additionally, one of my favorite features of the eCamm plugin for Skype is that the user has the choice of up to five views for exporting the conversation:
Local (host) Only
*guest large, host small
*half host, half guest
*2 evenly spaced wide frame videos with letter boxing.
LOOK FORWARD (NOT BACK)
My final and most important point to getting your DIY video production on is this: Don’t obsess over perfecting what you’ve already recorded to the point where it devours your schedule or delays deadlines. Keep looking forward and take what you learned from the first iteration or episode and put it towards the next episode. On film sets, we have a saying — you don’t run out of ideas, you run out of film. I’ve worked on multi-year video programs where you can look back to early, cringeworthy episodes compared to the quality we finally achieved with a well-oiled machine.
Don’t strive for perfection. Instead, strive for deadlines and the long tail of improvement.