Anyone who spends a lot of time watching YouTube videos can quickly get frustrated and burnt out by seeing many of the same fundamental video production mistakes made over and over. Things like interjecting “ums” and “ahs” into speech to out of focus shots can make watching videos anything but enjoyable. Even videos from so-called professional media makers can include a troublesome level of amateurism.
Fixing these problems can often be fairly simple and easy, so let’s take a look at the five most common YouTube video production problems and their solutions.
Problem: Shaky video footage
Solution: Use a tripod or monopod
Motion sickness is common in many people so don’t make it worse by filming a video that looks like you were on the deck of a ship in rough seas. Use a tripod or monopod! They’re fairly inexpensive and can do wonders in making your video look professional. All cameras have a tripod mount hole on the bottom that works with any tripod or monopod. An alternate option is to buy a camera that has some type of stabilization built in. Sony and Panasonic have pioneered this technology that in some cases comes close to providing a “Steadicam” type look in the palm of your hands. And a third option is to buy a “gimbal” type handheld stabilizer that helps make your video footage appear to fly or float through the scene.
Problem: Voice volume
Solution: Do a proper audio mix
If your video includes both a voice and music track make sure you balance the mix during the editing process so that the music doesn’t drown out the voice. If in doubt it’s always better to bring the music track down a little lower than what you think it should be. Some editing programs include a “normalization” option that allows you to adjust all your audio tracks with a few clicks. And as for the voice track, try to use an external lavalier microphone when recording someone in a studio or outside. If you must use the mic on the camera or a shotgun mic, try to get as close to the person as possible and be aware of any external noises like wind, birds chirping or airplanes. It’s not a bad idea to have the talent record their lines two or three times in case one of the takes is ruined by external noises.
Problem: Ums, ahs and other fillers
Solution: Stick to talking points or a script
I must admit that I have a habit of repeating the word “actually” when giving speeches. I mean, actually, this must be so annoying to the listeners, actually. Whether you’re doing the speaking in your video or filming someone else, listen carefully for extraneous words and fillers like “um” and “ah” that can really stick out like a sore thumb. The easy way to fix this is to use a teleprompter, the device news anchors use to bring you the nightly news. What, you thought they memorized or ad libbed all those lines? Nope, the script is written in advance, entered into a computer and projected on a see-through mirror mounted in front of the camera lens so the anchor can look directly at you while reading the script as it scrolls up. There are a few low cost and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) teleprompters out there that use iPads and tablets. A cheaper option is good old cue cards held above or below the camera lens, or you can just tape a card with your talking points under the lens.
Problem: Dark shots
The one thing that can separate an “amatuer” video from a “professional” looking one is lighting. People filmed in dim or low light can look unhealthy and downright shifty, and this is NOT the look you want when making a video about your service or product. Dim lighting can also make your camera’s auto-focus work harder, or perhaps not at all. The easy solution is to simply stand near a window during the day. If you have white or translucent curtains they can provide a pleasing diffusing effect. Just be careful if the day is cloudy because the light may suddenly get brighter and darker as the clouds pass by. Artificial lighting is another option and inexpensive kits can be found on ebay, Amazon and even at Best Buy. If you go this route spend some time learning about the principles of key lighting. This involves one main light source illuminating the subject, supported by one or two other sources of light to fill in the shadows. It’s not a good idea to rely on a single source of artificial light for your video unless it’s extremely bright and you can bounce it off a wall in front so the subject is covered in a diffused reflected light.
Problem: Bad eye contact
Solution: Look into the lens
This might sound like a no-brainer but I’m amazed at how many YouTube videos have the speaker looking off to the side, up at the sky or down at their feet. This makes them look disinterested in their topic or worse, bored and untrustworthy. So if you’re the main spokesperson of your video, look directly into the camera lens as you speak. This may feel unnatural at first but try to get over the discomfort. Think of the camera lens as a friend you’re having a conversation with. And this does not mean you need to keep your head perfectly still, looking square on into the camera the whole time. The best technique is to turn your head slightly to the left and right, up and down, as you speak, just as you would if talking to an actual person… which you are when it comes right down to it, just on video.
Hopefully these tips will get you started in creating a video where you come across natural and trustworthy, which of course is the ultimate goal of making a video that promotes your service or product. If you need any additional help, give BizFilms a call or reach out to us on our Contact page.