Text and audio are powerful mediums to deliver your message. Just witness the meteoric rise of blogging and podcasting over the past decade.

But video is different. Video allows you to tell your story in a visually engaging way that you just can't with text or audio.

It also has enormous reach, as reflected in several telling statistics. Direct Marketing reports that 9 out of 10 consumers watch at least one video per week. Cisco predicts that by 2019, 80 percent of all online traffic will be videos. And YouTube estimates over 100 hours of video is uploaded to the site every minute.

The trend is clear, yet many marketers I know still shy away from using video. Or they dabble here and there without making a commitment to publishing video content consistently, like they do when they write a weekly blog post, or release a weekly podcast episode.

They get bogged down by the cost side of the equation. They believe that producing quality videos can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

Yes, making good videos can be difficult and costly. But this is changing -- and fast. Here's why:

  • The cost of video equipment is coming down. A DSLR camera that can produce cinema quality video runs for just a few thousand dollars. And smartphone cameras that squeeze into your pocket can produce HD video at a quality level that can rival DSLRs.
  • The proliferation of DIY production tools. You don't have to hire a three-person crew to produce a video. From setup to shooting to editing, you can do it yourself these days. Video editing software is either already built into your laptop or smartphone, or you can purchase more advanced versions for just a couple hundred bucks.
  • The rise of video platforms. Video hosting platforms like Youtube, Vimeo, and Wistia, have leveled the playing field and given everyone a chance to reach a global audience from the comfort of their own office (or home).
  • Less than perfect is more than okay. Youtube, Snapchat, and the rise of the selfie mean that you don't always have to stiffly mount your camera on a tripod to get that perfect shot. Shaky shots, close-ups, and out-of-focus scenes make your videos look authentic.

These are just a few reasons for why you should make more videos. But what about the how of video production?

To answer this question, I spoke with Caleb Wojcik, a professional videographer who produces videos for some of the biggest names in the online entrepreneurial space. Caleb is a big advocate of do-it-yourself video, and teaches people how to create great videos on a budget through his popular web TV show and podcast, DIY Video Guy.

Caleb shared some advice for making better videos without busting your budget:

1. HD video right in your pocket.

DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III that I use deliver outstanding, cinema-quality HD video. Not ready to drop several thousand dollars on a DSLR? That's okay, because video quality on smartphones is improving fast. My iPhone 6s records video in 4K, which is double the resolution of my far-more-expensive Canon 5D Mark III.

And affordable webcams -- once the source of choppy, low-resolution video on the internet -- have evolved to the point where you can now conduct live webinars and film instructional videos and interviews in HD.

2. The secret to good video: Good audio.

It seems ironic, but one of the most important elements of good video is the quality of the audio. Producing good audio is not difficult, nor is it expensive. A good lavalier (clip-on) microphone that plugs directly into your camera, or into a separate recording device, can make your audio -- and therefore your video -- sound professional.

3. Lighting makes all the difference.

Good lighting is critical to creating good video. But you might not have access to a cumbersome set of lighting equipment, especially if you're on the move. Caleb suggests that, in the absence of artificial light sources, you should try to leverage natural sources of light, like the sun. Or get creative with the lighting in your room and reposition and direct lamps to provide sufficient lighting of your subject.

If you can set your DSLR to a high ISO (that's the setting that determines how much light hits the sensor in your camera), and adjust your lens aperture so it allows more light into your camera, you can substantially brighten scenes in darker environments without having to worry about setting up cumbersome lighting equipment.

4. Capture eyeballs with B-roll.

Ever stop to think about why videos you like to watch manage to hold your attention for so long? One of the "secrets" the pros use, says Caleb, is changing scenes frequently. This "resets" the viewer's attention and keeps eyeballs glued to the screen. Caleb suggests adding "B-roll" footage -- short video clips and still photos that add visual variety to otherwise monotonous scenes.

5. The storytelling is in the editing.

You've got your gigabytes of raw video footage, so now what? It's time to edit! Capture quality footage and great audio are essential to making great videos, but Caleb emphasizes the value of good editing.

He cites the example of Youtube celebrity Casey Neistat, who boasts over 4 million subscribers on Youtube. Casey can easily afford to hire an editor, but he prefers to edit his daily vlog himself because for him, the storytelling is in the editing.

While there are websites available today where you can drop your raw video files into a folder in the cloud and get them back nicely edited for you, Caleb suggests learning some of the basics of video editing. Even if you do hire a professional, being familiar with what goes into the editing process will help you communicate more effectively with your editor.

Published on: Aug 25, 2016
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