Part 2, DIY Video Equipment and Process Tips
In Part 1, we talked about why online video is such a great business marketing tool and revealed the five basic themes you can use.
Now, for the Do-It-Yourself crowd, we’ll share the basics of what video equipment you will need, how to use it and best practices for uploading, social media sharing and video SEO. We provide affiliate links to make it easy for you, suggesting a piece of gear that we have used with clients, gotten good results and still fits within a tight budget.
Equipment basics – Your under $500 Kit
1. Video Camera
Always start with the video camera. My #1 criteria is that it needs to be no more complicated than you need it to be. In other words, don’t overbuy, become intimidated, and then never use the darn thing. A good video camera must have an external microphone input, an image stabilizer and be easy to use.
We recommend the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black), a “point and shoot” style camera that is small, portable, fun and not complicated. It comes with some basic editing software, plugs right into your computer via USB and has quick settings for Internet video. Cost :$100
Yes, an external microphone with a good windscreen really IS that important. Bad audio will ruin an otherwise fine video. Don’t believe me? Try watching your favorite TV show while someone vacuums. Ughh! Start with a simple, wired clip-on mic like this Audio-Technica ATR-35S Lavalier Microphone Cost: $50
We’ve fallen in love with the new, florescent kits that are available. They don’t get as hot as traditional bulbs, use less power and are now available in natural, color balanced bulbs. Get one with a nice light box or diffuser for even skin tones. Bounce umbrellas will also work well, they just require a bit more space. Try this green screen set for lights and a backdrop, in case you want to try the “special effects” you can accomplish with greenscreen. ePhoto 10??? x 12??? Green Screen Background Kit with (2) Lights Cost: $140
You’ll need to edit this somehow, and export it in a format that’s right for online viewing. For PC users, we like Adobe Premiere Elements and for Mac users, we like Final Cut Express. Both of these are consumer versions of professional packages and have great functionality. If your interest takes you higher, you can upgrade to the full, pro version and already be familiar with the basic building blocks. The learning curve on the consumer versions is fairly short, and is helped in both cases by great online support, video tutorials and user forums.
Adobe Premiere Elements 9 (Win/Mac) Cost: About $100
Final Cut Express 4 Cost: About $185
Keep it under 2 minutes for “cool” contacts. There’s a shorter attention span for people who aren’t familiar with you and involved emotionally with your company. You can go up to 8 minutes for “warmer” viewers. They have more invested, and in some cases, are being asked to invest (financially) even more. Take the time to help them see the benefits and overcome objections.
Take it easy on the transitions – cuts and dissolves are just right. Don’t throw every wipe and star burst in the software at it just because you can. Few things make a video seem cheesy faster than an overload of different visual transitions.
Use quality, royalty free, licensed music. This is not the time to use your favorite commercially available track from Maroon 5 in the background. Your video will get flagged, may get pulled, and you may be levied a fine for copyright infringement. Instead purchase your music as a “buy-out,” typically $20-45 per track or maybe $80 for a whole disc of various tracks. Favor real instruments over midi, synthesizer sounds. We like , , and .
Stock Images and Footage can also add great dimension to your projects. Like with the music, don’t’ swipe images from other websites for your video production. A web-quality image will cost about $2 from sources like and .
The easiest, all-purpose encoding format for YouTube, Facebook and iPad/iPod is H.264 (a form of Quicktime .mov files). Widescreen (16??9) is generally preferred over the ling-time TV standard of 4??3. If you have HD, you can now use that on YouTube, just check the help files for specifics.
It counts here, too, and with YouTube as the second most popular search engine today, you might as well make the most of it. Use a good, intriguing title, fill in the description (100 words or more) and keywords (try for 10-12), and geotag it. Use of full URL of your home website as the first item in description for a live link. And consider using YouTube’s captions and annotations for extra power. Again, check the help files and tutorials available through YouTube for details.
You can do this! Start small, but start somewhere, and put the power of online video to use for your company today!