In this article, director of product and growth at video platform Clipchamp, Anna Ji, gives her top tips for creating standout video content on a budget…
It probably isn’t news that video marketing is booming. Today, the majority of people prefer to consume content and information via watching a video as opposed to reading. For this reason, the digital marketing industry is now $135 billion in the US alone with the average business spends at least $20,000 annually creating video content.
This means today’s marketers and business owners are now tasked with continually creating video content for their website and the various social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
However, as many marketers know, creating video content can be expensive. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a marketer to spend $10k to bring in a video production company to create a two-minute video – but not every marketer has that kind of budget to play with. In an era where consumers are looking to consume information from companies by video, marketers must learn to master the content creation game.
Indie film-makers know all too well how to create great-looking content to rival big budget studio productions by mastering things themselves. While any Marvel Movie can cost hundreds of millions to make, indie filmmaker Robert Rodriquez (Sin City, Spy Kids, Alita Battle Angel) made his first feature film El Mariachi for $7,000. With the right know-how, marketers can learn from professional filmmakers how to create slick looking content in-house on a fraction of the budget.
When Quentin Tarantino was still a struggling filmmaker he says some of the best advice he got was from Oscar nominated director Terry Gilliam who told him “What you have to do is just know what your vision is and then you have to hire really talented people. And it’s their job to create your vision.”
So the first step of good content creation is to know what you want to say and to hire a great team to execute it! If you have no budget you can do a Robert Rodriquez and do the filming, sound and editing all yourself. If you have some budget then you act as producer and hire a great team yourself for a fraction compared to a professional video production company to oversee the whole production.
It starts with the script.
When it comes to writing the script – is this something you feel you can do yourself? If not – then you can hire a professional marketing / content writer on platforms like Upwork or post a gig on Craigslist if you want someone local who can come into the office and write the script with you.
The first step is to brainstorm
What is the purpose of the video e.g. explainer video, promotional video, employee recruitment video etc.
What exactly what you want to say?
The main points you want to get across?
How you are going to say it e.g. will it be a very professional tone or do you want to make it more light-hearted and funny?
Locations – where you are going to film it? e.g. in the office or somewhere else?
Who or what is going to be in front of the camera? Are you going to have someone in front of the camera or are you going to use Voice Overs or Graphics on screen?
Then finally you need to determine what platforms do you intend to share it on: e.g. the company website, email, YouTube or social media – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. It could also be all of the aforementioned! In which case you would probably need to create variations of the same video. While a two-minute explainer video works great on your website or YouTube – people consuming content on Instagram and Snapchat prefer super short and sweet 15-30 second videos.
Figuring out the visuals
The next step is knowing what you want your video to visually look like. Do you want ultra-sleek content that looks like it is worthy of being an HBO documentary with beautifully lit sit down interviews or are you more interested in making a more fun, jumpy style?
Scour YouTube for ideas then gather links to videos you like so you have so you have visual references to explain your vision to your team.
Planning the shoot
Now you need to figure out who is actually going to film it. If you are on a low budget you may be tasked with doing it yourself or recruit someone from the office who knows about good lighting and angles.
If you do have some budget then probably best use of these funds is to hire a videographer – these also goes by the titles of Director of Photography or Cinematographer. This is the most important person for upping your production value and making everything look great.
If you post your project on places like Craigslist’s gigs section, Mandy.com or ProductionHub looking for bids from cinematographers you could get a great videographer for a few hundred dollars for a half or full day. Check out their demo reels and make sure that they can deliver the quality of work you are looking for.
What’s the thing that most amateur film makers forget? Crystal clear sound. Reality TV Producer and Indie FilmMaker Robert Palmer commented “If you haven’t filmed before you don’t realize how noisy the world actually is until you start editing and watch the footage you shot. Airplanes, ambulances, fire engines, phones, wind or just people talking in the background- the microphone picks all of these up. While you can cover up bad visuals in the edit with graphics you can’t fix bad audio.”
Take sound very very seriously. If you have the budget you can hire a professional sound person via the same channels as the videographer above and expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a half day / full day. Alternatively, the videographer may be a one man / woman show who can help you with this (check with them beforehand) or if not they are very likely to know someone who they can bring along.
One thing to always consider is B-Roll. This is additional footage you film to make the video look more interesting e.g. An exterior shot of the office, a pan of the room with people working away, following someone from behind as they are walking along the corridor, a close up of someone’s hands typing. If you ever watch a documentary there is very rarely one person talking on screen for more than a few seconds. While they are talking, the video cuts to show something they are talking about. People get bored watching one person talking on screen for too long. So take these shots into consideration when planning your shoot!
After you have all your video shot, now it’s time to edit! Is the editing something you feel can do yourself? Or will you need to hire a professional editor via Craigslist, Mandy, Production Hub or Upwork to do it for you?
If you are on a budget, I recommend doing as much of the edit as you can. A lot of directors usually do a rough draft themselves and then get a professional editor to come in and polish it for them. Working with an editing tool that is on the cloud means you can edit your video as much as you can yourself and share the project with a professional to finish.
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – French philosopher, Blaise Pascal
Great editing is getting your point across quickly and efficiently as possible in the most engaging manner. Most explainer videos that are on company websites or YouTube are under two minutes but if you want to put your video on Facebook, Instagram of Snapchat they usually run 15-30 seconds.
When it comes to editing, you will most likely want to add your company logos and graphics and at the start – that ideally match your company branding. Adding music in the background will make your video more engaging you can add stock footage where applicable e.g. if the person on screen is talking about how important mobile has become you can add stock footage of people on their mobile phones.
At Clipchamp we have integrated stock music and stock video into the platform so it is drag and drop / ready to go but if you’re using another editing tool websites like Shutterstock and Ponds5 sell stock footage and music respectively that you can buy and add to your video.
Don’t forget to create a clear call to action at the end of your video. Include your company website on the video or clear directions wherever your want your customers to go. You may need to create different variations of the same video to suit different platforms e.g. longer form for the website / YouTube or shorter videos for social media.
If you are on a seriously micro-budget, then there are so many great videos on YouTube that teach you how to create content e.g. writing, filming, lighting, sound and editing – you can easily become a master of the content creation game yourself. Who knows, maybe one day be at the Cannes Lions festival winning awards for the content you created on no or low budget. I hope you have fun at least trying!