Welcome to Episode 101 of Coffee Break Blogging!
Today we are going to continue talking about videos; specifically on how to make good looking videos.
If we’re going to use video marketing to grow our traffic, we want to make sure those videos look as “pro” as we can. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be Hollywood. But, it does need to look somewhat pro so that people enjoy watching it.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Microphones to use to make your videos
- Cameras to use to make your videos
- How to record audio and video separately and match them together
- How to script a video and not have it look robotic
- The hardware and software that I am using personally
This episode is a little bit technical, but that goes with the territory when you want to make good-looking videos. 🙂
Now if we are going to get in to video marketing, that is obviously an important topic. So that is what we are going to do; we are going to be talking a little bit about equipment and stuff like that. At the end of the day, the reason why we need to talk about this is because video quality does matter.
There are 2 elements to that. You have got the video portion of it and you got the audio portion of it. And I will be very clear with you; the audio is actually more important than the video. People have a lot more of tolerance for different levels of video quality. What they do not have that much of a tolerance for is crappy audio that has got static or any of that crap in it. So you want to try to make your audio sound good. The video itself does not need to look like Hollywood. So I don’t want you to look at popular YouTube channels or look at TV and think like you have got to make your video look like that. It absolutely is not the case; it does not need to look like that, but you do want it to sound pretty decent.
So let’s talk here about audio first.
The first option I ever used; and I know it is a pretty popular mic, is a little Lavalier mic. A Lavalier mic is the kind that will clip on to your shirt while you are speaking. And this one was made by Audio Technica. It actually is the ATR3350. A cheap little Lavalier mic and it actually is not wireless. It has got a big 20 foot cord on it and you plug it in to whatever is doing the recording. So it is the cheapest way to have a Lavalier mic, allow you to be on camera, have both hands doing stuff, but you can sound halfway decent. It is going to always sound better than the mic that is built-in to your camera. That’s the worst way to record a video; is to use the one built-in to your camera, because you are going to sound echoey, far away; not so good. So the entry level thing will be something like this Audio Technica ATR 3350 and it is a Lavalier mic that clips to your shirt.
Now if you want to upgrade from there, you can go in to Lavalier mics that are wireless. And they go in various price ranges. At one time, (I do not remember the model) I tried like around $90 to $100 wireless Lavalier mic, I got it at Best Buy, I do not remember who built it; and I can tell you that it kind of sucked. I wouldn’t recommend it to you anyway. And so the reason I say that, at least in my experience, if you want to go wireless on a Lavalier mic you going to have to pony up a little bit. That is just the way that it is.
Today, when I use the wireless, I have a Sennheiser wireless lapel mic system. And I did spend between $500 – 600 on that system. And I only use it when I am recording on my DSLR camera. If I am recording at my desk, I obviously do not use something like that.
USB Headset Mic
So if you are recording at your desk, you can use any decent microphone. A USB headset mic would work really well. Because it will generally sound pretty decent you can get any USB microphone that sits on your desk. A really popular one is the Blue Yeti. You can pick that up in a variety of places. I think it runs around $ 80 or 90 bucks. If anybody here is watching me on periscope right now knows how much that thing costs, but it is the Blue Yeti; really nice sounding microphone, not expensive at all.
Professional Broadcast Mic
Now the one that I am using, actually the one you are listening to me on right now is called the Heil PR40. And this is a professional broadcast microphone; it was not cheap, it was about $300 and it plugs in to a mixer. So it is a little bit more work. I only use it for the podcast and sometimes when I am recording screencast videos. But I do not say that anybody has to go and get that. Generally, the people who are using a mic like this are the ones who are podcasting pretty regularly and they kind of know why they are doing it.
But otherwise, just a standard USB microphone will usually sound pretty good; it will still blow the hell out of any built-in mic on your laptop or what have you, and I do recommend them.
Some people also will record into a separate digital recorder. And there is a company called Zoom that makes these things. And you can plug any microphone that sounds halfway decent. You can even get a Lavalier mic system that doesn’t have receiver or any of that on there, it is just basically a cord and you can plug that in to one of these digital recorders. And you just drop the digital recorder into your pocket while you are speaking. Now, it is not going to record videos; and I will be going over that in a minute how you mesh the two together, but a lot of people use these digital recorders and some people say they record better than the computer. I personally can’t tell the difference.
So those are a few of the microphones that will help you get good audio. Now let us move on to the next element of your video marketing…
The most popular camera out there that you have that can make pretty good quality videos is the phone in your pocket. If you have a smartphone, you have got a pretty decent camera. Now the trick with this camera is that you need to have good lighting. If you have got decent lighting, you are going to be able to make decent video with your phone. If you don’t have good lighting, it is going to look kind of grainy and kind of crappy. So just keep that in mind. Whether it be an iPhone or an Android or whatever the heck kind of phone you have, it has got kind of decent camera on there and you can use it.
Standard and HD Webcam
The next kind is a standard webcam. Most webcams out there are HD. I do recommend that if you are going to use a webcam, get one that is HD. YouTube is definitely operating in HD these days. Now the good thing is that most computers nowadays have a webcam built right in and it is pretty decent so you can simply use the webcam. And in fact, even if you are going to record a live action shot, you can actually just point the laptop at yourself and you could just use the computer to record yourself. It will work.
Now if you want to bump it up a notch, you can get a separate webcam that plugs into your computer. I think I got one made by Logitech; I don’t remember the exact model of it off the top of my head, but it is a decent little HD webcam and it has got a better lens on it than the one built in to my Mac. Now if you want to step it up from there you will move in to a compact digital camera of some variety. These cameras are fine, they are nice, they have got pretty decent lenses on there and most of them record some pretty decent video. The big thing there is you want to have either two of these things and that goes to any of these…
You want to have an external microphone jack. You need to have that ability because the mics built in to these things suck. Or you need to have a digital recorder of some kind like the Zoom set up that I mentioned earlier so you can record directly into that. Somehow you have got to get decent audio. And if you are using the built-in mic on the phone or on your digital camera it is not going to sound that great.
If you want to bump it up all the way up to the best quality, you will use a digital SLR. Now many of us have one of these things because we use it to go on vacation with and take nice pictures. I personally use the Canon T4i. Really nice one, they are up to the T5 now; I really don’t know what the difference is. But these cameras are nice, Nikon makes great ones as well and they all make fantastic video. So those are your options. Just pick the best one that works for you but pay attention to lighting; that part is pretty important.
Now let us jump ahead; I want to talk about lighting being that I mentioned it twice. I use a 3-piece lighting kit that I picked up on Amazon. And in the show notes to this episode over at coffeebreakblogging.com, I will drop the link to the exact 3-piece lighting kit that I am using. I think I spent about $150 on it; I think it is probably even less than that right now. So it has got this big white fluorescent (I think) style bulbs in there. It has got 4 of them and I can turn each one on independently so I can control the brightness. And it is just nice. So basically when I am recording on the live camera, I put one of the lights on both sides of the camera then I will generally have one kind of in an angle shining behind me. And that is the purpose of making the background look decent. You can go and Google around for various set ups on how to set up a 3-piece lighting kit. I am not going to sit here and say I am the expert on it. That is just what I happen to do.
Tips On Making Videos
1. Plug your mic directly to your camera. (If you can)
You need to have that external microphone jack on the camera. In fact I used to have a Canon T1i, the original like consumer grade DSLR that Canon made. It did not have a mic jack. And that for me was a pretty big deal. And so that was the major reason why I upgraded to the T4i, because it has the mic jack.
Now if you are using a smartphone, they do have various little adaptors that you can use to plug external mics into a smartphone; so definitely look into those. But one way or the other, you want to have your mic plug in to your phone or whatever camera you are using from the outside and bypass the built-in mic.
2. The “clap” trick
If you need to record to a separate device for some reason, like you are using a digital recorder or something like that; so your camera is picking up the video and you are going to record the audio that you are going to use somewhere else, here is a little trick: It is called the clap trick. That is what I am calling it anyway. So what you do is when you are take it in to editing later, you are going to have the little spikes on what your audio looks like. So you are going to have your camera recording using its built-in microphone, it is just not going to sound that good but it will still pick you up and then you are going to have your other audio source.
So what you do is at the very beginning of your video; you clap loud 3 times. And so what is going to happen is that when you look at your audio in your editor you are going to have these 3 spikes on both audio tracks. And then what you can do is in your editor, you just simply match them up so that the 3 spikes are all in alignment and then you can mute the audio that came from your camera and you will only be using the really good, high quality audio that came from your good audio source. That’s how you do it. It is the clap trick! Three click claps, lined up the spikes and you will be good to go. That is how you match up your video and your audio and it is not going to be out of sync.
3. Post Production
Now we are not going to get that much into post production here like how to edit videos; that is something that has lots of tutorials for that on YouTube, on Lynda.com, on Udemy if you want to go that route. I can’t tell you that I do all of my editing in a program called ScreenFlow. I’m on a Mac, so I have ScreenFlow. And ScreenFlow is great for recording things, recording your actual screen. But it happens to make a killer movie editor at the same time. So even if I am recording on a phone or something like that and I want to do any editing, I will bring it over to my computer and I will edit it together in ScreenFlow. And you can also use iMovie if you are on a Mac. If you are on Windows, there is a ton of options out there but a free one is Windows Movie Maker put up by Microsoft. It is not the most awesome thing in the world but it will get the job done.
When it comes to scripting, on how to control what you say. What I usually do is I make a few bullet points on what I am going to talk about. I kind of put those bullet points in my head and then I go and I adlib it. Now I have been doing it longer so I can adlib and I sound somewhat natural plus I am not that particular about what I sound like on a video. I just like to come across as natural. But if you need to script it for some reason because it works best for you, the big thing that you want to do there is you don’t want to drown on like you are reading it like a robot. You need to find some little trick for you that will allow you to go by the script by sounding natural. That is important. You need to be able to do that.
Now one little trick that you can do in your editing to help you with this; because it is generally hard to memorize the whole script, is that you can memorize one or two sentences and then just say that on video and then go silent for 5 or 10 seconds. And then come on and say the next one. And you are going to have these big gaps in there, yes. But when you do your editing, you can clip out all those silences. Now you are going to have a little bit of a jump there if you take that out. You are going to have a little bit of a jump in the final product. But what you can actually do is purposely move yourself around on the camera a little bit. Move yourself around in the frame. Because you will notice, when you watch people talk on TV; the people will shift the viewpoint on the speaker. It’s normal.
Now the big thing is if you are standing primarily in the same place on the camera and you do this little shift but you are essentially on the same place, it is going to look awkward and the person who is watching the video is going to know you just do not know how to edit a video anyway. But instead if you shift like you are actually shifting to the different sides of the frame or maybe you zoom in slightly so that you can emphasize your point by getting a little closer to you; you can actually, by way of how you edit the thing together you can make it look very natural. And it gets around that weird little vibration thing that people do when they are clipping from one scene to the next without any kind of a transition. Alright? Just a little trick there!
Now I do recommend primarily that if you can talk reasonably well that you outline it rather than script it. Generally the scripting ones are going to be for the really important videos where it is highly important that you don’t forget anything. But most of the videos that we make are probably not like that. You can probably wing it to some degree with some bullet points. It is kind of like I’m doing on this podcast; I have a few bullet points in front of me and I just go for it. I am not scripting this; it will sound like garbage if I do.
So those are few of the tips to help you make higher quality videos; make videos people actually want to watch before you put them on YouTube.
I want to make one final point here and that is; do not be a perfectionist about this, okay? It does not need to look like Hollywood. And the other thing is, you are going to get better at it over time. Your second video is going to look better than the first one and it is just going to go on from there, okay? But at the end of the day, especially if you are doing “how to” type videos, it is really not a matter of high production value or looking like a TV episode. It really is more about the value and understandability of it. And the other thing too is that some of the most helpful videos out there are Screencast where you are not literally on the screen. You are not on camera. You are just recording your computer.
Those are really easy to make, really low pressure on you so that makes it easier; and you can do it! If you need to show somebody how to do something on screen; you could make slides and talk about that; you could make slides out of photos so if you are showing something in the real world you could just take photos of doing it, put them into your slides and show the photos on your screen and then talk it through. There are programs out there where you can actually use a table and drawl on screen. So there are lots of things that you could do if you are more comfortable avoiding being on camera. Okay? But don’t be a perfectionist about it.
Okay so that is how to make decent looking videos for YouTube; a very quick overview primer, you can get deeper into that topic as you would like.
I want to end of by reminding you of the Blog Monetization Webinar that we do; usually every week or so, at the Blog Marketing Academy and you can find this at blogmonetizationwebinar.com. The whole idea there is to present a real world, workable, proven business model that will work for those of us who are creating content whether it be YouTube videos, whether it be podcast or whether it be your blog or all three. You need to have a business model that actually makes that generate revenue if that is one of your goals. Now what you do not want to do is rely exclusively on banner ads; and in fact, I recommend that for most of us, we just throw that one out the window altogether and actually put a real business model in place. And that business model is exactly what we are going to talk about on that webinar. So that is blogmonetizatoinwebinar.com. I would love to see you there!
And as usual, I would highly appreciate it if you have been finding this episode valuable; and any of the others, to review and star-rate this podcast on iTunes. And you can do that by going to blogmarketingacademy.com/itunes and I look forward to reading your review.
Thank you so much… I will see you next time! 😉