Easy Guide to DIY Commercial Video

Stonetree Creative | Studio Behind the Scenes
While many creative folks will find the information below to be relatively basic, you would be surprised just how many times I get asked for the bare-bones essentials to creating a video. We love helping small businesses develop video content, but it is stunningly easy to take charge of your own production, rather than drain your budget hiring agencies.
These days, it’s not hard to create a really good product, explanation, or talking head commercial video as long as you have a little bit of foresight and follow a few simple rules:
  1. Keep it short. No one wants to listen to you drone on for more than 2-3 minutes. One minute is our preferred length because these can easily be put on Instagram without extra work.
  2. Practice what you are going to say before recording. Try to limit the “Uhs” and “Ahs”. If you have a teleprompter setup, awesome. If not, just practice. Write a script and read it out loud. This will also help you understand the length of your final video.
  3. Again. Keep it short.
  4. Limit background interruptions – film in a quiet place or don’t do it at all. If you are outside, stay away from traffic or other people.
  5. Be aware of your background. Do you have a half-eaten sandwich sitting on your desk behind you? Move it before hitting record.
  6. Get the lighting right. You don’t have to be Scorsese, but make sure that you have enough light on your face and that you are not blowing out the background. Table lamps without shades do wonders. Also, today’s digital cameras have great automatic ISO performance, so don’t be afraid to bump it up a bit if you’re really struggling for light.
  7. Get a tripod. Whether this is a Manfrotto or a Gorilla pod, it doesn’t matter. Handheld videos look like shit.
  8. If you have an articulating screen on your camera that helps you position yourself, once you press record, be sure to look into the lens ON the camera, not at yourself on the screen.
  9. Get a microphone. In my experience, lavalier mics work best, but there are many microphones out there that are suitable. (See AUDIO Below)

NON-NEGOTIABLE ESSENTIAL VIDEO GEAR LIST:

  • Camera or smartphone
  • Tripod with optional phone holder
  • Lavalier or shotgun microphone
  • Script/bullet points

AUDIO

Regardless of what you use to capture video, audio is what makes or breaks content. Being able to hear clear audio makes all the difference in the world.
I LOVE using pocket audio recorders like the Zoom H1 ($100) paired with a lavalier mic like the Giant Squid ($47)
This will allow you to record clean audio that you can then sync up to your video in post-production.
For iPhone recording, there are plenty of mic choices, but here is a great basic guide.
If you are in a quiet setting, directional mics should work fine. However, I stand by using a lavalier like the Rode SmartLav+ ($63) or the Movo PM10 ($25) – both will need a bit of external EQ/compression in post-production to make them sound the best.

iPhone VIDEO CAPTURE

Here’s a pretty comprehensive video on filming with an iPhone
Everything he says is great, fundamental stuff you can follow. Absolutely put your phone in airplane mode before you record.
If all you have is an iPhone, that’s ok.
  1. DO NOT RECORD IN PORTRAIT MODE. IF YOU DO, I WILL THROAT PUNCH YOU. PERIOD.
  2. If you are using a lav mic, please do your best to hide the cable by threading it down your shirt

VIDEO POST PRODUCTION

I use Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere. At a much lower, but still functional level, iMovie is easy. I have no idea what Windows people do. Seriously. They should just get a Mac and stop the suffering. (Queue the Internet trolls in 3….2…1….)
Mix up the core video with some B-roll of the product, while maintaining the voiceover track. It keeps the video moving along and gives you leeway to cut out your “uhs” and “ahs”. I’m happy to provide a tutorial on this.
When in doubt, Dropbox all your clips and let us edit it.
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