If you are committed to a regular schedule of blogging, you’ll know that the production needs to be efficient or the process can quickly become unaffordable. Video is a super engaging medium for blogging, but might appear unaffordable at first glance. Great corporate videos on your web site deserve a high quality production, but frequent video blogs need ‘good enough’ production only.
At align.me, we’re a long way from the efficiency we think we can achieve, but have mastered the art of good-enough quality video blog production and are pleased to let you under the covers a bit to show you how we do our weekly video blog.
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Hi there. A complete change of pace this week. I’m going to take you into the back and show you how we do our weekly video production, how we film it, and a little bit about the actual production.
We get a lot of emails asking how we do this. The audience list has grown every week with the blog. By the way, thank you so much for that. I know that a big part of that growth has been because you’ve asked friends and colleagues to come and watch the videos. As we’ve grown each week, I recognize that that’s because of your efforts, and I want to thank you very much for that.
Now, to the production, or in fact more correctly to the overall process of creating the video. I want to argue, in order, the most important factors. A lot of people will say it’s audio, and you’re going to criticize the quality of my audio a little bit. I’ll come to that later. I want to say audio is the second most important thing.
The first most important thing is the script. Where are you trying to take your audience to as a result of showing them your video blog? I’ll show you through the discussion today exactly how we produce the script. Number one is the script. There’s no point having an amazing video to take them to the wrong place, so I’d argue script is number one.
Number two is audio. I’ll come to audio and our own audio and why that’s the case later on. Number two is audio. Get half decent audio. Don’t use the microphone on your phone if you can avoid it.
Number three is lighting. I’ll show you how we do that.
Production is less important. Now, we do a few things to try to make the video a little bit more enjoyable, to mix it up a little bit, to keep it paced, but for all that I would argue that’s the fourth most important thing. Frankly, let’s take a look at those in order. We’ve got the script, audio, lighting, and production.
Despite arguing that the script is the most important thing, I’m not going to labor the point about the script. Just a couple of key points. I use a template. I’m a big fan of Evernote, so each week I go into my templates and I take a copy of a particular template and copy it in my folder called blog scripts. I try to keep a few weeks ahead in my blog scripts.
I’ll go through the chapter sections in a moment, but I want to start where I start, and that is I start with the conclusion. At the end of the blog, what do I want to have earned the right to say?Then, everything else kind of hinges off that. I’m trying to build up to earn the right to make this conclusion. I add to the end of that, an invitation to share the blog. We explain a bit about how we do it in funnel plan.
We also sell next week’s show. I start with the conclusion. What do I want to be able to say at the end of the blog that makes sense? Then, if I want to make that conclusion, what’s the content that I need to argue? Then, to make that content, I’m going to put some of that content in the early section. We split a few things up. We’ll come back. I’ll go through all these chapter sections in a moment. I’m just giving you my sequence. I start with the conclusion, then I write the content. Then, I write the teaser. Then, I write the title. Not the other way around.
How does it should play out? All of these sections with asterisks are sections that we intend getting pre-produced with voice overs and nice animation, but right now we’ve just got a recording of me having done them previously.
I start with a teaser that sells a bit about the video. Then, there’s a branded introduction. Then, we introduce the content. Then, there’s a hey if you want to skip ahead you can that’s going to be pre-produced. Then, there’s the main content. Then, there’s a please stay on the line, we’re going to tell you about how to share the blog. We’re going to show you how to do it in funnel plan. Let’s get the conclusion. That’s another pre-produced piece. Then, I draw a conclusion. Then, there’s an invitation to share the blog. You’ve heard that a lot of times. Then, there’s an explanation of how we do it in funnel plan. Then, if you like, there’s a pitch for next week’s blog.
How do I script it? I start with the conclusion. Then, I work out what the content is that gives me the right to make that conclusion. Then, I write the teaser that will attract you enough to listen to the content. Then and only then, I write the content. That’s it. That’s all I was going to show you on the process of scripting. Let’s take a look now at the process of producing including the audio and the lighting and the production.
Now, to audio. Even though video is a visual platform, most video producers would agree that audio is critical. People won’t put up with poor audio. We’ve got a half decent microphone going into a phone. The phone that I’m using every week has a flaw in it that we realized only recently. The mic that I’m using is okay, and any imperfection is coming from the phone itself. That’s not because phones are a bad idea. It turns out I’ve got a problem with my phone. We’re going to replace it.
Let me show you the microphone that we’re using. It’s a moderately affordable microphone. It’s only about $60 or something online. I’ll show you how I’ve got it set up here. Let’s start with where it is on me. You probably know that a lapel microphone, which is what these little guys are called, is a good idea. A lapel microphone is great because it gets reasonably close to the mouth. There are all sorts of clever techniques you can do to put a lapel mic underneath the collar and all that sort of good gear. When I produce my video, I’m up here. You can’t even see the microphone. Where it is is quite good enough.
The important thing is the microphone is close to my mouth, and therefore it doesn’t have to;
A) Have amazing pickup.
B) It’s not too exposed to background noise.
This microphone is connected directly to my phone. As I mentioned, my phone itself has a problem that we’re getting, we’re going to replace the phone.
You’ll find that a microphone like this… I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can get this microphone, this particular one is a R0DE, but there are others on our Wiki. Let’s include a link to the Wiki articles also for multiple microphones that we have tested and would recommend. Long story short, get a half decent microphone, and plug it into your phone or your camera.
A little trick with the phone. The one that I’m using, because it needs to go into a phone, needs to have what’s called a four post. I won’t bore you with the electro-mechanical reasons for that. Basically, because we’re going into a phone where the phone earphone socket is designed to have earphones which need three points, left, right, and then a return circuit. Now with the microphone, you need four posts to be included on the microphone.
Why is that important for us non-techs? Basically, when you’re buying a microphone, buy one that works in a phone if you’re going to record on a phone. If you buy a normal microphone it’s going to have three posts, and that won’t work in your phone. It must be four. Again, take a look at the show notes. We’re going to link there to a Wiki article where we’ve got a bit of a review on several microphones. There you go. That’s audio. Get a half decent microphone.
Now, let’s take a look at the lighting. It begins here. We locked the front door so nobody could come in. We normally get couriers on a Monday morning, and we don’t want any couriers. This is the inside of the door. I’ve got a similar sign on the other side explaining that any guests should ring us on our phone. What am I saying there? Just make sure that you don’t get interrupted.
To our meeting room itself, let’s take a look inside. It’s a regular sized meeting room, and I’ve got in here lights set up. In fact, I’m going to come back in with those lights turned off so I can show you without all that glare.
This time with the lights turned off so that you don’t get too much glare. I’ve got the normal room lights on. Normally, when I’m filming I turn those off. These are our studio lights. These cost me only two or three hundred dollars on eBay. It’s got standard three point lighting set.
If you know anything about lighting, you would know that there’s a basic setup for lighting called three point. In fact, let’s include a link to three point lighting again in the show notes. Three point lighting is basically one primary light on your face, on an angle, another light on the opposite angle to backfill your face so you’re not full of shadows, and then one light behind.
We adopted that because we’ve still only got the three lights, but we want a different effect. What we’re trying to do here is create a background for the wall. We want that background to be as close to white as possible. The way we did that is we turned these two lights to the back wall. These are two regular lights. Let me show you a tiny bit about these. These are called softboxes.
Open up this guy here. Here we go. We’ve got five lights in there. One of them is broken. We’ve left him out, so we’ve got four lights left in this guy. Reflective in here. One bit of soft cover over the lights there, and then another soft cover over here. What those two between them do, stand back from that, is that when it sends the light out it sends quite a diffused light onto the wall. Let me stand back and show you that effect on the wall. Those two lights shining onto the wall produce a quite white background. When I flip back and put my camera back in its tripod, or my phone back in its tripod, you’ll see the effect on the wall. We try to flood as much light onto the back wall as we can.
That leaves us with only one light here which is going to go on my face. You can see my tripod here. There’s one light beside the tripod, and that light shines onto my face. These two lights behind me are there to flood the back wall to give us a white background. A quick point about the tripod here. It’s a regular tripod. What we’ve got sitting on the top of that tripod is a little bracket designed just to take a phone. This is the Joby GripTight. There are other brands, and if you use an iPhone there’s a Glif, that’s quite a nice one. Again, check on the show notes. We’ve got links to these little mounts.
That goes onto the top of a regular tripod here. That lets me insert my phone into here. What I do is I turn the camera around so I have the screen facing me and I can see my own face. I can then have the camera from the front of the phone pointing at me, and I can see that I’m roughly in frame. Let me get my phone back into there and show the effect of those lights.
I’m going to show you this in multiple stages. First, I’ve got this single light shining on my face here sort of on a slight angle. You can see on my face I’ve got some slight shadow on this side. Generally, you want to have a little bit of shadow on your face but not too much, which is why this three point lighting is quite popular. One big light shining in this way, softer light coming in this way to balance a little bit.
What I’m using instead, because I’ve used up already two of my lights on the back wall, is I’ve got this one light which is a softer light shining. It’s got a little bit of shadow on this side of my face to create some dimension.
Next, we need the light behind us to flood that back wall. Let me show you those. We’ve got those lights on the back wall now, but because it’s so bright there the camera is kind of confused as to what it should focus on. That’s now made my face quite dark, because the wall behind me is so light. It’s trying to create some kind of balance. I fix that by overexposing. Let me adjust the overexposure, and then I’ll explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
That’s with the exposure turned up. What that does is it brings my face back into about normal, but the wall behind me is now super bright. If I had put a more white paint perhaps on the wall behind me then it would be even brighter still, or if I’d used a screen even brighter still. It would be pretty much near white, and we want it to be white because we’re showing it on the website without any frames. We want a pure white background.
Long story short with the lighting, what’s most important is a bit of light on your subject. If you don’t have studio lights then go and stand beside a window. Natural light is a great alternative. For a couple of hundred dollars you can get some studio lights like these. We store them in a utility room and bring them out once a week. It’s not such a drag. If you don’t have lights or you don’t want to invest in the lighting, go and stand beside a window and get some nice natural light.
Point two, if you can, get the light to be a little bit off center so that you can create some more dimensional look to your face.
Point three, if you can, make your background interesting. There are a couple of ways you can do that. You can use a textured or colored background and not even try all this white business. Or, as we can, you can flood the wall with as much light as you possibly can and increase your exposure on your camera so that it overexposes and makes that even whiter still. That’s your basic lighting effect.
Let’s now take a look at production, although just briefly. Let me take you out of the studio and show you very briefly how we produce it. I might save the, how we do at Camtasia for another day. Let me show you a little of our production. Let’s take a look now at what Olivia is doing. Let’s squeeze into the factory. In fact, Olivia is producing the last week’s video right now. We use Camtasia. She’s perched at somebody’s else disk, because we had some problems with 8.4 last week, so she’s using an earlier version of Camtasia here. I’ll save the “how to” on the Camtasia specifically for another video. You can see enough on Olivia’s screen.
By the way, morning, Liv.
You can see enough on Olivia’s screen that she’s got multiple layers going on here with inclusions, text, audio tracks and so on. We’ll show you the how to of that on another day.
There you have it. That’s our basic setup. We’ve got the script, the most important. Audio quality, enhanced. Don’t use the phone’s standard microphone. For not a lot of money you can get a decent microphone. Add lighting and a little bit of production that allows us to remove the pregnant pauses, to splice the various segments together, to add a few chapter section breaks, to put a little music in there in the background. They all enhance it. In descending order, they are the most important things. Start with the script, because an amazing video taking the audience to the wrong place is a stupid video, I would argue.
If you enjoyed this blog, then likely you’ll enjoy others. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to receive this blog. Go to align.me/blog, and either subscribe to the twice a week blog or, if you prefer, the once a month which has a recap of all the key blogs for the month. Frankly, what most people do is subscribe to both, and you’re welcome to do that.
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I hope you got some value from that. Next week, we’re going to return to our process of walking through the funnel plan. We’re going to start again with setting clear objectives. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.