Video camera content creationThis guide is for those who are serious about creating video content on YouTube, IGTV, Facebook or other platforms like Vimeo and will explain the steps that go into the conception, production, and delivery of video content online.

Millions of people search platforms like YouTube for answers and tutorials. 65% of the population consists of visual learners; these people are the ones who seek out tutorials, reviews, and guides that are in video form.

There’s an immense opportunity for content creators to use video media as a primary way to reach their audiences or augment their written or audio content with video.

Some say creating video content is an easy task; get a cell phone, take a selfie video, upload it to YouTube, then collect a big fat ad revenue check.

Although established content creators with millions of followers can get away with this attitude, the fact is, this is not the case for the majority of content creators.

In order to have your content stand out from the established content channels, you’re going to have to ensure your content is valuable, concise, consistent, and well produced. There’s a ton of up-front work and expense that goes into creating great video content. I would say this is the hardest medium to do between other content such as blogging or podcasting.

You can use all or parts of this guide. I would suggest you start off by writing out your concept and copy before touching a camera. These steps by themselves will help you create awesome content to help your content gain attention.

Woman with idea cloudsCreating the Concept

The first part to any content creation is to recognize a problem to solve and then write about it. Yes, in video content creation, we’re still going to write.

A problem isn’t always a real problem like how to solve a quadratic equation or fix a leaky sink. It could be a knowledge seeking question, such as which is the best camera for video creation in 2018?

Unless you’re vlogging daily about your life (and sometimes even that is scripted), you need a starting point for your video content.

Write down a solution to the problem. You’ll need to define and articulate the steps to the solution with examples.

Finally, because this is video content, you’ll need to think about and answer questions such as what type of audience and perception you want the content to convey? What emotion or action do you want to invoke? How long do you want this video to be?

Don’t be discouraged if someone already answered the problem. Watch their video and improve on their process with your own ideas.

Man Writing on a ComputerWriting the Copy

You’re going to want to follow a script. Either improvising with a basic outline or reading from a teleprompter. To do so, you will spend some time writing down what you want to say to your audience. This is just like writing a blog article, however you will spend time thinking about the visual aspects of the copy. What will the narrator talk about? Will they describe something that the audience sees in the video?

Writing out the introduction, discussing the problem you’re solving in the video. Proceed with discussing why it’s a problem and finally the solution to the problem.

Read your copy out loud several times to get the cadence of reading the script to ensure it fits within the allotted time. That means you should run a timer to see how long it takes to read at your narrator’s normal reading pace. If your copy runs too long, you need to cut back on some of the content. If it runs too short, you need to add more verbiage.

Additionally, you may want to highlight words that the narrator should stress in their speech. This can be done through changing the written word to a bold, italic, or underlined font.

It’s always helpful to have a margin legend describing what each formatting means. For example:

Normal The word or statement should be said in a normal friendly tone.
Bold The word or statement should be said loudly.
Italic
The word or statement should be said slowly, with conviction and authority.
Underline The word or statement should be said abruptly.

If this all sounds like too much work, just remember… you can always cut content out in editing phase, but you can’t add more in without reshoots, so you don’t want to skimp on this writing process.

Storyboard exampleVisualize the Video Scenes

Sometimes it’s useful to visualize and sketch the video scenes you want to have in your video. These are what are known as storyboards and are sketches of scenes in timeline order with annotations and notes about the scene, how it’s to be shot with any camera changes, special effects, or transitions to apply.

Big movie productions often storyboard their scenes before actually shooting a single frame of film. It helps focus the vision for the content to ensure everyone understands what the desired result will be.

For a small one or two person production like yours may be, you may not need to sketch out every scene, but doing so will help you plan what your vision is for the video content and start to imagine the special effects and transitions you may want to apply later in editing between each scene.

Here are some high-level points I like to make when creating a storyboard:

  • Capture the major scenes you will have in your video content
  • Make notes where you plan to have narration occur when the narrator is not shown (e.g. a voice over)
  • Make notes where you plan to have the narrator be in the video and aligned within the video frame.
  • Annotate the storyboard with direction for camera focus, zoom, and movement.
  • Annotate any special effects or transitions between scenes.

Additionally, you may want to write down ideas for b-roll. These are filler scenes that don’t always correlate with the subject of the video but add a wow factor for a nice up-beat vibe to the content.

Film production sceneShooting Plan

A shooting plan is a written version of a storyboard. It specifies in more detail exactly what a camera operator will do to capture the scene, the equipment needed, and the type of video shot required.

For each scene, you would write out in detail some of the following:

Camera Settings

Focal Length Include The type of camera lens (e.g. fish-eye, wide, normal, telephoto, etc)
Aperture
Will the foreground only be in focus, both foreground and background, or just the background? Will the camera transition focus from foreground to background and how quickly? 
Lighting The lower the f-stop number or the camera, the more light and brighter the image in low-light scenes. 
Film frames The number of frames per second to shoot and resolution. For example, 30p (or 30 frames per second) at 1080p. 24p (24 frames per second) is typically the lowest you will go and matches a cinematic feel but usually is not ideal for fast moving objects. 30p is typical. Higher frame rates allow for slow motion.

Types of shots

Aerial Stationary Tall tripod, boom, rooftop, drone, or helicopter
Aerial Moving Drone, helicopter, plane, or rocket (seriously!)
Steady-cam/Gimbal Will the shot be steady and smooth in frame
Hand-held Will the shot be slightly shaky to accentuate a feeling of raw video recording?
Dolly Will the camera move smoothly left or right?
Time-lapse Will the scene be record over a long period of time? What will the time interval be?
Moving Time-lapse Will the camera move during a time-lapse? What will the distance be per time interval?
Stop-motion Will the scene involve stop motion where an object is moved each frame?
Slow-motion Will the scene be in slow motion and if so, how slow? What frame rate is needed?

Wardrobe business suitsWardrobe & Makeup

A lot of content creators will overlook this but it’s crucial to portraying a message to the viewer. Your narrator or actors must dress their part.

When planning your video, you need to make sure those you are filming are dressed appropriately. Should they wear a business suit? Formal attire? Casual? Street clothes? Additionally, does a make-up artist need to be arranged on the day of the video shoot?

studio lightingLighting

A crucial aspect to shooting a professional video is lighting the subject correctly.

For indoor lighting, a good general rule of thumb is to use the three-point lighting method. The key light, the fill light, and the back light.

A key light is the closest and shines directly upon the subject and is the principal illuminator determining the shots primary lighting.

The fill light is positioned on the opposite side from the key light and is typically softer intensity.

TIP: If you don’t have a softer fill light, you can increase softness by simply moving the fill light back approximately 2x the distance of the key light from the subject.

Finally, the back light is used to shine on the subject from above and behind in order to create a rim of light. This helps the subject standout from the background.

If shooting outdoors, you need to know if additional lighting is necessary at the shoot location and if outside, what the time of day will be? Equipment like a reflector can bounce sunlight onto a subject providing additional light when needed.

A standard floor lamp may do the trick, but I recommend buying some cheap soft box lighting systems. The Neewer kit sold here on Amazon comes with everything you need (including green screen) to get your lighting correct.

Studio microphoneSound & Music

Unless necessary, in almost every case, you should never use the built-in microphones on cameras. They will never have the level of quality needed for a production video.

Depending on where you’re filming, you can use a quality directional microphone like the Rode VideoMic Pro attached to your Camera which will record the audio to the video file, or you can record audio separately and apply it later when editing your video using an external digital recorder.

If you’re in a studio, it’s recommended you use a portable digital recording device like the Zoom H1n and a quality a lavalier microphone¬†or a boom with a shotgun microphone.

A useful tip to help synchronize your externally recorded audio with video is to press record on the camera and then use either a clapper board or clap your hands three times before speaking. This allows for easy synchronization of the hand claps in the video to the high-peaking audio recording later on in your video editing software.

In some cases you’ll want to add a soundtrack to the video. Make sure you use music that you have permission to use in your video. You don’t want to have your content removed, account removed, or worse sued for copyright infringement.

Using a service like Artlist.io provides licensed professional-quality soundtracks for use in your video content.

YouTube also has a library of soundtrack and sound effects that you may use freely.

calendar scheduleShooting Schedule

Depending on the type of video you’re creating, you may need to shoot in a studio or at multiple locations.

Typically, schedules are needed on big productions that span multiple days. In the industry these are called stripboards. Having a daily stripboard schedule helps ensure that everything needed to film and create the necessary content is scheduled and on location when needed and keeps everyone involved on schedule. For example, it helps ensure that any outdoor shots are scheduled and filmed during a necessary time of day for lighting purposes for that scene.

Stripboard schedules are also useful for coordinating any additional help you may need during filming.

Additionally, some locations may require permission to film, so be sure to get the necessary permission and/or permits.

A shoot checklist allows you to check off the scenes as you progress.

Each scene to shoot should have an identifying number. A location should have an identifying number. Finally, a checklist item should use these numbers to assist in organization.

For example, you can organize your filmed content by Shoot Date, Scene number, and Take number. This makes matching video and external audio records easier when you start filming with a clapper board containing the identifying information and state the same information in the audio recording.

Finally, plan in your schedule some time for reshoots if necessary. Sometimes during editing a scene just may not be able to be worked into the video. You need to reshoot to get the right lighting or change the script.

Adobe Premiere ProEditing

Editing the video in my mind is the most fun and challenging part of creating video content. With prior planning however, this should go fast.

This is where all the parts of your video and audio recordings come together. Using any storyboards and/or notes you may have made as a reference, you stitch together scenes and audio to create your final content.

A useful tip is to ensure all your video files are in a format that your software can use. Make sure your video and audio files are organized in folders that make sense. I like to organize them in folders by their identifying numbers. Shoot date / Scene Number / Then the files can be [date]_[scene#]_[take#].mp4 or whatever.

I use Adobe Premiere Pro. This is the industry standard, and the software I would recommend, but many others who exclusively use Apple Mac computers have had success with Final Cut Pro.

Editing software is a learned skill and you can only improve by working within the product. I also highly recommend watching tutorials and just playing around within the product to explore features and capabilities.

Resources

Below are some resources that relate to what is discussed in this article. You can use these freely to help guide you on your video content journey.

Video Concept Worksheet

Video Storyboard Template

Daily Video Shoot Stripboard Schedule Excel Template

Please let me know if this article was helpful to you and send me a link to your video you’ve created!


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