Practical Tips for DIY Corporate Videos
One of the great things about producing corporate video these days is you don’t need a pro to do it. Wait… did I really just write that? I am a video producer after all. Maybe I should re-think this.
No… it’s true. You do not need a video pro to produce your videos. In most cases, you should want a pro, but you technically do not need one.
If you’re interested in finding out when it’s okay to produce DIY corporate videos and when it’s not, your should check out our guide: How-to Produce Better DIY Videos
Now, should you choose to shoot your own videos, here are some tips for producing more professional-looking DIY corporate videos.
A side note, I first started outlining these thoughts for one of the PR industry’s best blogs, Spin Sucks.
Tip: camera position
When setting up to shoot an interview or yourself for a talk-to-camera video, make sure your camera lens isn’t too low. Many people who shoot video of themselves flip open their laptop, adjust the tilt to frame themselves, and then hit record.
The #1 thing you can do to improve the way you look in your videos is to stop doing this!
Shooting from a low angle tends to be very unflattering unless it’s a highly stylized perspective.
You want the camera lens to be even with your eyes or slightly higher. Think about how you take a selfie! Prop-up the laptop or camera on some books. Lower your chair a bit. You will look so much better.
Still not sure if you have the right angle? If you can see the crease where the wall meets the ceiling in your shot, your camera is too low!
Tip: lights, camera, action
Make sure you have good lighting. Most people just use the existing light in the room. They don’t think of the source location of the light in respect to their camera.
Position your light source to be right behind the camera lens and slightly above it. Think about all of those mobile news cameras you see on TV. Their lights are right on top of the camera pointing down at the people they’re recording.
If you can’t manage that, put the light just to the left or right of the camera… the closer to the lens the better.
Also, if your camera situation is mobile, set it up in front of a window. Natural light is AWESOME to light people on-camera.
A side note on lighting… maybe the worst scenario is when the room is fairly dark and the light from a computer screen is illuminating the person in front of the web camera. It will make you look… creepy. Avoid that at all costs.
Tip: perfect posture
Pick the right chair for interviews or talk-to-camera videos. Comfortable, fluffy chairs are no good. Chairs with high backs that can be seen in the shot are no good.
I tend to look for the most uncomfortable chair in the room (a metal folding chair is great!) and use that.
Why? It forces you to sit with good posture. Sit-up, smile, and be the star that you are!
Tip: don’t ignore audio
There are several ways to spot an amateur video, but for us pros… the easiest way to tell is by listening to it.
Amateurs get so wrapped-up in making sure their video looks good, they neglect audio and it’s a big mistake. Bad audio can take a perfectly good video and spoil the whole thing.
So… first thing is to pick a quiet room. You don’t want a place with lots of background noise.
Also, do you hear an echo in the room when you speak? If so, so will your audience.
Next, if you can, buy a microphone. You don’t have to invest a ton of money here, but every dollar you spend on audio is an investment in your finished video seeming more professional.
I love clip-on lavalier microphones for interviews and someone talking to the camera, but even getting a mini shotgun mic to attach to your camera will go a long way to improving your audio.
Shooting in a quiet space is even more critical. Pick a quiet room and position yourself as close to the camera as your shot will allow.
Tip: how-to frame your shots
Framing every shot the same way is another rookie mistake.
Videography is an art form. It takes a keen eye and lots of practice to master it. However, there are certain things you can do as an amateur to shoot better video.
The easiest one is to simply think about how you’re framing your shots. If they’re all a medium shot with your subject in the middle of the frame… you’re doing it wrong.
Think wide, medium, tight.
Let’s say you’re shooting video of someone working on a computer. First, shoot a wide shot of them where you see them with the whole room around them.
Next, get a shot of them that only shows them and the desk.
Finally, get a couple of tight shots… like their hands typing on the keyboard and their face as they look at the monitor.
Getting this series of shots will help BIG TIME when you go to edit.
Also, don’t be afraid to arrange the subject on different sides of the screen.
Think of your viewfinder in terms of thirds… left, middle, right. Shooting your subject on either side, as opposed to the center, often creates more appealing shots.
This is an especially good tip for framing interviews, whether the subject is talking directly to the camera, or off-camera in more of an interview style.
Make sure they’re not right in the middle of the frame. Slightly off-set them from the center.
And one last thing… especially when it comes to interviews… are you leaving too much headroom?
Many amateurs leave way too much space between the top of the frame and the top of a person’s head. You want a little space there, but just a little.
Tip: keep your camera steady
I’ll put it this way… your tripod is your friend.
Pros who shoot a lot of handheld video (myself included), do so with purpose. It’s a stylized look that is the result of years of practice. It’s a far cry from the amateur who is trying to hold the camera steady and failing.
Don’t have a tripod? Get one. Same rule as buying the microphone I mentioned above. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will keep your camera steady.
Master shooting off a tripod first, then you can learn to shoot handheld video.
If you are shooting video using your mobile phone, turn the phone on its side so your aspect ratio is horizontal, not vertical. Do not contribute to vertical video syndrome!
2019 research shows using vertical video might be better for social media videos, but I would only do this if the video is solely intended for social. If you’re producing a video you would like to use on multiple platforms… on your website, social, email, at events, in a sales presentation… I would stick with horizontal video.
While vertical video looks fine to someone watching on a phone, on every other platform it looks totally out of place.