Video has long been one of the most effective ways to foster connection to employees and customers. Suddenly, it’s essential, and we’re seeing executives using their phones or webcams to send out short video updates.
With this guide, Laudable is sharing our secrets and best practices learned from the hundreds of remote shoots we've run and dozens of tools and tactics we've tested.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a typical webcam recording vs. a phone recording using our guide.
First up, you need some supplies. A few simple tools work wonders for capturing your best selfie video. Would you spend $200 once to improve the quality of all of your videos, forever? You can purchase a pre-bundled video selfie kit that includes our favorite supplies and required adapters here, or you can find and purchase your own supplies online.
We recommend the following basics:
Ok, so what’s a good background?
Sunlight is your best friend. Seek out indirect soft light that comes from windows and is positioned behind the camera.
Do not sit with a window at your back. Instead, try to position yourself so that any windows are behind the camera.
Still not sure if you've got it right?
Do a DIY “exposure test” on your room’s lighting. Is the room is well-lit enough that you can read? Great, turn off any lamps or overhead lights, which are typically yellow-toned and will clash with cooler-toned natural light. If the sunlight is bright and direct, casting harsh highlights and shadows, diffuse it by lowering or closing your blinds or curtains.
Before filming, turn off any sources of background noise, including fans, air conditioners, heating units, TVs, other appliances, and phone notifications. Turn it on airplane or do not disturb mode as even a vibrating notification can disrupt your video.
As mentioned earlier, an external mic will make your voice sound loud and clear while minimizing echo. The mic will also reduce room noise and any competing noises.
To avoid seeing a long cord in the video, string the lav mic under your shirt and attach it to your collar first, then plug it into your phone. If you have a phone without a headphone jack, you’ll need an adapter (iPhones 7 and newer take a 3.5 mm to lightning port adapter).
With your phone positioned horizontally in the tripod’s phone holder AT EYE-LEVEL (!), position yourself in the frame.
Use the “rule of thirds,” which says that you shouldn’t be exactly center, but over one of the imaginary lines if you were to divide your screen frame into thirds horizontally and vertically.
We like to cheat by turning on the phone camera’s grid lines. On an iPhone, go into the Settings app from the home screen, tap on Photos & Camera, scroll down and tap the switch next to Grid.
Now that you’ve staged your setup, focus on nailing pitch-perfect content. Filming a message without an audience to provide real-time reactions can feel a bit awkward. We recommend pretending you’re speaking to one person via FaceTime. Use gestures that you might make in conversation or when presenting in person.
If you will be using a script or talking point notes, instead of trying to read from paper propped up behind the tripod, use a teleprompter app like PromptStart Pro, where you can simultaneously record and view text on-screen. This will allow you to speak into the camera, maintain eye contact, and feel confident to improvise a bit. Remember that you can always stop and start again, and small hiccups or pauses can even add to the authenticity of your video.
Depending on the content of your message, you’ll need to figure out the best length for your video. Wherever possible, it’s key to keep it short and sweet. Focus your message on a few critical points, with an emphasis on impacts, outcomes, or actions.
There are loads of guides to “the best video length,” but we’ve found that there is no silver bullet. Ideal length depends on your industry, audience, message complexity, video use case and channel. We like videos that are thirty seconds to two minutes long, but if you’re filming a more comprehensive update, a longer clip may be necessary.
Depending on your use case, you may need little or no editing, you may be able to DIY with an easy video editor like iMovie, Magisto, Promo, or Biteable, or you may need a professional to use a tool like Adobe Premiere or Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Keeping it simple, we like to think of editing needs as falling into these categories:
We hope these tips are helpful in getting you started with creating high-quality videos from home. Good luck, and remember that done is better than perfect!