I recently had an opportunity to co-present a webinar titled: 5 Tips for Simple In-House Video Creation with Michael Helton, Director of Technology and Training at Combined Insurance, and Paula Crerar, Director of Content Marketing here at Brainshark. We had over 400 attendees, which tells me there’s a lot of curiosity about do-it-yourself video production.
We fielded many great questions, but we weren’t able to get to all of them, so I thought I’d post some ‘bonus’ responses here.
Q: Any tips for filming action shots (eg; panning as a person walks past)?
That’s a tough one to answer, as it will mainly depend on what the action is, and the style you’re going for. If you’re a beginner to shooting video, you might try having the action move around a stationary camera. For your person-walking-past scenario, you could have them just walk by the camera on the tripod without any panning. If you’re able to do a number of these still/action shots, some tight editing will make them very compelling without the potential for making anyone dizzy. And as I mentioned in the webinar, the less movement going on in the frame, the better the video compression and final quality will be.
That said, small pans with a sturdy tripod are probably the next step. And you might want to limit your pans to no more than 20-30 degrees or so rather than a sweeping long pan. You can also pan up-and-down rather than just side-to-side with great effect.
If you haven’t seen the testimonial we did with Con-way Trucking, it may give you some good ideas for integrating subtle pans and movement along with well-paced editing.
Q: Any tips for using video within Brainshark? Recommended format?
Brainshark accepts over 100 different video formats, but there isn’t really one recommended format. I would recommend outputting your video to whatever format you’re comfortable with and have worked with in the past (Windows Media, QuickTime, MP4 for example). However, we do recommend you limit your output to around 512 kbps. Check out our “Best Practices for Video” (PDF) guide for more details.
There are probably more ways of using video than I can cover here, or even think of, but the most common use of video is to insert brief interview clips into your presentations. It’s a great personal touch if someone can see a presenter talk rather than just hear them. Or if the presenter is talking about a venue for a trade show, clips of the event or venue might be great.
Video is also a good tool for product demonstrations. If done well, pointing a camera at a monitor or mobile device and demonstrating software ‘live’ can be very effective and more personal than just using screen capture software. Clips don’t need to be very long, and can be a great enhancement to standard Brainshark productions.
Here at Brainshark HQ, we’ve used video quite a bit for customer testimonials. Seeing someone on video actually talking about your product or service can be very effective marketing tool. And we’re discovering more uses for video all the time. We recently created a quick video tutorial demonstrating how to assemble our trade show booth, which makes life much easier for someone out on the road. They can load the video up on their mobile phone, right on the show floor, and see the actual pieces being assembled step-by-step.
Q: Would you recommend using DSLRs?
Without knowing your experience with video cameras, I would recommend the camera style that you’re most comfortable with. If you have photography experience, a DSLR is an excellent idea. Lighting and composition are much the same with video as with photography, and most DLSRs these days shoot amazing video and photos. A lot of beginners may be intimidated the DSLRs given these cameras are built for photographers, so it might be better to stick with a consumer or prosumer camcorder if you’re not used to SLR cameras.
At Brainshark, we recently picked up a Sony NEX-VG10 HD pro camcorder with an interchangeable zoom lens. The interchangeable lens with the manual focus ring makes all the difference in controlling depth of field, which looks as great in video as it does in photographs. It also has an unusually large image sensor chip which makes a big difference in video quality and light sensitivity, especially when compared to other consumer cameras shooting at the same resolution.
Q: What are the names of some of the "YouTube Stars" you mentioned? I want to know which ones are the best to check out.
I personally like Philip DeFranco who does a daily ‘news’ show discussing current events. His editing style is very choppy, which I wouldn’t recommend for most corporate productions, but it works well for keeping up the pace and making the show more entertaining.
Also, here is a list of the top 100 most subscribed-to YouTube channels.
Q: Do you have any advice or best practices to offer on shooting talent against green screen for virtual sets vs. "real" sets?
Here at Brainshark, we’re still experimenting with green screen use. The main decision point for me for using green screen at all was that the editing software we use (Adobe Premiere Pro) keys out green screen very nicely. I didn’t want any ‘halo’ effects, or any hints that we’d used a green screen, so post-processing is key.
As for how we use it, again, I try not to let on that we’re using a green screen at all. One trick we’ve tried to great effect is using live video as a backdrop. For example, in this video, we shot Marc McNamara, our VP of Solution Services, against a green screen in a small conference room so we could control the sound, not be distracted or disrupted, and wouldn’t disrupt anyone around us. We then shot video a few minutes of footage of our offices and used it as a blurred backdrop to the first video, creating the sense that we conducted the interview in the open.
You can also do backgrounds with still images rather than video, but I tend to stay away from backdrops that don’t look natural. Blurring the background gives a nice depth of field, which I love in good video and photography.
We’ve also used the green screen in another similar interview scenario, but just swapped in a slightly gradated white background. Solid backgrounds allow the viewer to more easily focus on the speaker without distractions, which is nice for longer videos.
The other great thing about green screens is you have additional control over video placement. If you shoot a subject in the middle of the frame, and then later decide you want to use the ‘rule of thirds’ and place that person on the side of the frame instead, or just move them over a bit so you can fit in a graphic overlay, you can do that easily when the green background is keyed out and you are left with just the subject.
Do you have video tips, best practices or questions you’d like to share?