beginner video tips for making professional-looking videos
Peri Elmokadem

Written by:
Peri Elmokadem

8 Beginner Tips for Making Professional-Looking Videos

beginner video tips for making professional-looking videos

The average person spends more time watching videos online than reading text or looking at images. In fact, video accounted for 73% of all online traffic in 2016—meaning that when someone’s on the internet, there’s a high probability they’re watching a video.

It’s the easiest and most popular type of content to consume because: a) it’s so much easier to watch a video about, say, a Photoshop technique than read about it, and b) it’s the most powerful and versatile medium to communicate a message and engage an audience (second to live communication).

Despite all these perks that come with pushing video content online, it’s less competitive to distribute than text and image. This is because making videos is commonly intimidating to the average person, even though it isn’t that scary.

In this blog post, we’ll go through eight practical video tips to get you started on making videos as a complete beginner. By the end of it, you’ll be able to start incorporating videos into your company's content marketing strategy or even create an extra revenue stream by monetizing videos.

You can view the visual summary of this post below or skip ahead to read a detailed explanation of each practical video tip.

 

Infographic: 8 Video Tips for Beginners

beginner video tips for making professional-looking videos infographic
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1 Plan your video content.

Believe it or not, the content of your video matters a lot more than its quality.

That’s not to say quality isn’t important—it sure is! But if you had to give one aspect more attention, time and energy, it would be planning your content properly.

To plan your content, consider the following three video tips:

1. Outline your goal

What are you looking to achieve with your video? Are you trying to make people laugh? Are you trying to get them to visit your website? Are you promoting your product? Teaching them something new? Define your goal before moving on.

2. Identify your target audience

You can’t possibly target everyone in the world, because then who are you really talking to? Not having a clear vision of your ideal viewer groups will result in a diluted message within your video content. Your audience will determine the way you write your script, the way you shoot your video and the way you edit it. It will also determine where you distribute your videos depending on where your main audience hangs out online. Think of who you want to be seeing this, and then think of where on the internet they usually “hang out” so you can know to distribute it later.

3. Use the power of emotions

Emotions are what drive viewers to follow through with your call to action, whether that’s subscribing to your channel, sharing your video or buying your product. It’s been proven over and over again that emotions triggered by content are what drive the motivations to carry through with CTAs. Read up on ways to trigger emotional reaction through videos to naturally entice your audience to promote your brand to others.

 

2 Pick the right background.

The background for your video should never be an afterthought. It’ll help tell your story, send your message and contribute to your brand. It will also affect the quality of your video.

The background you choose will depend on the type of video you’re producing, your goals and your audience. The main two types are:

Real Backgrounds

These include a real-life environment such as an office, a living room or an outdoor location. Some people see this option as the easiest because you get to work with what you’ve got. Just make sure it’s not distracting, messy, or has anything that doesn’t contribute to the story, message or brand.

Fake Backgrounds

These backgrounds include green screens, curtains, or papers. Fake backgrounds are great for consistency. Green screens are specifically great because they allow you to replace your actual background with anything you want. However, they are hard to set up and work with, and aren’t recommended for beginner video creators.

Whichever background type you decide to go with, make sure you consciously pick the colors that flatter the foreground—especially the subject you’re filming. You want to be sure the colors in the frame are harmonious: neither clashing into a horrendous eyesore, nor so monotonous that it makes viewers fall asleep.

 

3 You don’t need to buy an expensive, new camera (for now).

Don’t stress too hard about which video camera to use, especially if you’re first starting off.

While you might feel compelled to spend a lot of money on a high-quality video camera, it’s really not necessary in the beginning of your video-making career when you don’t even know if this is something you will continue doing. Finding a decent camera to shoot quality videos isn’t hard these days. You probably know someone with a camera you could borrow, or you likely already have one lying around somewhere in your house (*hint your cell phone!*).

For example, this music video was shot entirely with an iPhone X:

Superb quality, right? Use it to your advantage while you figure out your video making endeavor. This will also put your camera needs into perspective for when you’re ready to buy a new one so you can avoid an unnecessarily expensive purchase.

So for now, use what you’ve got.

 

4 Avoid using your camera’s mic.

beginner video tips for making professional-looking videos avoid using your camera's mic
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The audio of your video can make or break your content, and there are a few simple things that you can do to save the integrity of your video’s audio quality.

The best way to capture audio from your subject is to use any microphone other than your camera's built-in mic. Using an external dedicated audio recorder is the simplest and most reliable way to capture audio. Although it’s not the end of the world if you have to use your camera’s mic, you should eventually get a separate one.

Whether the microphone you decide to use is on the subject’s body or on a boom, make sure that it's appropriately placed. If it’s attached to clothing, put it in a place where it picks up all the right sounds (the person’s voice), but doesn’t pick up miscellaneous sounds from jewelry, fabric rubbing or heavy breathing. If you’re using a boom, make sure it’s close enough to the subject to pick up their voice, but also be sure it’s out of the frame.

Before filming, always test the sound to make sure you’ve got all of the above set up correctly. For someone with no prior audio experience, that’s usually the only way to make sure you’re getting it right.

 

5 Use natural lighting.

Video production lighting is a whole system that requires more equipment than I’m sure you have at the moment.

The good news is natural lighting actually works best in photography and filming, and is the most guaranteed way for you to nail the lighting in your videos.

It’s best to shoot outdoors on a cloudy day, or during the golden hour (an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset). In those three conditions, the natural light is so soft and cinematic that it won’t make your subject squint, and no harsh light will be hitting their face.

What if it rains? Or what if you need your shoot to be indoors? Natural light is still your best bet. Pick a room that gets a lot of natural light through big or multiple windows. You can then add additional sources of light like ceiling lighting, table lamps and so forth to add more brightness if needed. Play and test the light with the subject’s position to see what looks best in video. In any case, make sure the subject isn’t facing the window directly or too closely, because that could possibly wash out your entire shot.

Again, play with it!

 

6 Film in small segments.

This will save you time and energy while both filming and editing.

It’s much easier to film short takes, since you or your subject will have fewer things to remember and more opportunities to reshoot something you didn’t like. Focusing on segmenting your script into smaller takes will also force you to communicate your message more clearly and concisely. It will also give you more flexibility in post production to edit the takes however you want to into the final product, and it won’t come out looking choppy.

Filming in short, distinct segments will also provide you with easy-to-use clips and sound bites to use in previews, trailers and samples while keeping your message intact.

 

7 Brush up on composition rules.

You’ve probably heard a lot about composition related to still photography, which is equally as important in videography. Composition is the way you choose to frame your subject in the video you’re about to capture. The safest way to frame your subject is to follow the rule of thirds, which divides the frame into a three-by-three grid, creating intersections that are ideal areas to place your subject.

Your subject should be placed at one of the intersections in your viewfinder, and their eyes should line up along the top line in the frame. Framing your subject dead in the center of the frame is usually a poor choice, especially for beginners, because you will end up with a lot of empty space in the top third of the frame. If your subject will vertically be in the center of the photo, at least be sure to align their eyes with the top line.

Mind the head! Don’t have too much space above the subject's head, but don’t cut off the top of their head either. In big dramatic face closeups, if you must cut something off, let it be the top of the subject’s head, not their chins.

 

8 Push your videos out into the world.

beginner video tips for making professional-looking videos put your videos out into the world
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No matter what kind of video you end up with, educational, entertainment, artistic or marketing, don’t hide it from the world.

Depending on your goals and audience, you can choose to distribute your videos on different platforms. If video marketing is what you’re after, you can push your videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube as regular posts or targeted ads. While your video will likely not be the next big thing on the internet, it will definitely generate brand awareness with people outside your current customer base and it will be worth it all.

If you’re looking to sell your videos online, you can launch a video website and OTT app to sell subscription access to your videos (Netflix style). This business model is great for generating passive income, since your customers would be on a recurring payment system and subscribing to view the same content you uploaded once.

The opportunities for directly or indirectly generating more money from video content are endless and competition isn’t so fierce as of right now. But it all starts with you getting behind a camera and filming.

Do you have any more awesome video tips to help beginners get started in the video-making realm? Tell us in the comments below.

 



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About the Author

Peri is a content marketer at Uscreen, an all-in-one platform that allows you to build and launch your very own video subscription business. She’s passionate about all things related to video production and video monetization. She’s a visual artist, traveler and dog lover (although she’s starting to warm up to cats).

5 responses to “8 Beginner Tips for Making Professional-Looking Videos”

  1. Shreya Verma says:

    Thanks for sharing such an informative post. This post gives information about how you can make professional videos. As everyone is interested in watching videos than written content so videos are the must for every business. These tips are very useful to many people.

  2. Zubida says:

    Nice to read very useful article. In addition, while making videos we should try to avoid two things: movement and zooming. Smartphones are not useful for focusing on things, so the less movement have done the better quality video we can get. If it is necessary to move, remember that movement should be subtle and slow. Thereby, camera has enough time to focus on each scene. The another things we need to avoid when using smartphone cameras is that zooming in and out of subjects. Try to get up closer of subjects.

  3. JJ says:

    Emotion can be a powerful thing in video production.. I will have to keep that in mind while we are filming. Do you have any other articles about what makes a good video production company?

  4. Rachel Frampton says:

    Thanks for this great article about production tips. I especially liked your tips to film short takes so that the subject has fewer things to remember and it’s easier to reshoot a small segment if you don’t like it. I’ll have to try this out when we do our shoot.

  5. Emma says:

    Hello i would just like to put this out there i am a preschool teacher and i always wanted to make videos for kids and entertain them i watched a whole lot of tutorials even spent some money on courses and etc. but i have came across this program: Video Maker FX and his was a whole game changer for me its very easy to use and my kids are very happy and entertained. Hope this helps somebody like it helped me.

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