This summer, we were very excited to participate in the BloggerConf event in Dublin! BloggerConf is a leading conference for bloggers, YouTubers, and digital creatives, attracting up-and-coming writers, storytellers and vloggers from all over Ireland.
Our CEO Simeon was invited to hold an hour-long masterclass to present practical advice on a range of actionable topics within video marketing to help businesses and online creators stand out and grow their overall marketing efforts and brand awareness. These topics ranged from video planning and editing to equipment, focusing on low-budget options and suggesting options to upgrade.
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And this actually wasn’t our first time at BloggerConf; Simeon was also a speaker at the very first one, back in November 2015, where he also had great fun introducing some creative filming techniques and user-friendly equipment suggestions.
Below, we collated the most actionable advice that the attendees could quickly put into use in a matter of days, with pointers to what matters the most when creating video to move the target audience and make the best impact.
The tips are listed as a step-by-step process as we believe that this purposeful consistency is the key to stellar video content.
Step 1: Plan before you shoot
Now, before you think “How is planning actionable?”, hear us out. The worst thing you can do is have the most expensive equipment, the best team, and ideal filming conditions, while going completely unprepared and clueless as to what needs to be an outcome of the filming.
Rough ideas are a great start, but if you don’t have an outline and if you haven’t truly brainstormed details, you will struggle while shooting your video and you may return to the office with lots of unusable material.
Luckily, there is an easy way to tackle this that doesn’t damage your budget, and it gets your entire team involved. You can do this through a mind mapping app (Simeon used SimpleMind) or you can simply use pen and paper.
In his masterclass, Simeon used BloggerConf as a video topic example, as if he was planning to go to a video shoot at the conference. Here are the steps he took to plan out his hypothetical topics and shots he would be focusing on:
- Firstly, he listed some common visuals you can see at a conference: interviews, attendees, speakers, venue.
- He then continued by adding details and categories for each, for example: questions he’d ask the attendees, the shots (wide/close-up) he’d take of the speakers on stage, the shots he’d take of the venue, the attendees taking notes, and so on.
- These steps can be repeated as long as there are new ideas coming up.
This should always be done in a way that focuses on the overarching brand and business goals and allows the use of this audio and video to convey those points and stay true to the company’s core values.
Step 2: Connect your audio and video
Without a plan, you may be overwhelmed by hours of audio and video and no clue what to do with them. But because you now have a plan, you can strategically approach your editing process while you’re still recording.
To do this, it’s important to be aware of all the sounds and visuals as you shoot them, as you get to catch important soundbites and frames that can help you focus on getting even more footage that will complement this.
So here’s an example. Using the same video topic – the BloggerConf, let’s say that in one of your interviews, an attendee talks about how much they loved the dynamic of the MC and how well people reacted to it. In your post production, you can perfectly match this audio with what is called b-roll – inserted supplemental footage over that audio – of MC’s dynamic on the stage and the audience laughing.
Of course, the best way to do this is to capture your interviews as early in the day as you can to give yourself time and get all the shots later in the day.
This way, you will build dimension, commonalities and connections between your frames, sounds and sequences and create a natural flow that will resonate with your audience.
Step 3: Know what you can get away with
There may be many challenges while you’re out there filming, which is why the first two steps are crucial – this way, you can reduce the downfalls to a minimum.
However, they may happen, and it’s important to know which ones will be tolerated by the audience and which ones will be unforgivable.
When it comes to picture quality, there is often a chance to run into issues, and one of the most often ones is a shaky camera. If this happens to you, don’t panic – a steady camera isn’t always stylistically necessary, and you may actually get a better result if it isn’t steady! A good example of this is when filming a ‘rush’, when an unsteady picture may add to the overall feeling of the video.
A key point that Simeon brought up here is a situation when an unsteady picture won’t work well, and that is when the subject of the recording is a static person or situation. In this case, the camera needs to be positioned firmly.
And lastly, Simeon emphasised that, while viewers may tolerate poor video, they will never tolerate poor audio, so it’s key to prioritise recording the best sound possible.
Step 4: Level-up your equipment
This is a step that comes into play only after the first three steps have been mastered. Once you get them right, you can start planning your investment into a few key pieces of equipment that will step up your video efforts.
The first one is a microphone, and it’s important because the built-in microphones in smartphones and cameras are solid, but they can’t overcome some environmental challenges and aren’t the best when filming a person talking.
Unusable audio can ruin great video, so to avoid that, Simeon recommended a clip-on SmartLav+ Lavalier microphone by Rode that is easily connected to a smartphone or a camera, and the prices start as low as £45.
Next, in case you are using a DSLR camera for your videos, you may want to improve your video quality with the right lenses.
You can do this by focusing on the lenses’ focal lengths, keeping in mind the following:
- The focal length of a lens is determined by a number stated on its side. The lower the number, the wider the lens!
- In practical terms, you can use various lenses and focal lengths based on how much of a background you want to include in your frame when you are, for example, presenting to camera.
- If you wanted to get a more blurred background with your face still in perfect focus, you could opt in for a zoom lens, stand further away from the camera and zoom in on your face.
This way, you will be able to make the camera work for you and get you results you want!
And finally, Simeon spoke about lights. The most budget-friendly option is definitely the ring light, and the prices start around £100.
If you decide to invest in any kind of lights, keep the following principles in mind:
- Light should never come from underneath the subject you’re filming (for example, from under the person’s face), and you should test the light positioning and angles to find what causes the least amount of shadows or flattering shadows.
- If you are working with more than one light, build your scene, one light at a time. It’s like cooking! One ingredient at a time!
- Whenever possible, separate the light from the camera to get flattering light. A light on the camera can look boring.
And that’s how Simeon concluded his masterclass! We had great fun in Dublin, and we’d recommend BloggerConf to anyone in the creative field looking to learn a lot about getting their voice and message out there and creating a successful online presence to blogging and vlogging. We hope to be back soon!
If you need help with your video marketing, we’d love to chat to you! Send us a message to see how we can work together and help you level up your storytelling through video.