By Meredith Barnhill
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t watch videos online today. Users can access videos everywhere: on desktops, laptops and even mobile phones. Fortunately, video production has gotten easier and cheaper over the past few years, and businesses are using this new medium as an affordable way to reach a wider client base. To get the best product for the price, consider equipment needs, editing software and hosting solutions.
Video camera prices have dropped significantly over the last year while ease-of-use and design have improved. You can find a decent camera for Web videos for under $200. A popular model is the Flip camcorder, which comes in standard and high-definition models. Other brands like Kodak and Sony have small hand-held cameras similar in design to the Flip around the same price. For a steady shot, you might want to invest in a tripod.
When shooting someone speaking, be mindful of the position of background elements to the speaker. It wouldn’t look professional if a flagpole appeared to stick out of the speakers head. Also, when filming in front of reflective surfaces like glass, be careful not to catch your own reflection. Angling your shot will help reduce the possibility of a unwanted camera person cameo. Use the photographer’s “rule of thirds” when shooting for better aesthetics. Make sure you film in a place that doesn’t echo–the audio quality on consumer cameras isn’t the best, but you can fake it with the right environment. Quality audio is just as important as getting a well-framed video.
Editing is where most of the work happens during video production. It can be as simple as exporting raw footage for direct viewing or can involve adding photos, extra audio and non-linear editing. Most consumer cameras come with their own editing software. If not, your computer might have software installed already like iMovie for Macintosh and Windows Movie Maker on Windows-based machines. When editing, first determine what your narrative will be. Then edit around that central message adding extra footage, photos or text to illustrate your points. When you’re done, use the export settings recommended by whatever hosting site you’re using. They should be in the help section of the Web site.
Since YouTube became popular, other companies sprung up trying to capitalize on video hosting and publishing. YouTube has millions of users and is the most widely recognized video hosting Web site. While they dominate in quantity of videos, they’re somewhat behind the curb in quality, only recently offering high definition settings for videos. Vimeo , a smaller video hosting and publishing company offers higher quality compression settings as well as a sleek playing skin. In the “plus” version, about $60 per year, you can customize the player to your liking, even removing the Vimeo logo when you embed the video on another site. Something YouTube doesn’t allow users to do.
Meredith Barnhill is the assistant director of Web Development and Communications at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. She shoots, edits and produces videos for use on southwestern.edu and youtube.com/InsideSU.