Want to achieve video content that gets noticed on social media, while staying on budget?
Here are five ways to get professional results with DIY video content—even when your crew is just you.
1. If you don’t want a scripted video, still make a plan.
Sometimes it makes sense to forego a script to allow your subject(s) to be themselves and connect with an audience. Some examples might be a how-to video, an expert testimonial or an informal interview.
You want authenticity, but you also can’t ignore structure. Start drawing up your plan by asking yourself: What is my objective? Who is my audience? What do I want to convey? These will influence the interview questions.
Now, create a beginning, middle and end beat to your story. Form a few questions around those 3 beats, and don’t be afraid to capture answers to those questions over multiple takes.
2. Get good audio.
So much talk goes into which cameras to use and how to frame a shot, but if you need to generate content for social media, you will lose an audience in the initial few seconds if the sound quality is poor. People are much more forgiving about rough visuals than rough audio.
Film in a quiet spot free from disruptions. With video, audience engagement is steady up until 2 minutes and falls precipitously thereafter, but your audience will bail immediately if the sound is bad, so think about investing in a good recorder for a couple of hundred dollars.
3. Pony up for consumer cameras that give professional results.
If you want to up your game beyond filming with an iPhone, source a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) consumer camera and a tripod as your main interview camera (also known as your “A-camera”). To boost the production value, for around $350 you can buy an Osmo camera with a “gimbal.” This handy little device allows you to keep the camera steady while walking and prevents any “jittery” motion. You’ll be surprised at how cinematic the results can be when you are “tracking” with your subject.
4. Take advantage of natural light.
Do-it-yourself lighting is tricky. If you don’t have an extra set of hands or a lighting package, use natural light from a window with the subject facing toward the window and the camera operator’s back to the window. If you are willing to invest a little more time and energy, YouTube has plenty of tutorials on how to build a DIY lighting setup with a paper lantern and a dimmer (available on Amazon) for around $30.
5. Think like an editor.
When in doubt, always do multiple takes—but know when you can “cut away” to a still or an infographic to take the pressure off your subject. It can be challenging for them to remember and relay complex information in a list form.
Thinking like an editor allows you to focus on capturing the right content without burning out your subject. It will also save you valuable time in the edit room, sifting through flubbed takes.
Adam Stehle holds an MFA in film from Columbia University and is head of Creative Video Production at BlueprintNYC, an agency that produces engaging and innovative experiences through live meetings and events, training and internal communications.
This article originally appeared on PR Daily in September of 2018.