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February 5, 2015

11 Ways to Take Your Scrappy In-House Videos from Sub-Par to Os-car

If you’re already producing videos in-house, you’re one hurdle further than the rest of the pack. If you’re not yet, no sweat – who doesn’t love a good challenge, right?

In all honesty, in-house video production doesn’t have to be a daunting exercise. It also doesn’t have to be your exclusive means of video creation, but producing in-house can certainly help up your output of video content.

But that doesn’t mean you can just webcam your way to the top; the more professional you make these, the better. And for professional, in-house production, keep these tips in mind. Chances are you’ll come out the other end surprised at the quality of video you can create on your own.

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1. Stay away from windows (generally)

We all crave that natural light, but your camera lens doesn’t. Shooting directly into natural light never ends well as your camera will have difficulty balancing the bright light from outside and the darker light inside, leaving your subject’s face way too dark. In addition, the sun’s light is always changing, which means you can sometimes run into issues with multiple shots in the same scene having different shadows and light levels.

2. Compose your shots with the rule of thirds in mind

The rule of thirds involves a division of your screen into 9 equally sized sections. Aligning your subject along these lines or at intersections make the video content more natural and easy to consume.

3. Place your subject at least 1 meter from any backdrop

Unless you’re filming a video for that velcro wall ride at Six Flags, pull your subject away from the wall! This provides some depth to your shot and keeps things a little less flat and a little more interesting for your viewers.

4. Light up those shadows

If you don’t have professional lighting at your disposal, you’ll have to work with what you’ve got, but do your best to minimize shadows on your subject’s face. Similarly, if you’re using professional lighting, make sure to have at least two lights. One lights up your subject and the other fills in the shadows that the first created.

5. Beware of “subtle” background noises

You’ll really have to tune in for this one. Subtle sounds that you may not regularly notice in your office can become a big problem when recording audio. Stay away from vents, areas where people or traffic will pass by, and large rooms that might create an echo.

6. Use a tripod

Professional videos don’t have shaky scenes, so yours shouldn’t either. A tripod is one thing you’ll want to invest in – (steady) hands down!

7. Record at a minimum resolution of 720p

We recommend this resolution as it’s big enough that you’ll get high quality, crisp and clear shots but isn’t so big that the file size is too large to handle.

8. Keep the final production in mind

It’s easy to get caught up in each shot on the day of your shoot, but don’t forget the overall theme and end goal of your video. What location will create the feeling you’re aiming for? What camera angles do you need to keep things interesting? What b-roll do you need to make sure you capture? Even better – plan this all out beforehand in a storyboard!

9. Don’t be afraid to hack together a solution

Just because you don’t have a full warehouse full of video equipment doesn’t mean you should hold back. Try improvising! Record audio with your mobile phone if you don’t have a professional mic or use the crop function to create the effect of multiple cameras, like we did with the video below.

10. Keep your background simple

What’s the focus of your shot? Chances are it’s not your background. So choose a location with a simple background and if you can’t find a great wall to shoot in front of, or want to use your office as a background, make sure you know how to shorten the depth of field on your camera so the background is out of focus and viewers can keep their attention on your subject.

11. Give yourself editing options

Make sure that you give yourself enough room to play with when it comes time to edit your video. That might mean taking multiple shots of the same scene so you can choose the best one later or taking more b-roll than you think you need. In the words of our Creative Director: “you can never have too much b-roll!”.

Want more? Get started setting up your own in-office studio with this guide. Learn what equipment you’ll need as a bare minimum, what you can add to your wishlist, how much it will all cost, and how to set it all up!

In-house Production

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Kimbe MacMaster

Kimbe MacMaster

Kimbe is the previous Manager of Content Marketing at Vidyard. She loves all aspects of content marketing and has a special place in her heart for using video to drive real business results. She is also moderately (okay extremely) obsessed with her fluffy chow chow, Noah.

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