We spoke to George Owen, Founder of ITCH – an agency that creates compelling stories through film, animation and photography – to discover his tips for creating impactful videos and presentations when you’re working from home or unable to get into a studio. Be gone mundane talking heads. Whether you’re contemplating designing a company-wide preso or you simply want to fix your lighting and connectivity, these practical tips will help make creating captivating video and presentations a walk in the park.
“The most common mistakes we see when people are filming without outside direction are positioning – being too close or too far away from the screen – or positioning themselves off centre. Lighting is another issue for people creating videos at home, but there are some really simple ways to make instantaneous improvements.” – George Owen – ITCH
In reality, you want a good source of front light, and it must be well directed.
The best set up is to have your main light in front of you, but to the side, so you’re gently lit up on one side. If you have a second, less bright light, set it up in front and off to the other side. Don’t backlight, or you’ll be in shadow, and if you do nothing else, invest in a simple ring light, it will light up your face and make the world of difference to your general video quality. If any part of the image is under-exposed, it will appear grainy for the viewer. So check your lighting!
Camera position and Background
Whilst we’re all more forgiving about the location videos are being made/taking place from, if you want people to focus on you, make sure your background is uncluttered. A simple piece of art is fine but much more and your background becomes distracting. Seamless photo backdrops can be bought online, but they’re overkill unless you’re filming something that needs to be totally polished. Try to position yourself centrally on your screen, with your eyeline in front of your camera – no one needs to see a nostril shot. Don’t leave big gaps above your head or sit off to the side. General good practice is to be around an arms-length from your screen (avoid your face being too close – it feels quite intrusive!).
We always recommend headphones with a mic, or a plug-in external mic. Really anything other than your computer’s built-in microphone (old PCs are the main culprits for dreadful audio). Make sure your Wifi connection is good, and always run a speed test before important calls or videos. Other suggestions include kicking the kids off the Wifi, sitting near your router or considering investing in a mesh system if you’re struggling for connectivity.
Here are a few at home mics we’d recommend:
It’s really important to organise and frame your content if you’re delivering a video presentation. Start by making a list of the core messages, then work to a word count of 120-150 words per minute (that’s ‘average’ talking speed).
Autocue and Direction
Autocues can be really helpful for down the lens video content, especially if you want to deliver lots of information concisely and/or you need to stick to a time limit. They are also helpful if you want to practice delivering your content beforehand as you’ll be able to record yourself and watch it back to find out where you might make improvements. Of course, you can have your autocue professionally done, but there’s also online autocue tools like Cue Prompter to get you started. Make sure you position the autocue so it’s at eye level in line with your camera – that way no one will see you looking down or off to the side.
Design-led Graphics and Cinematic Visuals
Clean, modern graphics are the best way to communicate complex information. Charts and stats brought to life with animations are a brilliant way to engage with video-fatigued audiences. Consider simplifying ideas with cinematic videos. If you need a hand, shout.
Use software to improve the quality of your recordings. Keep it simple for your guests. We provide clients with access to our software which allows them to record locally and then the file will automatically be sent to us – avoiding the sometimes-farcical lengthy file transfer. Otherwise, Google ‘quality video recording software’ and you’ll get a load of options – some free, some paid for. It’s definitely worth the research for a higher quality record.
In a perfect world, all videos should be subtitled. It’s been proven that videos with subtitles get far more engagement and watch time – especially on the likes of LinkedIn where those browsing will often have their sound off. Make sure you’re speaking to local markets by subtitling all your video content. We bake in subs for client videos, but you can also use helpful generators such as HappyScribe or Descript.
Big thanks to George for the video tips. You can get in touch with ITCH by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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