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5 Quick Hacks to Making Videos for Your Business

Updated: Nov 10

So normally the first thing I would say is to plan ahead, but you might not have the time. Or maybe you are planning ahead and this is your first step of the planning. Maybe you just need a refresher. Regardless of your situation, I'm here to help. Here are 5 quick tips for making higher quality videos for your business:



1. QSQ - KEEP IT QUICK & SIMPLE & QUIET

Not matter what type of business you have, or even what type of video you want to make, SIMPLIFY IT. If you feel it's pretty simple, simplify it again right now. The most successful videos that come in under budget are the ones that have a clear, concise message that is conveyed in a very short amount of time. The simplest videos that are still being made today (and are going viral) are the ones where one person is talking to camera, some graphics pop up, and there is music in the background, and it's 15sec or less. Best of all, people are still managing to be super creative here! (And don't worry, more on how to get creative in other ways is below)


A lot of those really cool videos you are seeing have added amazing effects and eye-popping color in post-production (aka the edit). While shooting, the film set is... well, frankly... quite boring. It's quiet, there's usually one person talking, the colors in the camera look unsaturated, and it's repeated over and over again until the shot is captured correctly. This is the way your set should be run. This keeps everyone focused on the tasks at hand, gets you clean audio, reduces accidents, and helps you finish your project on time and under budget.


2. USE THE RULE OF THIRDS (or GRID)


The "Rule of Thirds" refers to your camera's field of vision. It divides up your framed shot into a 3-by-3 grid, like a tic-tac-toe. The grid can be turned on in most cameras. The iPhone offers this in Settings --> Camera --> Composition --> Grid.



If you don't have a grid option, just imagine evenly dividing up your framed shot through your monitor into 3 X 3 boxes. If you wanted to place two people talking to one another, you should place them on the lines going top to bottom.


Note the places where the lines intersect. These end up being the most interesting spots in the frame due to the negative space around the subject. It's best situate important elements of the video here if you can.


Also note that every camera has at least two different framing options:

-Landscape Mode - which is typically used for widescreen film or video, including YouTube.


-Portrait Mode - which is typically used for social media posts, specifically Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook Stories.


The best part: The "Rule of Thirds" will still apply no matter which mode you use! Here is a great way to move things around and get creative with your simplified shoot.

3. SHOOT AT LEAST TWO ANGLES


Another simple hack for making videos for your business is to shoot your subject matter from 2 different angles. Most professional shoots will bring two cameras to set. One will be focused on the action straight on and the other one will be off to the side at a 45 degree angle or more. This lets actors complete the scene once and you get two different shots! Now when you're editing, you can place two shots together seamlessly, cutting out any footage that doesn't work or when an actor might mess up.


Note you can also shoot the same angel but one can be placed far away (aka wide shot) and the other could be zoomed in (aka close up shot). Having a variety of shots lets you get even more creative and tell the story in multiple ways.


If you choose to use two cameras, make sure:


1. They are the same ones, and/or programmed with the same settings. They don't have to be completely identical, but it certainly helps to match the shot.


2. Make sure the two cameras don't capture one another in the shot (obviously).


*If you can't get two similar cameras, it's completely okay to use just one and shoot the scene several several times. Move the camera to a different angle or a different shot once you are done with getting the right shot from the first angle.


4. GET THE CONTRACTS


Another simple hack for creating videos for your business is to make sure you have all your agreements in writing. As a business owner, I'm sure you know all about getting contracts signed for the products or services you provide. Or if you have employees, you're familiar with the onboarding process and tax forms.


Well, the same goes for renting spaces, getting insurance, or hiring actors or subcontractors for your videos. Even if you will be using your own employees for the whole production, they will still need to grant you permission to use their likeness for the video or you may need a waiver of liability in case of injury. I know you might be thinking "These are my employees though. Nothing's going to happen". Great! Get the contracts signed anyway. The last thing you want is to be sued because something wasn't technically in the original hiring paperwork. You will need at least two forms:


  1. Appearance Release Form - a legal document which grants you the rights to use footage of your talent for promotional purposes and releases the company from any liability pertaining to invasion of privacy or defamation.

  2. Waiver of Liability - a legal acknowledgement that someone is working at their own risk and that the person won’t sue or hold the production company liable.


And if you are using any subcontractors:


3. Crew Deal Memo - a legal document outlining the terms and details of a crew member’s employment with a production company to provide clarity of expectations and protections for both the company and employee.


Bonus Tip: Subscribe to my mailing list, and I'll send you templates for these contracts for FREE! Just type "TEMPLATES" in the message box.


And speaking of hiring subcontractors...


5. HIRE SUBCONTRACTORS (and learn)

I'm not going to ignore the most obvious hack to making videos for your business: hiring video professionals. You can certainly hire videographers, a sound mixer, and an editor and learn while on set. If the budget allows for it just once, you will get even more video hacks by watching and learning. Now, not everyone will want to give away their best secrets like me, so unless you will be completely transparent with your subcontractors, I would be more observant than anything else.


Take notes: What equipment are they using, specifically? What are the camera settings? What's the lighting and sound setup like? How much time do they need? How are the crew members communicating? What program is the editor using to edit? You're not going to get a degree in film directing, but you will walk away with a generous amount of knowledge of the process.


And the professionals you hire are worth every penny! Chances are they have years of experience and knowledge, and just as you may want 15 minutes of a millionaire entrepreneur's time, you can learn a lot in 15 minutes from a camera person.




Stefano Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of Transgress Studios LLC, a film and video production company serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2013, Stefano has produced an array of media including feature-length narratives, shorts, docs, promotional content, and live events. You can contact him directly at stefano@transgressstudios.com or call 415-580-2066.

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