Last week, I wrote the first post in this series on "Videos for Small Business" and I discussed why videos are key to a successful marketing strategy.
An interesting statistic about sales and videos, 64 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Shawn Collins, Content Creator at Gradus Group and Matthew Hill, Director of Marketing at Gradus Group. Shawn and Matthew shared their knowledge on what are the key pieces of equipment to start shooting videos.
What is the basic set up (equipment) for shooting great videos?
As with most things, there's a broad answer and then a more nuanced truth. Every job, on the video/film spectrum, will call for different tools (and combinations). In general, you'll always want a great camera, sharp lenses, reliable storage/recordable media, controllable lighting and quality sound. A common kit might be a DSLR or mirrorless camera, mounted on a fluid-head tripod, attached to a shotgun mic and lighted via a standard 3-point setup.
As many of your small businesses will experience, equipment costs can really add up when producing great content. To counter this, I approached the Studio Monitors video with a lean and economical game plan. I was shooting in a small space (one of our conference rooms), so I was able to get a lot of mileage out of just two 300-LED light panels.
I had one light, camera right, pointing toward me at a 45° angle from an Impact brand light stand. I had the other light panel behind me, camera left, and just out of frame.
This was elevated with an Impact multiboom light stand and pointed at my back to create some visual separation between the subject (me) and the wall.
LED lights, like the Genaray SpectroLED, are lightweight, can be battery powered and aren't hot to the touch. This makes them great for quickly setting up, staying flexible and easily packing away.
In theory, you can get more light for less money by going the high-wattage Tungsten Fresnel route but since I wasn't lighting a parking lot, I found LED's to be much easier to work with.
The camera was mounted to a Magnus VT-4000 fluid-head tripod for stability and easy framing. Sound was captured through a Senal MS-77 shotgun DSLR microphone. This was suspended above my head by an Auray booming mic stand that was just out of frame, camera right, and wired into my GH4's 3.5mm microphone input with the help of a Pearstone 25' extension cable.
What type of options are there for the basic set up?
As I mentioned before, one can use Tungsten or LED lighting, depending on the project. If you need to light a large space on a tight budget, the former may be the way to go. The downside is that the lights are extremely fragile and become so hot that, if handled improperly, could cause serious burns. They also need continuous power and, on most sets, call for a dedicated generator.
LED's, on the other hand, are much easier to move and transport as they weigh significantly less than their Fresnel counterparts and can be operated with a battery or AC power.
As LED's are still considered relatively new technology, some major productions have been slow to embrace them (this will change), but they've been found invaluable on smaller-scale shoots. A small business owner should almost certainly invest in LED lights. This Genaray SpectroLED kit would be a great start. There's also great middle-ground between Tungsten and LED in fluorescent lighting. Impact's line-up is worth checking out.
Camera monitors will be chosen based on a variety of criteria. Resolution, size, weight and software tools will all play a part in the deciding factor. For example, one monitor may display in 720p resolution while another offers 1080p. One may have vector scopes for statistical analysis of your image.
You'll also need to consider whether you need a monitor that doubles as a recorder. For most small businesses, cost will probably weigh heavier than most of the other specs. For that reason, I'd recommend something inexpensive and versatile. The Elvid FieldVision 7" is a great solution.
How to use each item (or tips on how to practice with each piece of equipment)?
Spend time researching online. There are so many wonderful videos from seasoned operators on YouTube that do an excellent job at teaching how to get the best results with your respective gear.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes (hopefully during practicing/rehearsal) and find what works for you. A colleague of mine is a professional photographer and teaches lighting workshops. He always instructs his students to learn the "rules" and then find ways of breaking them that bring out their best work.
Why are each of these items for the basic set up important for a video shoot (for small business)?
It's important for small businesses to use great gear because, as it is often stated, you only get one shot at making a first impression. Decades of digesting video have created expectations in consumers when it comes to professionalism. Skimp on the quality of your video and a potential buyer may see that as an indication of shoddy goods or insipid services.
You'll want a strong camera to reproduce colors as accurately as possible and capture a wide dynamic range. This helps create a rich image that folks will want to spend time looking at. Having great glass (or lenses) will ensure your subjects are sharp and clear.
Reliable storage/recordable media is important because, as a small business, you probably don't have the expendable budget to allow for wasted shooting days or takes that weren't captured because the memory card glitches out or the hard-drive decided to go belly-up.
Having a field-monitor helps you (or your director of photography) ensure that what's happening in the frame is exactly as you've intended. In sound, you can't mix what you can't hear. The same is true in video. If you can't see what's happening, you won't be able to make visual decisions. The main benefit to small business filmmakers will be a larger display for pulling focus and sharing a live-preview with talent/decision makers.
Lighting is critical to telling your story. It can create mood and inform the viewer about tone. More practically, it allows the audience to see all of the other hard work that's going into the frame. You'll want to be able to produce enough light to create a noise-free image and then shape that light with modifiers to create style and artistic expression.
Quality sound, although often overlooked, is probably the most critical of all elements for small business/first time creators. Studies have been done, and exist online, that show sloppy/degraded video can be tolerated as long as the sound is solid. The converse isn't true. Have a beautiful image but your sound is distorted, echoes or inconsistent? Nobody will watch. Invest in learning how to capture good sound and acquiring the tools to do so. Your customers will thank you!
Stay tuned for the next instalment in my blog series. I will discuss the sound equipment you need to do effective videos and the top tips on how to get started!
I love all these helpful video tips and will use them as I continue to work on my blog and small business.
Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's have the very best 2016!
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