9 Essential Video Production Techniques All Marketers Need to Know

With today’s mobile technology, we all feel empowered to create, publish, and distribute – but are your production values letting you down?

Social media platforms offer exponential possibilities for digital marketing teams, with over a billion YouTube users watching over 500 million hours of video every single day. 

But with almost 90% of all online marketers using video content to sell their wares, digital distribution has become a crowded environment. To cut through the noise, you need to optimise the quality of your video; or fall by the wayside. 

We’re going to explore the nine essential video production techniques that all marketers need to know. Our video shooting tips and tricks are filming techniques that beginners, intermediates and BAFTA-nominated directors swear by. 

We’re going to explore:

  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Script
  • Performance
  • Shooting tips and tricks
  • B-Roll Footage
  • The value of post production
  • The Snap Cut
  • The Soundtrack

1. Emphasis on Light

Lighting can make or break the aesthetic of your video production. Poorly selected locations, ugly fluorescents, and unfortunate choice of patterned clothing can damage your video to breaking point. 

Sure, you can address some lighting issues in the edit, but for the highest possible quality, you should aim to start with premium footage. The purpose of lighting in film is to facilitate maximum capture quality.

Modern cameras are particularly adept at automatically optimising your image in a variety of lighting conditions. 

You could just point and shoot. And you’d probably end up with OK footage. 

But there are some lighting conditions that a point and shoot approach just won’t accommodate. 

Artificial lighting can be harsh and unforgiving, although well-placed and controlled video lighting can help to fill out dark spots. But the best (and cheapest advice) we could offer is to make as much use of natural light as you possibly can. 

Use reflectors to lift dark regions and place your subject so that they’re facing a lighting source. Light your subject; not the background, and avoid silhouetting by filming against a darker backdrop.

Low light creates grainy footage, regardless of the quality of the camera. So take heed of these simple lighting tips, and you’ll get the maximum quality out of your equipment.

Get on top of video production lighting techniques and optimise your output.  

2. Wired For Sound

Bad sound quality is probably the most common fault with DIY video footage. There’s no room for poorly recorded sound in professional film making. 

Even if you’re shooting your footage with pro-video kit, we’d still recommend that you record your sound separately and synchronise it with the footage in the edit. 

Alternatively, use clip mics connected directly (or remotely) to your camera to ensure high-quality audio that accompanies high-resolution clips. 

3. Get Scripted

There are occasions where you might consider delivering to camera off-the-cuff, but does it promote your brand in the most flattering light?

Few public speakers would dare turn up to the podium without at least a bullet-point plan of what they’re going to say, and you should treat your video content with the same gravity. 

video production techniques

When presenting directly to camera, have a plan, if not a word-for-word script. It’s the best way to ensure that your message is delivered accurately, professionally, and on-note is to prepare.  

However, reading from a script can feel unemotional and stuffy. If you’re looking for genuine, emotive performances, sometimes it’s better to freeform it from bullet points and Jump-Cut in the edit (see later).

4. Storyboard, Rehearse and Perform

Have a plan determining the types of shots you want. Storyboarding can help create a deliverable message that you can pitch to your peers, and it gives you a good idea of the type of footage you’re looking for. 

You should rehearse each shot. You might get to your location and discover obstacles that you hadn’t counted on. Or perhaps the lighting isn’t right. Rehearsing each shot is a video filming technique that helps you to master unexpected turns, steps, and barriers to ensure that you get the best possible footage. 

A rehearsed performance is a polished performance, projecting a professional sheen for your brand message

5. Shooting Tips and Tricks

Consider the composition of each shot. If you have a fixed camera angle and a stationary presenter, placing them in the middle of the shot doesn’t always give you the most attractive aesthetic. 

The rule of thirds is a concept that helps you create more interestingly composed set-pieces by making more effective use of the aspect ratio of your available on-screen real estate (excuse the Americanism).

Most mobile phone cameras have a “grid” setting that overlays four lines (two horizontal, two vertical) across the screen. Those lines are your “power lines” – subjects placed along any of those lines makes for a well-composed image. 

The intersections between the lines are known as “power-points”; it’s where the eye naturally gravitates. 

If you place your presenter along your vertical power-line, with their face at the power-point, you’ll have a well-composed shot. 

If you have a static camera and a presenter walking into shot, then you could consider crossing the screen in a diagonal path from one power-point to another, with the final shot of the presenter resting across a power-line. 

This requires some well-controlled manual focus; auto-focus may lose the subject. 

And finally, probably the most important tip of all: don’t cut too soon. When you’ve got your shot, leave the camera rolling for another couple of seconds. Cutting too soon creates all sorts of problems in the edit. 

6. Have Back-Up Shots (B-Roll)

B-roll clips are complementary footage that adds additional visual interest on top of your primary subject. When shooting an interview, you may choose a mid-shot of your interview subject, speaking directly to (or just off) camera.

It’s good to grab as much B-roll footage as you can during your shoot; it helps to break up the monotony of a single shot. 

Say, for example, you’re interviewing somebody about their favourite product. 

video production interview

You might shoot your subject speaking in your A-roll; but then shoot additional clips showing them using the product in a variety of settings for B-roll footage. 

Get close-ups of the product; maybe some locational context shots. When you’re shooting an interview, it’s useful to capture shots of hands on laps and feet – that type of thing. 

When you get to the edit, you’ll congratulate yourself for having the forethought of capturing B-roll. 

7. The Edit – The Value of Video Post Production Techniques

Of course, we’ve been talking about capturing the best possible footage before you get into the edit suite.

But:

There are always going to sections of your footage that let you down; it’s just how it goes.

Perhaps your interview subject twitched while they were speaking; maybe the natural lighting dropped.

Never fear: for you have B-roll.

The edit is the opportunity to intersperse your A-footage with your B-roll to cover over the visual ticks and errors. 

Keep the audio from the A-roll going and intercut with your complimentary shots; it increases visual interest while allowing you to compensate for visual errors. 

8. Beat Tradition With The Jump-Cut

Great editing is invisible; the audience should not notice the cuts. 

Cuts should happen in rhythmic unison with your visual footage – if you notice a cut, then it’s usually a bad one.  

However, the Jump-Cut has become a staple of Vlogging, and it helps to maintain pace. 

Essentially, the jump-cut eradicates those “erms” and “umms”, slip-ups and repetitions that take place when we talk around a subject or stumble during the delivery of a script. You can learn to perfect the technique with L-Cuts and J-Cuts

To find out how to jump-cut, check out this video. 

9. Stay Smooth With Your Soundtrack

Consider selecting your musical soundtrack before you start your edit, using the beats of the music as the template to cut against. 

Music helps create an atmosphere, but you don’t want your presenter battling against inappropriate music. Look for music that complements the pace of delivery. 

Death metal, for example, is unlikely to fit happily alongside a yoga class, and ambient, spacey, meditative electronica might not suit a high-impact pitch. 

It sounds so obvious, but we so often see inappropriately chosen music, ruining the energy of a video, that we thought we really should mention it. 

When selecting music, make sure that you have permission to use it. There are plenty of royalty-free music libraries online to choose from. 

video production soundtrack

Conclusion

So, there you have it: our nine essential video production techniques that all marketers need to know. If you have questions or ideas you’d like to discuss, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.