storytelling technique — October 29, 2013 at 12:17 am

5 Ways To Improve Your Videos Right Now


david intrator brand storytellingWith just a little of bit of effort you can improve your videos dramatically.

Here’s how:

It’s all about the script.

With all the amazing technologies available to filmmakers today, it’s easy to overlook the most important element of all: the script.

Before you begin, abandon the idea that your making a video. Rather, conceive of what you’re doing as telling a story, one you just happen to be telling in words and pictures.

With this in mind, spend time and energy on your script. Write it and re-write it. It might not be the sexiest part of the process, but it’s the most important, and the investment will pay off.

As you’re writing, ask the following: Is your story based on a single idea? Can that idea be reduced to a sentence? A title? Could you explain it to a 9 year-old?

Does your story have a discernible structure? A beginning a middle and end? Does it move forward? Is there a climax? Does it resolve?

And most important: Are all the elements of the script supporting the main idea? What can be cut out?

Cast a wide net.

If your video involves people, whether actors or just regular folks, casting is key. Assuming you’ve got a strong script, add to that a strong cast and you’re 99% of the way to a great video.

So spend the time or money to make sure you’ve got the right people in front of the camera. If you’re creating a corporate video, see if you can interview a number of candidates to represent the company, and select the one who is most comfortable, natural and likable.

(Granted: at times you just have to work with the person you have, who might be particularly shy or uncomfortable. Here is where you personal directing skills come in. This is a huge topic and we’ll have more about that in another post.)

The key here is that, above all, people are interested in other people. Providing your viewers with people they want to engage with is a surefire way to improve your videos instantly.

Learn basic photography.

Becoming a great photographer or cinematographer is a lifetime of work. But with some practice, in a couple of months you can learn enough skills to improve your videos not only in terms of how they look, but also in how the imagery supports your story.

There are resources all over the web to help introduce you to basic lighting and compositional concepts. While you’re at it, take note of what you like in particular movies and photos. Deconstruct these images to figure out how the photographer got the look that you like.

If it’s an interview, for example, where did the photographer place the subject? Where is the main light coming from? Is the background sharply in focus or “soft”? What kind of feeling is this style of photography giving you?

As your skills improve, you’ll be able to learn from what others have done and then choose the right photographic techniques to support the story you’re telling.

Don’t forget about audio.

One of the surest ways to guarantee a sub-standard video is to have bad audio.

Audio quality might, in fact, be more important than video quality when it comes to the overall impact of your project.

Somehow even less than perfect imagery is acceptable when the audio is clean, robust and properly mixed. Place great imagery against poor audio, however, and the overall quality perception drops dramatically. Browse around YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

So invest in a decent boom and/or lavalier mic set-up, or better yet, hire a dedicated audio person. At the very least buy a top-quality shotgun mic, which is useful if you’re able to get close enough to your subject. Remember: the mic built in to your camera is garbage. Do not use it, except at times when you want an extra audio track for syncing your higher quality tracks.

Kill the little darlings.

Writing is re-writing. Filmmaking is writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing.

Editing is the complement to the script-writing process we discussed up top. The edit suite is where your make sure that all your filmic elements work together logically and coherently, each helping to unify your story and move it forward.

As with your script development, the key is to cut out anything and everything that does not support the central story idea. This isn’t easy, because over the course of your production you’ll end up with a great deal of material that you just love.

You’ll just have to learn to part with those “little darlings.” If it makes you feel any better, remind yourself that you can use them in an alternate cut of your video, or a new film altogether.

Doing one or all of these will improve your videos dramatically.

Employing any one of the 5 recommendations above is a great way to improve you videos immediately.

Employ all five and the difference will be night and day.

Happy storytelling.

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