[originally posted 2/1/11 - updated edit of content 9/23/12]
If you are investigating how to expand your online presence in effective ways, then you should consider video. A recent ActiveRain video contest got a lot of people thinking about this medium and also diving in with their first attempts. Great! Now that you have done so, it probably opened up a whole new set of technical questions...
and you know those are the kinds of questions that brings you to Craig's Classroom! :)
You don't have to dive into video with a gigantic investment. Cameras are now reasonably priced. And what about software requirements? Although it is possible to upload directly from your camera to YouTube, you are going to have a lot more control and produce a better presentation if you spend even just a little time with video editing software. If you are on a Windows PC, a good place to start is Windows Movie Maker. (If you are on a Mac, take a look at iMovie.) Windows Movie Maker is a free app and gives you a good toolset to work from. Once you become a little more adept, you will recognize the limitations of this software and will want to make a small investment in a better video editing app. For under $50 you can have a very capable application. I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio for my video editing projects. It is a very capable editor but has a little steeper learning curve. In my online video class (see bottom of this post), we demonstrate in our training videos how to use all three apps Windows Movie Maker, Sony Vegas Movie Studio and iMovie for Mac.
Let's go over some of the basics that regardless of the software that you use, there are some basic concepts that you will need to think about that will enhance your video presentations.
Clips are the building blocks that you compose your video production from. You will upload your video clips from your video camera to your computer. Clips will often be edited to take out the parts that you don't want to use (can you say bloopers and outtakes?). Also video needs to be trimmed down quite a bit so your finished product does not go on and on and on. Attention span of your audience is not that long. You need to make your point and do it in an interesting way. Clips can also be composed from still photos that you have taken. You can very effectively add stills into your videos to create a more rounded presentation. I'll show you how to do this.
Animations are what put a little dynamic action into a still photo. For instance if you zoom in or pan over a period of a few seconds, you can make a still photo come to life in an interesting way.
Transitions are the "in-betweens" of moving from one clip to another. A straight cut is one way to do it when you have a next scene that is very much a continuation of the last. However, if the next scene is a total shift, it is usually good to transition to it with something as simple as a dissolve transition. This is over a very short span of time where one scene fades out while the next fades in. Transitions can also be what are called "wipes" where you actually see a line pass over the old scene as the new scene comes in. It can be horizontal or diagonal or even in various shapes (circles, squares, hearts, etc). Transitions can also have some animation effect such as a "page turn".
Once you get into editing your own videos, you'll be paying much more attention to the videos that you watch. Watch a documentary on TV for example and see how they handle transitions. Watch a movie, are they doing "hearts" or "page turns"? nope! Does that tell you something if the professionals do not use these types of effects?
You have control of your audio in your video production. Unless you have a lapel mic, you will want to consider doing a voice-over track in the post-production phase. The lack of quality of your audio is one quick way to turn off a person viewing your work. Your editing software will allow you to merge the audio track into your finished video. Also, you will be able to add a music track as that is one key way to add more interest into a video.
Video software will also let you add titles into your production. At the very start of your video you should introduce your topic with a short clip where your topic is shown as title text. You can use a simple light text on dark background (or dark on light) and you can also do some other variations which I'll talk about. Titles can also be used in the middle of your video if you want a short visual break between subtopics.
Captions are useful to add to your clips. This is text that you overlay onto your video that corresponds to the audio track. If you were doing a community tour on video for example, you could label each of the landmarks by caption text as you go from scene to scene. It makes a deeper impression on the mind to hear and see something that may be new to the listener.
Credits are what video editing app calls what you put at the end. We'll call it "branding reinforcement" and "call to action". Don't leave your viewer without a "what comes next" answer. However, one caveat, just keep in mind how your video is to be used. If your video is to be incorporated into your IDX 'virtual tour' your MLS is going to require that specific name and/or branding is left OFF.
Well there you have an introduction to some basic concepts universal in video presentations and video editing.
If you are ready to get serious about using video in your marketing plan, consider coming to my premium online class called "Video Essentials for Business." That link will take you to the page to tell you more about the class. The class is a set of pre-recorded training videos to teach you what you will need to know to produce quality videos for your YouTube channel. I hope to see you in class! :)
To read more posts about video editing, check out my list of posts in this video series