Lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of a finished professional video, so make it one of your top priorities during filming. If you don’t use enough properly-placed light, your video will probably look amateurish, even if it’s great in every other way. The sun is one of the best light sources for video. If you’re filming in natural light, do your best to get your footage in the morning or evening, when the light is softer. Midday light coming from straight overhead can cast harsh shadows on your subjects, while morning and evening light is more flattering. If you do have to film in the middle of the day, try to do so on a cloudy day, or find a shady area for softer light.
Do your best to get your footage in the morning or evening, when the light is softer.
If you’re filming indoors, you will need to be more intentional about the types of lights you use and where you place them. One thing to avoid is overhead lighting – it can cast unflattering shadows on your subjects’ faces. Windows are a good natural light source. You can also use a large lamp or two to cast the type of light you want. Before you set up your light sources, consider the effect you want to create in your finished video. Do you want your subject’s face entirely lit up (“soft” or “flat” light), or do you want some shadows (“hard” light)? Using lots of shadow looks dramatic, and it can be distracting in professional videos where drama isn’t the intended effect. Using little or no shadow creates a more open and straightforward vibe, which is usually better for business and marketing videos. If you want to use flat light in your video, balance two light sources on either side of the camera. You can place them either behind the camera or just in front of it. Here’s one example from Wistia of how you can achieve this setup. Wistia’s filming setup. The two symmetrically-placed light sources create a balanced effect with no shadows. Source: Wistia If you want your subject to have a bit more shadow and depth, you can try using the “lighting triangle” to achieve it. Using a single light source creates more shadows in your video. Source
Be deliberate about the background you use for filming. Nothing looks less professional than a messy or distracting background. One easy way to get a professional look for your video is to use a solid-colored background. A wall, a bedsheet, or a large sheet of backdrop paper are all good options. Make sure your subject stands several feet away from the backdrop to avoid casting shadows on it. It’s also a good idea to shoot a video in a “professional” environment: the place where you actually work or spend time. For instance, Amy Landino, makes her professional videos in her home office. Make sure to check out this video for both a great example of a filming set and some great tips on how to actually set up a home office. Be careful not to film with a window or another reflective surface in the background of your shot. You could inadvertently catch the camera in the reflection. Besides that, having a light source like a window behind your subject can make the subject look dark and shadowy.
Good video editing software can help you turn your raw footage into something great. There are some simpler tools like Wave.video, Camtasia or iMovie. More professional options include Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. Here are the key features to pay attention to when choosing a video editor:
Trying out different effects can be fun during the video editing process, but don’t go too crazy. A simple, clean editing style generally looks most professional. A few things you should be sure to do during the editing stage include:
Your audio quality is actually more important than your professional video quality. Most people are willing to watch a video that’s not shot in HD or that’s even a little grainy, as long as everything else about it is good. But fuzzy, indistinct audio is usually enough to make anybody hit the “back” button within a few seconds of starting to play a video. Because audio matters so much, a good microphone is the first piece of equipment you should invest in. Get the best one you can afford. For $100 to $200, you can get a microphone that performs well and will last a long time. There are also some decent options under $100 if you’re on a tight budget. Even a lav mic will do! Capture clear audio by putting your microphone as close to the subject as possible. You might want to use a pop filter to eliminate blips and crackles on the finished recording. Be aware of any background noise that your microphone might be picking up, too. It’s easy to tune out things like traffic, birds, and even the noise of the wind, but all of these sounds will be very obvious on your recording.
Shaky footage will make any professional video look like a home movie (and it can make your viewers feel seasick, to boot). It’s hard to hold a camera completely steady, so try not to hold your camera at all if you can help it. Instead, use a tripod, or set your camera on a sturdy surface. Once you’ve got your camera set up, try not to move it unless you have to. Panning around constantly detracts from the professional look of a video. Rather than moving the camera if you have to change perspective, it’s better to cut from one shot to another. If your footage turns out shaky despite your best efforts, video stabilization software can help to fix it afterwards. Some cameras also have built-in stabilization that you can use while you’re filming. Slowing down your footage can also help to make shakiness less obvious.
The rule of thirds is one of the most basic principles of film composition. Imagine that there’s a 3-by-3 grid laid over the field you’re filming. Instead of placing your subject right in the middle of the shot, you should place your subject along one of the lines of the grid. The points where the lines intersect are particularly strong areas of focus, so situate important elements of the video there, if you can. Visualizing a 3-by-3 grid over a shot. Source You don’t have to follow the rule of thirds all the time, but while you’re still learning, it’s a good idea to adhere to it as often as possible. As you gain experience, you’ll get a better instinct for when to stick with the rule and when to break it.
No DSLR camera? No problem. You can use your phone to capture professional video footage – the quality is just fine for most purposes. But there are a few things in mind if you’re going to use your phone for video creation.