By Paul Parcellin, Staff Writer
September 18, 2015

Imagine that you're a novice when it comes to shooting and editing videos. Your company decides that it needs some world-class audiovisual media on its website, and you're elected to get the job done. But you start shooting, and the results are underwhelming. All of the fancy, fast-paced stuff you thought you were getting looks like outtakes from a bad independent film.

Your heart sinks as you consider what your disappointed boss is going to say about your failed cinematic experiment.

Fortunately, all is not lost.

Believe it or not, you can help your firm reap the benefits of video-rich pages by producing professional-looking video on your smartphone. Just follow these helpful hints and give your projects some careful thought.

Video Improves Conversion Rate

It's no wonder that your firm is interested in creating videos. A study by EyeView says that pages with video convert up to 80% better than those without it. For many firms both small and large, video is more than a mere option - it's a must-have for those who want to see their business prospects increase.

On a Small Scale

If you want to shoot wide-screen epics on the scale of "Star Wars," you've come to the wrong place. Video that plays on the Web is usually presented in a small window. Not only will viewers see your work on their laptops and desktops, many will probably be watching smartphones and tablets.

The video you put up online will probably be compressed to keep files as small as possible. The more compressed the image, the harder it is to read. A video's image quality loses its crispness when it's highly compressed. Not only does it not look as sharp as uncompressed video, it displays less detail, such as color contrast.

Since the quality of your images is bound to decay, it's a good idea to keep your video as easy to read as possible. Try to avoid shooting video with any of these potential problem areas:

• Stripes and patterns
• Wide angle shots
• Excessive camera movement
• Movement of your subjects
• High-contrast lighting
• Bright white highlights

Wide shots usually don't read well when your video is presented in a smaller format. In addition, lots of detail and a lot of movement also make the image tough to read.

Shot Design

You probably went through a lot of trouble to design your website, so it's a good idea to put time into designing the video shots that you'll be posting on your site.

A good way to start is to pick up a pencil and make small sketches of the images you want to get on video.

If your video is going to tell a story you should probably write a script. Divide the page into two equal columns, the one on the right for shot descriptions and any dialogue you may use, and the other for storyboard drawings of the shots you want to get.

Consider what kind of impression you want to make with each shot. You may want to crop your shot into a square rather than a rectangle, for instance. Perhaps you'll want to make a close-up from a wide-angle shot. Most video editing apps have crop features that will allow you to choose how you frame your images.

Using Text

If you want to place text over your images, you should begin by planning where the words will be displayed. Your composition should include space for the text. Remember, in order to make it readable, text in a small-format video will take up more of the screen than it would for a video you'd watch on a larger screen, such as a TV.

Storage

Be sure to look at how much storage capacity you have before you start shooting. It can save you from running out of disc space in the middle of a shot. You can help ensure that there will be no disc space problems if you back up your videos with cloud storage. It will probably also make it easier to download the video you've shot to on computer, as well.

Choose Horizontal

Hold your phone horizontally when you shoot. It will probably make your images fit better on the screens where they're viewed, and your pictures will likely be clearer, as well.

Keep it Steady

Shaky camera work is to be avoided. You may find it hard to keep your hands steady for an entire shot, so it makes sense to purchase a tripod for your smartphone. If you must, you can place your phone on a flat surface while shooting to get rid of any jerky movements.

Sound

Once you've done everything you can to eliminate ambient noise - air conditioners, traffic sounds, radios and TVs playing in the background - choose an external microphone to use with your smartphone. It will improve the sound quality that you record and will likely be fairly inexpensive. Microphones designed for smartphones will plug into the headphone or USB jack.

1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

New Angles

Shoot your subject from more than one angle. Try recording a scene from a number of different perspectives, from overhead shots on a high perch to close-ups. Many video apps will allow you to stich together various shots, and that will make your final product a lot more visually interesting.

Post Script

You may be working on a tiny budget, but try to get someone to assist you with your most important shots. You probably can't afford to hire someone to hang around for the entire shoot, but maybe a friend can step in and offer a hand at critical times. It can be a lifesaver, even if your assistant just helps by preventing passersby from stepping into your shots.

And remember, shoot more than you really need. You can always cut out the excess. It may save you from the anxiety of not having some critical footage. After all, it's better to have too much than not enough.

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