Five Tips for Shooting Outdoors

Now that the weather’s warming up, why not film some of your next video outside? Indeed, some of the best online videos are created right in your own backyard, on the streets of a city, or in a park. Basically, anywhere the lighting is good and the ambience is interesting.

We’ve put together a list of useful tips for using these factors to your advantage. Use them to get the most out of your outdoor filming efforts! Keep reading to get the tips.

1. Use the sun as a backlight.

By placing your subject between you and the sun, you can achieve a backlit or “halo” effect that emphasizes the outline of your subject. This can be a desirable effect for romantic or emotionally charged scenes. As a bonus, the subject doesn’t have to squint into the sun.

This technique works best when the sun is at a 45 degree angle. If it’s too low, you risk getting lens flare, so try this after midday. Find out more about how lighting works for video in our recent post.

2. Use the “golden hours” of daylight.

Another option, depending on the look and feel you’re going for, is to film when the sun is low in the sky. Roughly an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, the sunlight turns golden.

This magical time is referred to as the “golden hour” because nearly everyone and everything looks better in this lighting. Filming with the sun at your back will give your subject a rosy glow.

3. Use a wide aperture.

By manually selecting a wide aperture and zooming in on your subject, you’ll be able to blur the background and sharpen the image of your subject. This is a nice way to visually create ambience without distracting from the subject.

This is particularly important outdoors because it will help minimize the impact of any unwanted movement in the background. By limiting visual distractions, you’ll keep the focus on your subject.

4. Use a microphone.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but outside environments tend to have ambient noise. This can negatively impact the sound quality of your recording.

To solve this problem, use a clip mic or a boom mic—both of which you can place close to the person speaking—to make sure the focal sound is the speaker, not the background. You can find out more about getting the best sound in your video in our recent blog post on the topic.

5. Use filters.

Most cameras these days come with a variety of filters that will eliminate the slight annoyances of outdoor filming that can be distracting, like reflections and glare. A UV filter, for example, will reduce glare, while a polarizing filter will reduce reflections from water and windows.

Read your manual to find out what filters your camera has, and use them! If your camera didn’t come with any, don’t fret. You can often fake this in post production, or buy specialty filters for your camera.

6. Avoid autofocus.

Shooting outdoors often means that there will be several objects in your depth of field, such as buildings, trees, etc. This can confuse the autofocus.

If you’re not careful you’ll end up with footage that keeps focusing on the trees behind your subject, and blurring your subject. Always try to use the manual focus when you’re shooting outdoors to keep this from happening.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? We’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave them in comments below, or give us a shout via Twitter



How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost

I can not tell you how many times I’m asked that question either casually with friends or more often from prospective clients and my answer is usually a very tongue and check, “Well, you can probably find somebody on Craigslist for about $300 or you can go to an ad agency, staff A-List talent and make a Super Bowl Ad for $20,000,000. Right now you are coming in somewhere in that range.” I'm seeing clients demand for video increasing but they don't always understand what they are purchasing as a creative buyer. 

There used to be a rule of thumb that a video cost $1000 for every finished minute. We always thought that was pretty funny because a :30 spot should then cost $500. That's nonsense! The fact is, the content duration has very little to do with price. Production value is where the overall price of production is determined. 

So let’s look at a few pieces and production workflows that can help educate a buyer in the market for content on how far money goes on video content and who to reach out to. I’m basing this off of what I see in the San Francisco Bay Area’s market where the demand for video production is around Branded Content for the web as well as commercials.

Let’s assume a media buyer was looking for a video selling a Ford Mustang as we take a look at these three tiers of video production:

The Videographer

Budgets $500 — $5000

Typical work : Event Coverage, start-up videos, corporate interviews, how-to-pieces

Typically this is a lone solider who wears a lot of hats. New and clever names are emerging to describe this type of video maker such as Preditor (Producer/Editor) or Shreditor (Shoot/Editor). Like the previous names suggest they are often a one-man-band where they shoot and edit. We are seeing more and more competition in this space. The only barrier for entry in to the industry of video production is to have access to a camera and a computer. Some people like the control of doing all parts of a production and as their workload increases they get better cameras and computers but stick with this workflow because it works for them.


The Production Company

Budgets $3000 to $250,000

Typical Work : branded content, local commercials, internal videos, corporate pieces, university outreach, local broadcast spots, ad agencies

In this tier of production you are going to get a group of collaborators who start to specialize in different aspects of production who have likely built a book of regular clients. There will often be a director or producer who has the relationship with the client as they carry a project through from start to finish. In a small to mid-sized production company you’ll see people wearing multiple hats but when the workload increases individuals stick to their strength and delegate the responsibilities. Oftentimes a production company has many relationships with outside vendors and specialists such as: talent agencies, gaffers/grip houses and special equipment operators who they might collaborate with. Most production company's have a physical location with a couple editing bays and serve as a post-house and many of their employees are editors. A majority of production houses will also have a studio space for filming. We are seeing some higher-end production companies representing a roster of talent with whom they may pull from to pitch toward clients on upcoming projects.


The Ad Agency

Budgets $50,000 — Unlimited?

I lightheartedly began the article about the Super Bowl commercial being astronomically expensive. Well, I wasn’t joking. I’ve worked on one before and let me tell you, they have very, very big budgets. The ad agency is the right direction for many established brands that need to focus on campaigns across different platforms of advertising where video (commercials) is just one of those channels. What a client should expect from an ad agency is a polished campaign and wide reaching placement of advertisements. Oftentimes an ad agency wins big accounts because of their creative track record, think Don Draper pitching copy in Mad Men.

While an agency might have an in-house video production team for smaller jobs they often outsource the bigger jobs to a production company. As budgets increase one should expect the look and feel of a Hollywood film. There will often be concept and narrative to a piece. The crew that shows up to shoot a high end commercial is going to be very departmentalized - much like when you sit through the credits of a feature film and you read job titles like "Script Supervisor" and "Best Boy" and wonder what all of those people do on a project.

Video SEO Tips to Send Your Content to the Top

Video is the most consumed digital media... and that's both a blessing and a curse. New possibilities for video content are only starting to be tapped but the sheer glut can be overwhelming to people. If you’re trying to stand out from the rest of your competition, your videos need to be at the top of search engine results pages. After all, if nobody can find your content, then you certainly won’t experience any conversions. That's why optimizing for search engines is so critical to success.

Although you may know some video SEO basics like using keywords and optimizing the title tag, here are some powerful tips to maximize your video's visibility in search results: 

Optimize the Content

No matter how good you are at SEO, this is only part of the equation. If people are not watching your content, then you're missing the point. Video content and SEO work together to give your brand more visibility.

To optimize your content, make sure it is “shareable” and “linkable.” Provide relevant and informative content that gives people a reason to share and encourages publishers to link to it. Your video must be high-quality, engaging, and valuable to the viewer to get the most growth.

Feel free to reach out to thought leaders and organizations people that may find your content interesting, or even to use your network to promote it accordingly. Even paid promotion may be useful, if you think that this can contribute to your goals.

Create Interactive Content

How about adding the necessary interactive elements to your videos to activate the viewers? Whether it’s the actual content, an annotation, or the caption, there are many ways that you can “gamify” a video to make it more interactive and engaging, helping grab the viewers’ attention.

You can even split the video into shorter clips, allowing your viewers to pick which one they prefer to watch, a strategy which has been implemented in many successful campaigns.

Repurpose the Content

Never look at a video as a "one-off" - it doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are so many ways to extend the lifespan and reach of every video you produce. For example, you may create a 10-minute video offering tips about web marketing. Instead of simply promoting the particular page its on, upload a preview of this video to your social media sites, leading your audience to your site for more details.

Beyond that, you can create an infographic, a slideshow, or shorter videos like pre-rolls, all leading to your web site. By leveraging your content in multiple ways, you can reach a wider audience and help them discover your page in an interesting and persuasive way.

Focus on Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization is no longer just a part of video SEO; it's the central focus. Two years ago, mobile video viewing surpassed desktop viewing, and the gap only continues to widen. Although desktop video remains a key aspect of driving traffic, your video SEO campaign will die without mobile optimization.

  With over half of all digital video being viewed on mobile devices, optimizing your native video for mobile consumption will maximize traffic and search engine rankings.

With over half of all digital video being viewed on mobile devices, optimizing your native video for mobile consumption will maximize traffic and search engine rankings.

When optimizing videos for mobile devices, make sure your website and video player are both responsive to mobile viewing. Many hosting services automatically offer mobile optimization for all your content. YouTube, Vimeo and similar platforms that are automatically optimized for mobile viewing.

Pick the Right Thumbnail

A video’s thumbnail is one of the first things viewers notice and it can affect their decision to actually click on the video. Make sure your thumbnail is eye-catching and relevant to the content of the video. An engaging thumbnail is one that leaves people wanting to know more about the video.

Some qualities that make an effective thumbnail include images that are colorful, well composed, tells a story, are branded and don't look like "click-bait." A watermark or logo on your thumbnail also shows potential viewers that this is a professional video providing quality content.

Upload to Multiple Platforms

Do not resort to only self-hosting your videos. This is problematic for several reasons. If done properly, self-hosting can help with your website’s SEO, so including a video on your landing page is also highly effective in increasing conversions.

  The more places you upload your video, the more times Google will recognize it and the more chances users will have to find it.

The more places you upload your video, the more times Google will recognize it and the more chances users will have to find it.

YouTube is the key to getting your videos to rank so, at a minimum, all your videos should be uploaded there. Maximize your exposure and improve your rankings by uploading or posting a link to your videos on all your social networks. Other video hosting platforms like Vimeo and Dailymotion can also give your video more opportunity to grow.

Add Captions

Because Google is a text database, it can read closed captions and capture more information about the video itself. And the more text you can attach to your video, the more recognition you will earn from search engines. 

  The time and effort spent on closed captioning will prove to be well worth the boost in SEO performance.

The time and effort spent on closed captioning will prove to be well worth the boost in SEO performance.

You may even consider scripting your videos with keywords so they will be optimized for search engines. Here are some SEO tips for YouTube videos that will help your video projects rank higher with any Google search.

Add Calls to Action   

Part of interactive content is having a call to action at the end of your video. Calls to action should prompt viewers to do something, such as visit a website, where they are exposed to a product, service or content that's designed to turn them into customers.  

Calls to action don't have to be a simple “Call us or email for more information." While that may work for some people, it's usually too generic. Consider being a little more creative with your approach:

Ask a Question – Then invite viewers to “join the conversation” with your brand’s social channels or a dedicated hashtag.

Enter to Win – A structured giveaway on a dedicated landing page of your website or on a social media site is an easy way to generate response and interaction with your brand.

Bring out the Vote! – Ask viewers to vote on something they care about in a simple poll on your website.

Sign up for a Webinar – If you give webinars to highlight elements of your product or service, asking a viewer to sign up for the next webinar is a great call to action to include at the end of your video.

Watch another Video – After the viewer watches your short overview video, invite them to take a deeper dive with more focused snackable content about your product or service. 



Why Content is King

When it comes to marketing, content is king. The days of creating strategies based only on the brand without giving thought to what's actually in the news release, commercial or web video are long gone. Audiences want something engaging, not a recitation of a company's brand image.

Original content -- including commercials, case studies, viral videos and photos -- enhance a brand's visibility, and put the company's subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire, an internet marketing software company did a survey that found 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. 

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they're focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

The survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

Are you using content marketing to enhance your brand?