If there was ever a time to be doing video marketing, it’s right now. As a significant number of people work from home, the expectations in terms of production quality could never be lower.
While the same considerations for creating any content should still be taken into account, including whether it’s relevant to your audience and within your expertise, you shouldn’t let working from home stop you from creating great video content.
Our Notes From Home series was part of an effort to continue producing videos while working from home. Now, we want to share the process we used with you so you can do the same.
1. Identify Your Content Needs
Like any other piece of marketing content, each video you produce should come with a purpose. Does it fill a gap in your marketing strategy or solve for your customers’ pain points? If the answer is yes, then it can be a worthwhile creation.
Your content and message should be perfectly aligned with the needs and interests of your audiences. While now is a good time to start making videos, don’t do it simply for the sake of doing it.
Once you have your content strategy in place, start scheduling the necessary interviews or drafting scripts. Your internal team can be a great resource as subject matter experts or video hosts.
For our Notes From Home series, each video was shot with a member of our team, but the format could easily be applied to external guests. After troubleshooting the process, we leveraged it to fill another content gap in our video strategy and shot several new client testimonials while working from home.
2. Get Your Tech Set Up
Recording interviews or hosted segments can easily be done as long as you and your subject have a computer (or phone) with a webcam.
The primary function of the video call is not to record what will be used in the final video, but really to provide direction to your subject. People generally feel more comfortable on camera when they’re talking to someone else, and asking them questions or providing feedback throughout the interview or recording will make sure you get the video down pat.
The video call recording is a back-up file. Instead, video recording takes place on the subject’s side through Quicktime (Mac users) or Camera (PC users). These tools provide a higher-quality recording than Zoom or similar tools can provide, and removes the risk of your subject cutting out due to network connectivity issues.
Instruct your subjects to create a new movie recording in Quicktime or Camera and start recording when the interview or session begins. Make sure they hit the record button! It’s always better to ask then to learn the hard way later that they didn’t.
Much like a real video shoot where SD cards can fail or batteries can die, not every recording is going to work, and we experienced this first-hand. Having the recording of your Zoom, Skype or other video call gives you a back-up file to leverage so that your entire video shoot is not lost.
Having your subject wear smaller, nondescript headphones such as AirPods is a great way to provide your subject ongoing feedback and direction without having your input get recorded on their file.
Once your shoot is finished, have your subject stop the recording and save it to their computer before uploading it to a shared folder or sending it to you directly.
3. Provide Art Direction
Now that we have established the technical aspect, it’s time to talk more about getting the highest-quality video you can while working remotely; That starts with art direction.
Just because you’re recording from webcams and phones, doesn’t mean you have to settle for a recording in a messy bedroom office. Coordinate with your subject ahead of time to plan out your recording space accordingly.
Assuming you’re not the subject of the video, your role as director is to instruct the subject to follow these tips — especially since you can’t be there in person.
Find a nice, quiet spot
The space you do a video interview in might not be the space you traditionally work from at home. Finding a nice space means transitioning to a well-lit area with a clean background.
Clean up the background
Straighten up the space behind the subject by cleaning out any clutter, dirty dishes or anything else you don’t want on camera. Keep an eye out for personally identifiable information, reflective surfaces or public spaces where people may cross in and out of frame.
Your video background doesn’t have to be a plain wall. Adding artwork, furniture or organizational branded elements is a great way to add depth and character to your video. Obviously, every space is going to be different but adding as much character as possible can really boost production value in a remote setting.
Your subject’s camera (in most cases a webcam) should be situated on a level surface. For the most flattering image, elevate the camera slightly above eye level and tilted down. This can be done with a laptop stand or a stack of books in a pinch.
For most videos, you want to ensure that the subject is captured from the shoulder’s up and has adequate headroom. Leaving too much space above your subject to the ceiling can make them appear small, while too little can leave their head cropped off if they shift around in their seat.
The trickiest part of at-home video production is lighting. Most apartments and homes aren’t built with video shoots in mind and overhead lighting can cast unpleasant shadows on your subject’s face.
That said, natural light, such as a window, is always preferable. Placing your subject’s camera between them and a primary or key light source is ideal. You want to avoid scenarios where your key light source is behind the subject as it can create a silhouette effect.
When windows or natural light aren’t an option, a lamp placed to a 45-degree angle between the subject and the camera is also great. For the best lighting set-ups, refer to the diagram below.
4. Support Your Talent
There’s no doubt that talking to your computer screen can feel a little strange, even if it’s a Zoom call. Your video talent can find it difficult to wrap their heads around the idea of shooting a video for their business in the comfort of their own homes.
The key to producing quality videos while working from home is not just having a strong message, but also making sure your talent looks and feels comfortable on camera. With that in mind, here are a number of ways you can help your subjects feel more at ease during the recording process:
- Practice ahead of time: Practicing your script or running through interview questions in advance with your interviewee will help them feel more comfortable and natural once on camera.
- Have them dress comfortably: You should make the video shoot feel like any other day of work. That means have your subject dress in something that is professional and comfortable.
- Eliminate distractions: Have everyone put their phone on silent, shut the doors in their personal spaces and try not to multi-task. The more everyone focuses on the video and not what’s going on around them, the better.
- Get into the zone: Don’t psych them out! Have your subject do whatever relaxes them in advance of the shoot, keep things casual and remind your subject that not everything has to be done in one take.
- Treat it like a conversation: While having a script or questions is helpful, treating the video like a conversation will help your subject feel more comfortable and appear more natural.
You may feel as though the constraints of remote video production may be detrimental to your content’s quality or value but consider the alternative. Would you rather start or continue to produce content that is relevant to your audience or do nothing at all?
The ability to produce video while working from home is a great tool to leverage to boost your video marketing efforts without the expectations of perfection or high production quality. Videos present an excellent opportunity to add a human element to your marketing and put faces to your brand.
To get yourself set-up for an at-home video shoot, take a look at our Remote Video Production Checklist:
Chris is a Brand Marketer at New Breed where he is responsible for crafting design and video assets that support our brand. When he's not behind the camera, he enjoys kayaking and tending to his sourdough starter.