10 Ways to Make Your Video Not Suck

As I’ve pointed out in previous blog posts, I know a few things about video production. Photography and videography are a passion of mine. So, listen up, please!

Just about any tutorial which explains”how” to make a movie is dead wrong. Crumple them up and throw them in the bin. Why? Because all those tutorials concentrate on the technical”how” rather than the conceptual”how”.

Here is the distinction: Shot List vs. Tools List. Most tutorials drone on and on about purchasing a lighting kit and what sort of mic to possess and YOU MUST HAVE A TRIPOD! It is all well intentioned, but it completely misses the point.

Which are the three most important things in real estate? Location, location, location. In video production, the three most important things are theory, theory, concept!

If your concept stinks, your movie will suck. I really don’t care what sort of camera you have! Thus, if your concept requires a fast-paced activity sequence, you might not even need a tripod. And if your concept requires a parody of reality TV, you won’t need a lighting kit. What if your idea requires an homage to silent TV? You won’t want that mike, will you?

The point is that not a single decision ought to be made regarding gear, locations, or celebrities till you’ve settled upon your concept AND written several drafts of your script. Clearly, the limitations of your situation will help dictate your concept to some extent. Side note: This is a fantastic thing. Being limited to what you have lying around or can safely manage consistently brings out your creative best!

So, here are the ten ways to make certain that your video doesn’t suck that aren’t focused on non-essential details such as gear.

  1. Determine your audience. Who’s supposed to be watching this movie? This can be tricky to determine. Let us take the case of a bowling alley. Do you wish to concentrate on experienced bowlers or the occasional bowler? Knowing who you are speaking to influences how you present your service or product. If unsure, be exact and create individual videos for different audiences.
  2. Sell the benefits, not the features. This is marketing 101. Don’t concentrate on the optical zoom quantity of that digital camera you are promoting, but rather focus on what the zoom will get you. Namely, a tight shot of your child’s smile as they take their degree. ALWAYS believe in terms of benefits.
  3. Show me, do not tell me. Do not create an illustrated lecture. A moving picture version of a PowerPoint will not sell anything except coffee. Nobody enjoys a PowerPoint. Do not make one in movie. Example: Do not tell me that the optical zoom will get me a excellent shot of my child at graduation when showing me a photo of the camera on a white background. Show me getting that perfect picture at a graduation! So far as concept is concerned, this is the difference between having a talking head (think news anchor) simply telling me about the zoom versus seeing it in action. This is an important distinction.
  4. Match the tone of your video into the tone of the goods. Selling something zany? Create a zany video. Selling something serious? Make a more significant video.
  5. A parody of a popular genre provides a common ground for you and the viewer. As soon as you’ve established the genre (for example, historical documentary), you may use the conventions of the style without needing to explain yourself. You can cut away to an interviewee in period costume and the audience will immediately understand what’s happened. Or you could do a humorous reenactment with the footage heavily slowed down or altered to black & white and the audience will find the joke.
  6. Do not take yourself or your product too badly. Humor goes a long way in establishing trust with the audience. If you can poke a little fun at yourself, the audience will reward you with their attention and possibly a sale. That being said, always stay away from making fun of the merchandise itself. Bear in mind, comedy is catchy and very tough to pull off especially with amateur actors. If you are going to do something funny, be certain it does not hinge on the delivery of a line in a given way. Avoid lengthy scenes or skits and try to go with”punchy” jokes before you create a style that works.
  7. Begin the video strong. Do or say something attention-grabbing. DO NOT direct with your jingle, emblem, or some other promotional crap. It’s boring. And I really don’t care who made the movie. Show me that things at the end when you have (hopefully) made the viewer curious enough to find out where to buy it.
  8. Start simple. Concentrate on the one most important thing your product or service does better than somebody else. Once that’s been made apparent to the viewer, it is possible to explain the other benefits later in the movie.
  9. Do not hide the monster. This is not a horror movie. You should not wait until the next act to show what it is that you are selling. Prove it as soon as possible. Do not waste the first 45 seconds with your very best effort at an SNL skit (remember, these men bomb constantly and they write comedy for a living!) .
  10. Do not exaggerate or make unverifiable claims. This is just another Marketing 101 item, but it is vital. “BowlZone is the Midwest’s Best Bowling Alley!” How do you define best? It is a useless claim and they are everywhere in advertisements. Do not do it. Focus on what makes your product or service different from the competition and make it clear in the first five minutes of your video.