How To Prepare for An Online Video Shoot

How To Prepare for An Online Video Shoot

Video has been the big story of 2013 so far. Maybe it was the introduction on Vine and Instagram Video, maybe it’s more people shooting snippets on their phones or maybe people are just finally embracing it.

If you want to shoot an online video for your business, whether it be a 6 second vine or a 3 minute YouTube promotional piece preparation is as, if not more important than the shoot itself.

I come from a film and television background having studied media, video production and finally television production in school and college. I then moved here to Ireland and worked in the Irish Film Industry as an Assistant Director for almost ten years. The role of an assistant director is all about planning so it’s clearly something I’ve had hammered into me.

Here’s my tips for making better videos by planning.

1. Story-boarding

You may have that brilliant idea in your head but you really need to plan it out on paper. It’s not good enough to just shoot one shot of you talking to camera, you need to break up your video into individual shots for example instead of you just talking to camera you might try something like this.

Shot 1. – You talking to camera

Shot 2. – Shot of you working with staff

Shot 3. – Shot of your computer screen

Shot 4. – Shot of you doing up your running shoes

Shot 5. – Shot of you going out for a run

Straight away these five shots tell as story. You are still saying the same thing but you are illustrating it by showing people that you get on well with your staff, that you work in an office at a computer and that you enjoy running.

Of course your shots should complement the content of your video. If you aren’t talking about fitness or what you like to do to chill out,  the shot of you going for a run would be irrelevant.

**Tip – Ideally you should plan one shot for every 10 seconds you intend the video to run but don’t worry you can use the same shot multiple times.**

Take some time to draw out your shots on a storyboard. (You can download blanks here).

You also need to decide the size of shot that you want to use and label them as such.

For example:

Shot 1 is a MS (mid shot) – head to waist of you talking to camera

Shot 2 is a WS (wide shot) – head to toe of you standing talking to your staff

Shot 3 is a CU or BCU (close up or big close up) – computer screen

Shot 4 is a CU of BGU of you doing up your running shoes

Shot 5 is a WS of you running down a road towards camera.

For a full explanation of shot sizes click here.

2. Location, Location, Location

Where are you going to shoot your video?  It’s important to consider a few things about your location:

  1. Is it lit well with natural light? If there are a lot of windows that allow natural light in it means that you won’t require lighting. This is not only a cost saver but a time saver too.
  2. Is it quiet? Shooting in a noisy location is a nightmare. Not only will the audience not be able to hear what is going on but there will be an inconsistency in the background noise when you cut. For example you may have the sound of a dishwasher in the back of part of the shot followed by the sound of a noisy fridge in the next.
  3. Will you be able to get the shots you need without too much clutter in the background? A very tidy or empty room is your best choice. You need to think about what will be in the background of your shot and move the room around accordingly. Is there something sitting on a shelf behind you that will distract the audiences attention?
  4. Is the location available for the full duration of your shoot plus a couple more hours in case you go over schedule?

3. Props

This is very important. Make a list of the props you will need for the shoot. Prepare as many of these as possible before hand and allocate an area within your shooting space for them. This ensures you can grab them quickly when required. Props could be as simple as a computer, your running shoes, a pop up banner with your logo on.

4. Equipment

Again it’s important to make a list and check off all the items to ensure you have them. The basics would be:

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Sound recording device (I use an iPhone)
  • Microphone
  • Lights
  • Bounce board (for lighting)

5. Wardrobe and makeup

Take some time to think about what you are going to wear. As a rule of thumb don’t wear anything too black, too white or with a intricate pattern.

Even the guys should think about wearing makeup, the camera can be very unforgiving and discover every blemish and shiny patch. Even a bit of powder will mean that viewers won’t be distracted by the shine from the end of your nose.

6. Script

I left this to last but not because it’s not important. Your shoot will run much smoother if you script what you are going to stay. In many cases it won’t matter if you don’t learn it word for word but if you have the script and rehearse it you are far less likely to fluff your lines on the day.

If you want to learn more about making online video get in touch. We can help you create your first online video and give you the knowledge to continue to make better quality video.

Find Inspiration For Your YouTube Videos With TubeRank - Cool Tool


The biggest challenge when making online videos is keeping them interesting.  How can we keep someone watching longer than a couple of seconds?  If you’ve been following my video tips recently and have been inspired to make your own this weeks cool tool TubeRank is for you.

TubeRank selects videos that have been successful on YouTube and will inspire you. You simply add in some parameters, creating a formula, and it pulls up a selection of videos that match them. Watching lots of videos is often where you learn the best techniques for making your own videos work. This tool just means you are watching the right videos to match your own needs.

Here’s how it works:

Visit the website

  • Choose the sort of ‘triggers’ that you would like to include in your video. Do you want it to be funny, topical, cute, educational etc?
  • You can move the sliders up and down to include none, some or loads of trigger moments.  I chose educational.
  • Now choose interests. Does the video you want to make fit into a particular category. I went for Internet culture.
  • The final metric is UGC (user generated content) or Branded. I went for ‘all’ here so as not to limit my choices.
  • Now TubeRank searches popular videos and provides a selection to inspire you.


The top choice was spot on ‘The Impact of Twitter on Journalism‘ followed by a variety of on topic inspiration.

Underneath each video that TubeRank offers are some headline statistics including views, comments, social shares etc but the app also offers more.  Click on ‘View Full Insight’ and you will be prompted to set up a ‘VAN’ account which gives you access to a TubeRank score for the formula you entered, viral benchmarking, tips, case studies and more.


Although this data is useful and has lots of downloads to help you create better videos I think the best thing about the site is finding inspiration.  It’s also convinced me that it’s possible to add some of the other triggers, humor for example, in to my video and still be on message.  I know I’ll be watching far more videos and hopefully creating better ones myself thanks to this tool.

Massive Hat Tip to Social Times for drawing my attention to this app.

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Quick Tip - Improve The Sound On Your Videos

Do you have a problem with the sound on your videos? Maybe you are so far away from the camera that it’s too quiet or there is a lot of background noise? Maybe like me you record on different devices for one video and the sound quality varies.  You could buy yourself a fancy microphone or you could try this simple solution using your smartphone. Here’s how:


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Quick Tip - Shooting Better Video - How To Avoid Silhouettes

Last week I reviewed the excellent book ‘How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck’ by Steve Stockman and it inspired this simple tip for shooting better video.  When we start out making online video we make lots of mistakes and this is one I see coming up over and over again.  If we are interviewing someone in an office it’s tempting to shoot them against a window but this is no easy task. Here’s what happens and why you should avoid it.

I’ll be sharing more tips on shooting better video over the coming months.

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Video Tips & Book Review - How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck - Review

When I was in school I always wanted to work in Television, there was something enchanting about that flickering screen in the corner of the room that I wanted to be part of.  I studied media studies in secondary school, in sixth form and finally went on to study Television and video production in college.  After a few years working on films and TV series I decided it wasn’t for me but my experience wasn’t wasted, I now produce videos at least once a week and help my clients create videos for themselves.  Knowing this you might think that this choice of book was a strange one but it can be very different trying to shoot video with a flipcam on a zero budget to working with a professional crew.

How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by film maker Steve Stockman is a step by step guide on creating your own videos, whether they are for use online, marketing you business or just for recording family events.  It’s easy to follow and if you work through it and experiment with all the tasks it sets, you will definitely be creating better videos in the end.  It starts with easy stuff and works it’s way up to full on video production so whatever your level of experience there is something here for you to read. Here’s some of the key tips.

Would your best friend willingly watch your video?

One of the first issues that the book addresses is whether people, even your friends, will want to watch your video and it’s a good point.  I’ve lost count of the number of times that someone has sat me down in front a computer and pressed play on their YouTube video.  You know it’s a bad video when even they can’t bare to watch it for longer than 30 seconds.  If people are going to invest time watching your video you owe it to them keep them interested, or as Steve puts it:

“When you release a video, you owe it to your audience to give them a good time.  To change their world.  To open their eyes.  To make them feel.  If you do, the fact that you had no money won’t matter.  And if you don’t all the money in the world won’t make any difference at all” (Kindle location 1928)

I was relieved to read that it wasn’t just me that looked at the length of web videos before clicking play, anything over 3 minutes means I’d be unlikely to watch and it seems I’m not alone.  If we can be persuaded to watch a video most of us make the decision if we are going to continue viewing after just a few seconds.  For this reason, when we are creating our own videos, we really need to capture the imagination of our audience straight away and hold it for the duration of the video. That is exactly what this book teaches us to do.

Tell a story

Whatever the subject matter of the video you are making tell a story, that doesn’t have to be a big love story or drama but find a way of putting shots together to better tell the narrative.  As Steve puts in in the book:

“Stripped down to it’s essentials, a story has four elements: A hero, a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The beginning of the story introduces us to the hero and what situation he’s in.  the middle tells what happens to the hero next.  The end is how it turns out” (Kindle location 667)

So the key steps are, decide who your hero is.  Is it your customer, the bride, the product?  What is going to happen to that hero? Are they going to have a good experience, get married, blend an iPhone? The best and most memorable videos always follow this form, this morning I was watching this video of David Beckham and it too conforms to that structure. The hero is David Beckham, he’s going to kick the ball into the bin, he succeeds and is happy (see below).

Deciding what your video is about and what story it tells will make it more compelling straight away.  There’s some great examples on how to plan your story in the book. Putting a plan like this in place before you shoot will really help you when you go to make the video.

Keep your shots short

This is a mistake I see made all the time with online video.  There are some vloggers that are compelling enough that when they sit in front of a camera and talk you are engaged right to the end but these are rare. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example (see below).  In the most part a static shot will loose the audiences attention pretty quickly so we need to cut.

“Cutting makes us pay attention.  Each cut to a new shot forces our brains to figure out what we’re looking at and what it means.  We’re more engaged in what we’re watching because we have to do a little work to understand it.  We’re more actively taking in information, participating in what video has to offer” (Kindle location 1656)

From time to time on my blog I conduct Skype interviews that are limited to a single split screen shot meaning that unless the content is hugely compelling no one is going to stick it out to the end.  Shooting a video face to face and adding screen shots, close ups, interviewer reaction shots will keep the viewers attention and allow you to cut out anything that isn’t moving the story forward.

In conclusion

There is a huge amount that budding videographers can learn from this book.  If you want to make videos for your business or even personally this is a quick and easy read full of practical tasks to help you improve.  Even those with more experience like myself can pick up some tips.  I know the way I think about and construct my videos is going to change as a result of it.

I read it on a Kindle and this isn’t really the ideal.  Reading the Kindle version on a tablet computer or a laptop would be more beneficial as you will be able to directly click the links to examples that Steve shares.  I’d also suggest setting aside some time to follow the practical tutorials before you start, you will get far more benefit if you are able to shoot video as you read.  Of course you can go back after reading and complete these tutorials but there is nothing like completing them as part of the reading experience.

If I’ve persuaded you click here to buy the Kindle version ( affiliate link) or here to buy the one made of paper ( affiliate link).

If you want to know more about how can help you create a video for your business get in touch.

As long term readers of my blog will know I’ve been videocasting for over 2 years now.  A recent look at my YouTube stats tells me that the majority of my viewers are Men between 40-60 based in the USA. Not exactly my target market but I know from customers and friends that there are enough people in Ireland watching them to still be of benefit to me.  I’ve also gained new customers and leads through my videocast and now when I go to a big networking event at least one person always recognises me from my videos, this makes it a lot easier to break the ice.

I was delighted to spot two Irish businesses videocasting in 2012.

Dee Sewell from Greensideup created her first video on her phone and edited on Windows Movie Maker, this proves that almost anyone can make a video, you no longer need fancy equipment now you can shoot and even edit on your phone.

And Peter from My Financial Window made his debut with this video.

So if you’re inspired to get video blogging in 2012 Here’s my tips for getting started on the right foot

Shoot Landscape

Always shoot video landscape, so that the frame resembles your TV screen.  There are so many devices you can shoot video on now that the traditional landscape frame seems to be abandoned by some. Portrait videos are appearing on my Facebook stream and although this is fine for personal posts for business we need to conform to the current norm.

Keep it short

The attention span of YouTube viewers is notoriously short so it’s important to keep your videos short and to the point. I try to keep mine under three minutes (but often fail).  If it’s longer you need to be able to keep it compelling throughout.  There is a fascinating matrix on your YouTube analytics that shows you ‘audience retention’ it allows you to see on average how long people watch your video for.


Think about the framing of your shots.  I found this handy guide to framing shots for all occasions. Although it refers to photography it is just as relevant for video.  If you are filming yourself make sure you are framed properly, that you have the top of your head in shot but not too much space above your head.  See the examples below.

If you want to include something else in the frame; a banner or something that symbolises your business make sure it’s fully visible in the shot. Check that it doesn’t look like something is growing out of your head or arm as this can prove distracting to your audience.

Start Small

If you’re not ready for a full length video yet try shooting some quick tips and uploading them to Tout.  I’ve just started using this for my weekly ‘Twitter Tip’. You can only post 15 second updates so it’s good practice at being concise.  You can shoot them straight from your phone and if editing is required it’s generally just to top and tail the shot.  I’ve been using iMovie for iPhone to edit and there are a number of Android apps that are just as good. VidTrim Pro gets good reviews.  If you are using a good Android app for video editing do let me know.

Look Directly At The Camera

The lens of the camera is your audience so it’s important to make eye contact with it.  Make sure you look directly down the barrel of the lens when addressing your audience.  Eye contact will help you hold your viewers attention the same way it would in real life.  When setting up your shot try and position your camera at eye level so that you are neither looking up or down at your audience.

Don’t be vein!

It can be one of the hardest things to see yourself on video and hear your own voice recorded.  Recording video on a regular basis will help you cure this. Record yourself every day for around a minute and play it back just to get used to the process.  Don’t obsess about the way you look.

Tony Blackburn smile

BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn once said that he always smiled when he talked on the radio and this smile would translate into his voice.  This is (obviously) even more relevant when making video.  You don’t need a Cheshire Cat style grin but a smile will help you connect with your audience in a way a frown never will.

Re Take

I think it took me around 30 takes to get my first video right. I manage it a lot quicker these days but as my Christmas gag reel will tell you it sometimes still takes me a good few goes to get it right.  Don’t worry if it takes you a long time to get it right, be strict with yourself, if you stumble over a word or get something wrong, start again!

Uploading to YouTube

I could write a whole blog post on optimising your videos for YouTube, but many people already have.  But here are the basics

Title – Give your video a strong and compelling title explaining exactly what it’s about.  ‘How To’ or ’10 ways to’ videos seem to get the best views for me but as long as the title is enticing people will be interested enough to click play.

Description – If you want viewers to visit your website make sure you add your web address (including the http://) into the description box.  Write a short synopsis of the video underneath this.

Tags – Use relevant tags to notify YouTube users what your video is about. The relevance is important as you want to attract users who are looking for your video. Attracting the wrong viewers will just result in viewer drop off early on in your video.

Are you video blogging? Do you have any tips I’ve left out?

For more tips on creating a videocast here’s my post ‘Getting Started With Videocasting’ from last year.

I’ve found videocasting a really useful way to share information and tips with my social media community. It  is easy for me to direct a customer to a video on how to do something if I get stuck and it also draws people into my website and Facebook page.  It is my belief that there are lots of businesses out there that can benefit from videocasting, if you are brave enough to sit in front of a camera it’s worth giving it a shot.

If I’ve managed to convince you and are itching to get started here are some tools for shooting and editing your video and some quick tips on how to prepare yourself for the camera.


You will need:

A webcam, camcorder, digital camera with video facility or a smart phone.

A microphone (for your computer).


Screencasting – Record what’s going on on your computer screen

Jing Pro – I find this really easy to use, you can record mute or with a voiceover and save both to your computer and to the cloud.  The pro version is a must as it gives you file formats that are compatible with most editing.  For only $14.95 a year it’s a bargin.

Camtasia – From Techsmith, the same company as Jing this is a more complete solution and this is reflected in the price. As well as screencasting it offers editing, visual effects and more.  If your serious about videocasting this has to be the tool for you. Still well priced at $99 dollars (for mac) and $299 (for windows) with a free 30 day trial.


There are plenty of free tools out there for editing.

iMovie – If you have a mac, an iPhone or a iPad.  iMovie is a really easy to use editing application.  We’ve not tried the mobile version yet but the full version allows you to add attractive captions, images, as well as music and voice-over.  It’s simple and user friendly.

Movie Maker – Those running windows can use Movie Maker, again it’s simple to use if a bit clunky compared to iMovie.

YouTube – You can edit your videos on YouTube.  It’s not quite as straightforward as iMovie or  Movie Maker but it means you can edit from any computer and you don’t need to worry about file types (YouTube is more forgiving of different file formats) or downloads.  I found this excellent tutorial on editing on YouTube:


YouTube – It’s essential you upload your videocasts to YouTube, it’s the king of online video sites and will almost guarantee a viewership.

TubeMogul – This application allows you to upload your video to one place and then syndicates it to a number of video sharing sites.  A massive time saver.

VideoJug – One of many sites that is full of online tutorials.  If your videocast is demonstrating how to do something it could be worth adding this to your places to broadcast.

Facebook – Don’t forget to add your videos to Facebook, uploading them directly to your business page makes them very easy to share within Facebook.  It’s harder to keep tabs on views but they are great for getting comments and interaction and carry more edgerank (as far as I can gather) than a link.

Prepare Yourself

1. Forget about the way you look.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comb your hair but don’t focus too much on the way you look.  Most of us are self critical and staring at a walking talking image of ourselves can be quite disconcerting. I always tell myself that in 20 years time I’ll look back at my videos and think how young and healthy I looked.

2. Don’t read from a script. You must learn your script before talking to camera, reading it will mean looking away from the camera and distracting your audience, it can also make you sound quite wooden.

3. Treat the camera as a person. Look straight into the lens of the camera, this is like making eye contact with a person so it’s really important.  It also avoids you looking at yourself when you are recording so you don’t get distracted by the way you look.

4. Practice. I record all my rehersals in case I get it right the first time.  In reality this is less likely to happen, the first may take 20 – 30 takes but as you make more videos you will find yourself doing it in 3 or 4.

5. Be Yourself. Relax and be natural in front of the camera, this way your personality will shine through.  You are what makes your videocast different to the rest so don’t be afraid of being yourself.

Have you any tips to add?  Are you new to Videocasting and have a question?  I’d love to hear your comments and queries in the comments section below.

This week Amanda from demonstrates a cool web app for videobloggers. Trying to remember what it is you wanted to say can be a challenge when you are a video blogger. Easypromptor is a autocue / telepromptor device that you can use on your own computer.

If you like cool social media tools become a fan of on Facebook where we help blow the Monday Blues away with a weekly “Monday Morning Cool Tool”.

Video blogging is a great way to increase traffic to your website, and offering value like video tutorials can be an even bigger draw.  But how do you record what you are doing on your screen so that you can insert it into your videos?

Last week Amanda investigated a few of the solutions.

The two applications featured are:



Jing offers tailored training to businesses in recording and editing Youtube videos.
For more information contact us: offers tailored training to businesses in recording and editing YouTube videos.

For more information contact us.