Retrograde (4)

Episode Description

This episode of The Video Marketing Show is brought to you by Phil & Graham. It has been proven over the past few months how effective video can be when communicating with staff or customers. In this episode Phil & Graham will give you hints, tips and ideas on how to make your home videos look professional. They will cover areas from lighting to sound and how to frame a video. They also offer advice and best practice for when you’re filming with your smartphone.

Watch the entire episode on our YouTube channel via the link above, or you can listen to the podcast version below.


Welcome to The Ark Media Video Marketing Show.

Welcome to The Video Marketing Show, today we’ve got Phil and myself Graham, and we’re going to be talking about five top tips about getting the best footage you can when you’re making your own videos at home. To start off with, let’s talk about background, have you got a couple of tips about background, what looks best what doesn’t look good?

I think the main thing with the background is, to make sure you haven’t got a window behind yourself, because that will just over expose, if you have ever watch things like crime watch where you have the person in silhouette and then the big window behind them, you cannot see them. That’s a bit of a lighting tip, when it comes to background, it’s trying to make it engaging and interesting for whoever is watching your video. So it might be that you have a roller banner or a banner like this behind you, it might be that you just have something like the company logo on the door that you’re in the office, or something like that or, if you’re in a factory, you might have the shop floor behind you to show the depth of your operation, show scale. It really depends on the environment, and I think that is one of the biggest challenges when we are out filming, is what do you put behind people? Sometimes you could be in a really horrible little room and there are no real options, so then you might try to make the background fully white, us a white wall or even a different coloured wall, just something so that it’s not taking the eye off the person being interviewed, it’s not distracting. It can be complementary, but you don’t want it to overpower them.

I would agree, when you’re looking at background, you should always try and find something that is relevant to what you are talking about. Because, if you’re talking about, I don’t know, if you’re talking about a factory and you’re stuck in an office somewhere, it doesn’t really work, you know, it’s really got to fit with it. Coming back to the whole lighting, because people might not understand this as much but, you have different forms of light so, you know, inside this room now is a lot darker than what it is outside, and that’s why when you film yourself against a window, the camera on your phone automatically picks up the light outside. So outside is going to nice and pretty and stuff, but your face is just going to be black. So the best thing to do in that situation is to just turn yourself around, use the natural light source that is coming in from the window to lighten you up, you know natural light is one of the best forms of light, it’s quite a light colour as well, it’s not kind of tungsten orange. Just be careful with that, if you’ve got harsh sun light coming through, you know don’t use it then, if it’s kind of diffused if it’s a cloudy day then one hundred percent use that.

Yeah that’s interesting because a lot of our clients think ‘oh it’s a beautiful blue-sky day, it’s going to look great’. When actually, for filming purposes, having clouds in the sky is much better because it softens the light, it’s too harsh contrasts, you get big shadows, whereas actually, yeah, if you have lots of cloud, it looks better on camera, it might not be perfect for the scene they’re trying to create, but it certainly creates a better filming environment. The other thing I would add to that as well, is if you are filming outdoors, it’s making sure that whoever is being interviewed is not looking into the sun. So, although it is useful to have the sunlight coming towards them, it would always be on an offset angle because you don’t want them squinting or not being able to see the camera. It just ruins the performance if the viewer is constantly looking at them squinting.

Yeah, so, we’ve covered background, we’ve covered a little bit about lighting, and how to utilise natural light in your home. Now let’s talk about composition, composition is kind of like the framing of the shot isn’t it, so what are your suggestions on the best way, for someone who doesn’t know a lot about filming, what’s the best way to get good composition?

Well it’s interesting it goes back to when I was a student at college, I was sixteen, fresh out of school, going to college to do media studies, one of the very first lessons the lecturer taught you was, if you’ve got the camera frame, you always try to get their eyes two thirds up the screen, because it feels like a natural height for someone to be looking at you. If you have their eyes in the bottom half of the screen or too high, you might be chopping their head off or you might have too much space above them, it doesn’t create a very good vibe for the viewer. The other thing as well is say I am looking that way, you always leave more space in front of the person, because then it just looks like they have space to talk into. Whereas if they are up against the edge of frame, it can feel a little uncomfortable, a claustrophobic, even for the viewer. Now sometimes, you might actually want to create that, you see a lot of films where they use really bizarre camera angles where it does feel like the actor is trapped.

Kind of feels strange and odd doesn’t it.

Yeah, but they are trying to do that on purpose because they are trying to create the mood of claustrophobia or threat or horror, but if you are doing a standard type of interview, where they are not looking directly at the camera, because that’s another interesting thing about composition, you could have someone look directly at camera, or you could have someone having a conversation piece where they are looking off camera, that’s very much again in how you are styling the video. Are you presenting? Are you like Ant and Dec or a news reader, or are you being interviewed so looking off camera? These are all the compositional decisions you need to make.

I think for a lot of people, when they are filming themselves or filming someone else, on their iPhone or their cheap DSLR or whatever, I’d always recommend, especially if your doing it yourself, talking straight to camera. Because, you know it’s simple then and it’s another way of getting a message across, if you’re talking straight down the lens, it’s almost like you’re talking to the person watching this.

Definitely, another interesting thing around composition and it’s a bug bear of mine for someone who has worked in the TV, film and corporate space for quite a long time now. I always want things shot horizontally. Now that’s very much changing in the modern world, because of things like Facebook and Instagram, people will scroll down whilst holding their device vertically.  But actually I’ve always taken the view that, the cinema screen is that shape, the television screen is that shape, or in the olden days it was much more square, but the medium was made to be that shape. Actually now, and the next generation that are coming through are sort of fighting a little bit against that, to create another question that perhaps a couple of years ago, you wouldn’t even ask, but which way round do I position the camera?

I think, for me they both have pros and cons. Now I think, you know, I’m the same as you, film everything landscape you know. You’ve got a lot more space around your shot, if you’re filming portrait your cutting it off

It’s quite tight isn’t it

Yeah, but a lot of social media channels like it, portrait now don’t they.

Yeah, if you’re holding it vertically, you could end up with the black bars at the top or the bottom, and that’s what people, they won’t like that either, because of losing that screen space, so, it has to be discussed and that sort of goes into identifying your audience, are they on Facebook? Are they on a cinema screen, you know if you work it out where you are actually aiming your videos, then you can adapt to actually, you know, that audience.

I mean, composition, all the rules that we have talked about are based around shooting landscape

Yeah, they are

So you know, if you flip it around and put it portrait, the same model applies but it’s just slightly different. It’s like why reinvent the wheel sometimes. When they used, obviously, you know TV’s used to be square, framing had to be different. So, like now when they are filming, they have this empty space here.


Back in the day it used to be here, it would kind of be here, there was no empty space. So as soon as introduced this wider screen picture, it gave people so much more room to play around with on this side. You could put objects there put colours there

Graphics as well

So, the next thing we are going to look at is a tripod. For me there is not loads to talk about with a tripod


I think if you are making videos at home, you’ve got to keep it steady

Yeah. I think the key there with a tripod, as you say, it is literally a bit of metal or plastic that will hold the camera still. But, that holds camera still bit is the key, the amount of videos that you see that are shot by someone with less experience, and they’re wobbling around or they don’t hold their shots for long enough, the tripod is the perfect way to take that element out the equation. For example, how we are filming today on three cameras, they’re all on a tripod, they’re all still, the shots stay the same. For any level of film making or making content on your phone, its much wiser to have a tripod just for the steadiness.

That’s it I mean, you know, it’s a tool isn’t it, use a tripod to get a certain type of shot, but I’d say like home videos, it’s not the kind of video where you don’t use a tripod. Because you just need it steady. If you don’t have a tripod improvise, but a table on a chair, and you know, just balance it on the table.

Absolutely, you can use anything, gaffer tape your iPhone to the wall. Whatever it requires, just keep it nice and steady for the duration of the filming.


So, the final thing that we haven’t touched upon is sound. Sound is such a massive part of video, its audio visual, the audio bit should not be neglected for the video bit. The interesting thing there is things like the iPhones and the Android phones, the cameras are so good now that you can get good quality video at proper high levels, you can drop a clip from an iPhone into some of our videos that are being shot on a really high quality DSLR. But actually, the problem arises with the sound, because the way that your sound waves go away from you means that the microphone has to be as close to you as possible, it doesn’t want to be the other side of the room. Again, in the scenario we are in now, you can’t see it on the cameras, but the microphone is just above our heads.  That gives you that clarity of sound, now if you’re shooting on an iPhone as a consumer, you’re always going to suffer, lighting and sounds are always going to be where you suffer

I mean there’s, for me, I think there’s a stat out there, that people are more likely to turn off a video if the audio is bad than the picture quality. I would, you know, if you can’t hear it, just get rid of it. There are a couple of way that you can utilise good microphones with your smartphone, I think the cheapest, and most efficient way is to use ear buds, or Bluetooth headphones and stuff, obviously they are designed for hands free calling, they do have a microphone in there, and that is going to be closer to your mouth that what your camera is over there


The second is you can get something that is called a lapel mic, or a lap mic, and it’s just a mic that clips onto your lapel here. So the microphone is there, it’s really close to your mouth, but usually there is quite a long wire with them and a lot of iPhones and smartphones are getting rid of the audio in which you would usually plug it into so you can probably still find them but they are probably a bit harder to come by. Another alternative that a lot of people don’t think about, it depends on how skilled you are at editing, but you could film your sound externally. There is internal audio, so you plug the microphone into the camera, they record, video is there, sound is there, they kind of compress themselves. Or you can do external audio, the video file is there, you’re recording it on your phone, but you’ve got an external recorder or a Dictaphone. You record them separately, and then when you get to the edit suit you can just sync them up.

Absolutely, yeah

And if you’ve got a bit of skill, I would recommend doing that because you can have the camera five metres away, but you can have the recorder there.

Yeah, absolutely.

I wouldn’t rely solely on the phone. So, that’s our five top tips about filming from home, we do have an online course so if you want to learn more about that we will put a link in at the bottom of this video. We do offer as quick edit service as well, which starts from ninety-nine pounds, plus vat and that is to edit up to two minutes of you home footage video. Thank you for listening, bye.


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