The number one question I get about creating regular, engaging content is not about the words, but rather about the imagery. “Where do you find good photos?” “How do you get words onto images?” “How do I create a video that doesn’t cost a million dollars?” “How do you make videos look so good?”
In case you missed March’s webinar on this very subject, you’ll wanna watch the recorded video of the session which can be found in the Coaching Portal. In less than 40 minutes, I walk you through step-by-step how to make awesome pics and video. The webinar was so fun, I thought I’d create this blog post to go with it.
If you have a smartphone, you already have a great camera, video recorder and audio studio right there in the palm of your hand. If you follow a few simple principles, you can create professional and compelling visuals to go with your creative copy!
How to take a great photo:
You probably know how to recognize a great picture, but perhaps you aren’t sure why you like it so much.
- Light Source: Make sure the light source is in front of the subject, pointing complimentary light. Check for shadows, and make sure there aren’t any weird glaring lights behind the subject. This includes windows, which tend to cast blurry white light and make the subject look dark and grey.
- Framing: Come in nice and close to the camera, eliminating excess space around the subject. Don’t make the subject too small in the frame.
- Follow the rule of thirds: which suggests the subject not be dead center, but rather off to the left or right just a bit. This creates interesting contrast and some fun with focus that makes for a more compelling photo.
- Your appearance: Check to make sure your hair, makeup and clothes look perfect. This applies to guys, too! Make sure you shave and don’t have a big glossy forehead!
- Add some graphics at Canva.com: When you’ve selected a photo you like, take it over to Canva.com and let the fun begin! Add words, graphics, lines, frames, and effects (vignette is my favorite, casting a shadow-y edge around the frame). Canva is free and provides all the templates for every possible application, including social media, blogs and general presentations.
- Use big high resolution images: When your design is ready, download it as a PDF for print onto your desktop. This makes for a nice big high quality image file. Now you can zap it onto your blog and/or share to social.
Video: Adhere to all of the suggested photo composition tips, plus the following…
- Landscape orientation: Make sure to film horizontally, holding your smartphone in a landscape position (wide, not tall). This is important so the video will fill the frame and not have those two annoying black areas to the left and right of the view finder!
- Keep the camera steady: Use a simple tripod or duct tape to hold the phone in place. Nothing more annoying than a shaky out-of-focus bit of film, and this is an easy adjustment to make.
- Adjust view finder to face you: Adjust the lens so it is filming you, and you can see yourself in the view finder. This lets you maintain direction and ensure composition. Otherwise, you can’t see what you’re filming.
- Keep it short! :30 secs in a great piece of film. Commercials on TV are :30 secs. Depending on what you’re filming, it might need to go longer, but probably not as long as you think. We lose attention and focus really easily.
- Use iMovie (Macs): Easily clip out any bloopers, including the beginning and end where you turn the camera on and off. I usually clip out any lip smacking or repetitive “ums and ers” I make.
- Use your cool photos as your video thumbnail: iMovie makes it really easy to add in titles, transitions and music. You can also add in that cool photo you made in Canva, and use it for your intro thumbnail!
- Upload your film to Wistia or Vimeo: When your short little film is done, grab the embed code from one of these online video hosting companies and stick it on your site or share to social! I prefer these two over YouTube for your website because they are more attractive and Wistia offers phenomenal reporting.
Audio podcast:Don’t forget your phone has an awesome voice recorder!
This is almost the biggest pleasant surprise of all. I sometimes forget that my smartphone has an excellent recording device! Voice memos comes with my phone, although there are plenty of other recording apps out there. I’m always amazed at the high quality of sound.
- Rehearse. Don’t make us suffer with tangential disconnected thoughts. Have some notes close by that you can use to keep you on track.
- Test to make sure your volume levels are good. This applies to weird headsets, as well. I like to take my phone into a small space that is quiet and filled with plenty of sound absorbing things. Closets work if you don’t have a sound studio.
- Use Zoom to record the call. Want to record an interview or conversation with another person? I like to use Zoom, a free shared video conferencing resource (I think it might be about $15/mo to use their recording feature). Start a meeting and activate the recording feature. It’s important to mute your computer to avoid echos. Then simply call in with your phone so Zoom is now recording anything you say.From your phone, you can call your interviewee. First thing, inform him or her or them you are recording. That’s important. Then, enjoy your conversation and when you’re done, end the Zoom meeting on your computer. The recording will automatically process into an archive folder. In the folder, you’ll find the various meeting files, including the audio mp3.
- Consider transcribing the conversation: If you like the audio as is, you can simply upload this to a blog post. If you want to get the audio file transcribed, I love Rev.com which only charges $1/minute. They usually turn around your audio into a perfect word doc in less than 24 hours. You’ll be able to post your audio and transcript together.
No need to wait. Go forth and create awesome pics, videos and audio podcasts! Don’t forget to share so we can all see your creations.