Video hacks with Max

/ Max Thorpe

Video hacks with MaxOnline video now accounts for over 75% of all internet traffic and all signs point to that only increasing. As you scale up your video efforts, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time. So sit back, relax, here are some video hacks...with me, Max!

Plan your video shoot

Before you even pick up the camera, have a plan in place for your video. This includes scripting out your content before starting and having an idea of any b-roll footage you might need. A script is helpful for both the talent in front of the camera and the folks behind the camera because it provides a structured return point in case of improvisation. 

When moderating an interview you won’t necessarily have a script, but it’s great to set some topics you’d like to address. Contrary to a list of bullet-pointed questions, having a few goals and topics to cover allows you to flow conversationally from question to question instead of seeming like an interrogation.  

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Prevent shaky video footage

A shaky hand can ruin your video. The best way to prevent shaky footage is by using a tripod, but since that’s not always feasible, here are a few alternatives: 

  • Rest your arms or elbows on a sturdy object to limit movement (like a wall, shelf, table, etc.)
  • Get down on one knee and rest your elbow on your upright knee
  • Tuck your elbows against your chest and keep the camera close to your body. We call this the “T-rex approach”. 

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Lighting for video production

Before you hit record, make sure your subject is well-lit. If your subject is difficult to see in-person, they’ll be even more difficult to see on a screen. The best lighting for video is natural soft light, which is during the golden hour, either early morning or late evening. Whether you’re using natural light or artificial light, you’ll want to make sure your subject's lit side is facing the camera, otherwise they may end up in silhouette. A great little hack is to prop your phone up against a window. That way you’re both well lit and it’s a steady shot. 

On the other hand, in instances where you have too much natural light pouring in from outside. You can soften the light by hanging a white sheet over the windows or points of light entry to create your own makeshift softbox. 

3-point lighting

If you’re looking to scale up your production by investing in a lighting kit, a common setup among those in the industry is the three-point lighting setup. This consists of the key light, fill light and a backlight.

When setting it up, start with all the lights off and then set them up with the key or main light first, the fill light second, and the back accent light last. The main light will provide most of the brightness, while the fill light, which is set to half the power of the main light, will fill in the shadows. The backlight provides some tasteful contrast to the subject from behind. 

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Check your video’s audio

You can have a professional camera that costs thousands of dollars, but if your audio is terrible, no one is going to watch what you filmed. There are two big factors to keep in mind when it comes to your video’s audio. 

  1. How well are you picking up your subject’s voice?
  2. How much external noise are you picking up?

If you’re looking to invest in equipment to enhance your video, buying a quality microphone is a great first step. You can buy a decent lav mic or a shotgun mic for as little as $50. For a complete shopping list of video equipment to up your game, check out our Getting started with video checklist

For our smartphone videographers out there, it’s good practice to get as close as possible to your subject to get the best audio. 

When choosing a location to shoot, be conscious of how loud the environment is. The hum of an AC unit for instance, might completely drown out your talent’s voice or there could be a really strong wind outside that’s overpowering every other sound. So do your best to pick a location that allows you to control “outside” factors. In instances where a specific loud location is essential to the video, a lav mic will often be your best option. Alternatively, you could film the location and your subject in front of a green screen separately, and then pair the two shots together in post-production, cutting the excess noise. Generally speaking, the smaller the location, the easier it is to control the noise. 

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Shooting a video with your phone

Back in the day, you’d probably catch some flack for shooting a video with a flip phone camera but technology has advanced enough in the past decade that footage captured with a smartphone looks quite nice. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the best looking shot:

  1. Before taking a picture or recording a video, wipe the lens of your phone’s camera to make sure it’s clean. You’d be surprised at how dirty it can get from sitting in your pocket. 
  2. Unless you’re using the video explicitly for Instagram, it’s best to turn the phone horizontally so that the video will take up the full screen in the horizontal 16:9 format. 
  3. If you’re taking a selfie, lock your arm out for a more steady and wide shot. 

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Brand your video content with a static logo

Adding your branding to each of your videos is a nice and professional way to help your audience trace a video back to your site once it’s shared. You can add your logo or watermark to your video by dragging the PNG or JPEG file into a corner of the screen. Just make sure that you put that image in one of the top video tracks to avoid it being covered. You’ll then want to make sure that the track is extended for the full length of your video so it doesn’t disappear halfway through. Lastly, you can also make the logo slightly transparent for more of a watermark effect. 

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So there you have it! There are a few video hacks for you to incorporate so that should keep you busy for a while with at least a couple videos. With all these videos you’re creating, remember that you can actually have multiple video renders going simultaneously in WeVideo. So you don’t need to wait for one to finish, you can start working on your next video and you’ll get a notification your render is done. Happy editing!

Looking to invest in video equipment?

Download our "Getting started with video checklist"

How to create videos that convert