Video content is on the rise and the amount of video being created is only accelerating. With all that content fighting for your viewers’ attention, it's important to make your video as visually appealing as possible. As the Director of Photography at VMG Studios, I’m always looking for fresh ways to shoot content. Here are 5 things you can do to turn your video into eye candy.
1. Organic locations instead of clean sets
In the past few years most videos, especially marketing videos, have been shot in a studio to enable more control over the shooting process. The only problem with that approach is it tends to feel very stale and impersonal, which can make it harder for your audience to connect with.
To offset this problem is to shoot on location in an environment where the subject would naturally be. This helps put the subject at ease, which often drives a better performance especially with non-professional talent. This also makes it a lot easier for the viewer to organically connect and engage with the story.
2. Natural lighting
Just like putting your on-camera talent in a studio set can take the viewer out of the moment, so can using too much artificial lighting. The goal with lighting is to make it feel as natural as possible, like the subject was just sitting next to a big window or light was casually spilling in from the next room. This way the viewer isn’t thinking, even subconsciously, “where’s that light coming from?” The lighting shouldn’t distract from the story happening on-screen.
3. Interview subjects looking into camera
When you’re interviewing someone on-camera, there’s always the question of where the interviewee is looking, which really boils down to who the person is talking to. Historically speaking, the person being interviewed is looking straight at the interviewer.
This generally helps the interviewee feel more comfortable since they’re having a conversation with another person, rather than staring down the barrel of a camera lens. However, this off-camera interaction can lead to a disconnect between the viewer and the story, because, as humans, we link eye contact with connection.
We’ve been seeing an uptick of videos where the interviewee is looking straight into the camera. This is due, in part, to the rise of social media influencers on YouTube and Instagram speaking directly to their followers (and camera). This is a great way to make your audience feel like they are being directly spoken to, which helps increase the video’s engagement.
In the interview sense, having a subject talk directly to camera can be challenging since not everyone is comfortable doing so. One way around this is to use an eye assist system, essentially a teleprompter. Instead of showing a script, however, the teleprompter can show the feed from a camera pointed at the interviewer. This way, you get the look of talking directly to the audience, but the interviewee feels like they are still having a one-to-one conversation with a person rather than a camera lens.
4. Intentional camera movement
We’ve all watched those videos, the ones where the camera is locked down, so the video essentially looks like still pictures that happen to move. It’s generally not the most engaging style of video and I often find myself losing interest pretty quickly. What really draws audiences into a video is when the camera has life to it. Now I’m not talking about running around with a camera Blair Witch style, but instead moving the camera in a specific, precise way that helps move along the story of the video.
Camera movements can be used in a variety of fashion to forward the story. You could slide the camera out from behind something to reveal something else. You could use selective focus to guide the viewers’ eye. You could follow someone going through a series of actions; the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
5. Top down viewpoints: drone or flat lay
Sometimes all it takes to get your viewers actively engaging in your video is to show them something familiar from a different point of view. There’s a reason people love seeing drone footage so much; it almost feels totally alien because it’s all things they recognize, but from a viewpoint that’s foreign.
The same can be said for top down or flat lay images. It’s a great way to show things that normally happen on a horizontal plane, like cooking for example.
Similar to the trends we’re seeing in social media, the transition to authentic, natural settings is becoming prominent in the video world as well. While the digital space we live in allows people to connect all over the world, it can also make some people feel disconnected to true human interaction. To offset this, we’re seeing a shift to humanizing the content we see online by offering organic yet unique perspectives.
Using some of these techniques mentioned in this article can help humanize your business, content, and messaging to your target audience and connect to them on a more personal level. Hit the refresh button in the new year with some fresh ideas and you’ll surely be able to stand out.