Video is worth 1.8 million words.
James L. McQuivey, Forrester Research
While people often toss around a word like “4K video,” the success of a film like Tangerine (2015), shot on an iPhone 5s and a Sundance Film Festival selection, proves you don’t need the latest camera and technology to engage your viewers; you simply need to tell a great story.
1. Find out what the story is
All good videos need a good story, or else it’s a waste of your audience’s time, and most importantly a waste of your own precious time. A story can be anything from how a business got started, a story about a water crisis in an American town, or a story about how someone discovered a weird hobby that only 3 people in the world practice. All stories center around humans to illicit specific emotions in humans.
2. Know who your audience is
There are thousands of beautifully-shot videos, and videos produced for thousands of dollars that can still miss their mark and not deliver the intended message. Sure, those videos look pretty, but does your audience understand the message by the end of the video?
When you make something that is to be consumed or viewed by other people, you have to think like them and try to deliver the images and text in a way that they would best absorb and interpret them. If you are making a video that will be viewed by children aged 3-5 years old, you might want to use cartoons or talking animals to connect with that audience and use minimal text. If you are making a video whose main audience will be people aged 60-85 years old, your video might be simpler, more traditional imagery with text to highlight the video’s main points. Know your audience. Think like your audience.
3. Put in the time and effort – Invest in the success of the video
Producing a great video takes time and effort, and a lot of learning. Sometimes making the best video means you might be shooting more days than you thought, or that the video requires more editing time than you expected. Taking the shortest route isn’t always the best route. Give your work the time and effort it deserves.
The same goes for pursuing things for which you don’t possess all of the necessary skills yet. You might be searching Google or Youtube “How To” videos when you can’t figure out how to do certain things with your camera or in editing, but this is a part of the process. I still Google/Youtube things, especially when software programs get updates and the simplest of things change. The success of the video isn’t just time and effort into the video itself; it is time and effort into you learning the process and becoming better at it.
4. Prioritize audio quality over video quality
Story, audience, time & effort. When you have all three elements, you have the makings of a great video. If your story is compelling enough, and you successfully craft it toward your intended audience, and you put in the extra time and effort, people will notice those things and not be immediately turned-off by the low quality of your video. Your audience will, however, be turned off if your video has bad audio. If this doesn’t make sense to you, imagine the videos that people post on Facebook that were shot outdoors with a lot of wind pounding and us having to listen to the loud rumbling sound of wind. Not pleasant or worth watching that 30 pound tuna your uncle caught on his retirement vacation.
5. Watch other people’s videos and judge them
Have you ever heard the quote “If you want to be a good writer you have to be a good reader?” Well, the same goes for video. The good thing about this is that there are MILLIONS of videos to watch online. And I don’t mean only watching the “good” videos; you must watch all the bad videos too and make a mental list of what looks good to you and what makes you cringe. If you don’t have a judgement on what’s good and what’s bad, then how will you know which one you are? The development of your ability to judge (yes, judging is okay here) is actually known as something else you might have heard already: developing your eye. When you hear people say so-and-so’s “got a good eye!” in the case of photography and video, it is really a person’s ability to quickly judge what looks “right” and what doesn’t. So watch other videos, good and bad, and judge them.
Have more tips on making good videos? Leave a comment below.