How Good Does My Equipment Have to Be to Shoot My Videos?

You may be surprised at how much you can do with very little, when it comes to creating your first marketing videos. Don’t spend another dollar until you’ve read this article.

Content Beats Packaging

Did you see the documentary Searching For Sugarman? It’s about a U.S. folk singer named Rodriguez, who made two records in the early seventies. Only a handful of people in the U.S. ever heard of him. Yet in South Africa, he’s bigger than Elvis—a fact he didn’t even know about until after the end of apartheid in 1994.

How did it happen? The apartheid government was not only oppressive to blacks but to citizens in general. News and media were tightly controlled. South Africans had never heard songs decrying oppression and speaking freely about human relations. In 1970, someone brought a Rodriguez album to South Africa and it resonated with people who heard it. People reproduced it on cassettes, which were passed from hand to hand.

No one even knew what he looked like. They just liked what he had to say.

The message—not the way it’s presented—is what’s important.

Start With What You Have

If you’ve got an iPhone, even one of the older models, you have pretty much all you need to get started. You can hold it in your hand or lean it up against something so that it’s pointing at you.

Get a lapel mic to increase the quality of sound . That’s a tiny microphone that clips onto your shirt lapel or collar. You can run the cord down inside your shirt and then out into the iPhone. Having the mic on the lapel puts it closer to your mouth, so you get more voice and less room or environmental noise. Some of these little mics cancel out a certain amount of background noise as well.

If you check on eBay or Amazon for “iPhone lapel mic,” you can find them for as little as $15.

Another thing which comes in handy, is a mini-tripod. You can also find this on eBay or Amazon for as little as $15. It keeps the phone stable. Some of them are even flexible, so you can use them in situations other than a tabletop.

Of course, you can use mics and tripods with Android phones as well. Check before buying to make sure the items (particularly the mic) are compatible.

The fact is, neither of these items is a must if you just want to get started.

Lighting

Probably the most important factor in creating a watchable video is the lighting. Cell phone cameras in general don’t work well in low light, so you’ve got to give them sufficient light.

Some indoor lighting sources might work alright but most ceiling lights and table lamps will tend to cast undesirable shadows across your face. There are inexpensive professional lighting solutions such as LED lights and diffusers, which more evenly distribute the light and are usually adjustable. You can aim them where you need them.

But save your money, instead. Daylight is an excellent light source, so just shoot your video outside or while you’re sitting in front of a window during the day.

Editing

It’s possible to shoot a short video without editing, though it might take a bit of rehearsal.

At the very least, you may want to trim off the first couple of seconds before you begin and last couple of seconds after you finish your video. Some Android phone standard video camera apps include this “trim” feature. For iPhone, you can download iMovie for free. This program allows you to trim and even do more advanced functions like titles and fade-ins/fade-outs.

You can also find numerous advanced editing apps for both iPhone and Android phones in their respective app stores.

These things are nice to have but are not absolutely necessary. Their absence should not stop you from getting started.

People Don’t Care

Spend the most time on your message and getting it right. Don’t spend money on more equipment.

People don’t watch marketing videos to experience artistic perfection. They watch them to learn or to benefit from it in some other way.

If your message is informative and helpful, people will rarely criticize a video because the sound or lighting wasn’t perfect. But if you waste their time by having them watch a perfectly produced video with a totally lame, useless message, you will lose a prospect or even make an enemy.

So, start with whatever you’ve got and concentrate on the strength and value of your message.

Remember: content over presentation.