A professional look is more about your technique than your tools, so you don’t need to drop a fortune on expensive equipment – chances are good that you can make great videos with whatever you’ve got right now, just by paying attention to a few key details. We’ve seen some pretty darn good iPhone videos on social media!
1. Use Lots of Light.
Lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of a finished professional video, so make it one of your top priorities during filming. If you don’t use enough properly placed light, your video will probably look amateurish.
The sun is one of the best light sources for video. If you’re filming in natural light, do your best to get your footage in the morning or evening, when the light is softer. Midday light coming from straight overhead can cast harsh shadows on your subjects, while morning and evening light is more flattering. Find a shady area for softer light.
If you’re filming indoors, you will need to be more intentional about the types of lights you use and where you place them. Avoid is overhead lighting – it can cast unflattering shadows on your subjects’ faces. Windows are a good natural light source.
Using lots of shadow light looks dramatic, and it can be distracting in professional videos where drama isn’t the intended effect. Using little or no shadow creates a more open and straightforward vibe, which is usually better for business and marketing videos.
2. Use a Clean Background.
Be deliberate about the background you use for filming. Nothing looks less professional than a messy or distracting background.
One easy way to get a professional look for your video is to use a solid-colored background. A wall, a bedsheet, or a large sheet of backdrop paper are all good options. Make sure your subject stands several feet away from the backdrop to avoid casting shadows on it.
It’s also a good idea to shoot a video in a “professional” environment: the place where you actually work or spend time. Don’t film facing a window or another reflective surface in the background of your shot.
3. Choose a Good Video Editing Program.
Good video editing software can help you turn your raw footage into something great. There are some simpler tools like Wave.video, Camtasia, or iMovie. More professional options include Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro.
Important features to pay attention to when choosing a video editor:
- The ability to add text to video;
- The ability to trim and crop videos;
- Scene transitions;
- The ability to change the aspect ratio;
- Adding filters and overlays;
- A library of stock videos and sounds.
4. Keep Your Editing Simple.
Trying out different effects can be fun during the video editing process, but don’t go too crazy. A simple, clean editing style generally looks most professional.
A few things you should be sure to do during the editing stage include:
- Using noise cancelling to clean up any background noise.
- Adjusting the lighting a little if you need to.
- Cutting out awkward pauses and silences.
- Adding background music and transitions.
5. Only Use Crisp, Clear Audio.
Your audio quality is actually more important than your professional video quality. Most people are willing to watch a video that’s not shot in HD or that’s even a little grainy, as long as everything else about it is good. But fuzzy, indistinct audio is usually enough to make anybody hit the “back” button within a few seconds of starting to play a video.
6. Do Not Use Shaky Footage.
Shaky footage will make any professional video look like a home movie (and it can make your viewers feel seasick, to boot). It’s hard to hold a camera completely steady, so try not to hold your camera at all if you can help it. Instead, use a tripod, or set your camera on a sturdy surface.
7. Understand the Rule of Thirds.
The rule of thirds is one of the most basic principles of film composition.
Imagine that there’s a 3-by-3 grid laid over the field you’re filming. Instead of placing your subject right in the middle of the shot, you should place your subject along with one of the lines of the grid. The points where the lines intersect are particularly strong areas of focus, so situate important elements of the video there, if you can.
8. Use Your Phone the Right Way.
No DSLR camera? No problem. You can use your phone to capture professional video footage – the quality is just fine for most purposes. But there are a few things in mind if you’re going to use your phone for video creation.
- Use the camera on the back of your phone. The front camera’s quality is not as good on most phones.
- Record in landscape mode (that is, horizontally instead of vertically). This will give you footage that looks good on larger devices, not just phone screens.
- If your phone has a feature that allows you to overlay a grid on your screen, use it. This will help you keep your phone level and avoid tilted footage.
9. Work On Your Camera Presence.
If you appear in your professional videos, the way you carry yourself on camera has an enormous impact on how professional your content looks. Appearing nervous, fidgety, or uncomfortable on camera will distract viewers from your message.
- Use calm, open body language. Stand up straight – poor posture is immediately obvious on camera. Keep your shoulders back and your muscles relaxed. Take deep breaths. Don’t cross your arms, since this makes you look closed-off.
- Smile, especially at the beginning of your video. It makes a huge difference in how friendly you seem.
- Slow down slightly when you talk, and make an effort to enunciate clearly. Speak from your diaphragm rather than your throat.
- If you feel jittery, try using props to keep your hands occupied. Writing on a whiteboard, for instance, can give you something to focus on besides the camera.
- Practice, practice, practice. Watch footage of yourself and identify the areas where you could improve. Then make a conscious effort to work on those things.
10. Shoot from a Variety of Angles.
Cutting from one angle to another is a good (and simple) way to add visual interest to your professional videos. This is an especially useful technique if you’re making a how-to video, a product demo, or another type of video that shows you doing something rather than just talking.
Shoot plenty of B-roll footage for each video so you have the option of using it later if you want to.
11. Plan Your Videos in Advance.
Poor technique isn’t the only thing that can make a video look unprofessional. A lack of planning can also leave viewers underwhelmed with your finished product. By taking the time to plan your video thoroughly before you start production, you can ensure that the quality of your actual content is just as good as the quality of your footage.
12. Promote Your Videos.
Creating your videos is only half the battle. The other half is getting people to watch them. If you want to present yourself as a serious and professional video creator, you’ve got to promote your videos and grow your following. It’s okay not to have a lot of views or audience interaction when you start out. Everybody has to start somewhere, and some channels naturally have more mass appeal than others, which gives them an advantage in picking up new viewers.
- Put your videos in the appropriate formats for social media.
- Upload your videos to the channels your target audience uses. Don’t waste too much energy promoting your videos on platforms that aren’t popular with your audience.
- Learn the basics of video SEO. Writing good descriptions, using keywords, and tagging your videos correctly can help you get more views.
- Publish new videos regularly. Fresh content tells viewers that your channel is active and growing. This makes them more likely to come back.
- Interact with your audience as much as possible. Respond to comments, answer questions, and thank viewers for taking the time to watch your videos.
The more professional your videos look, the more your brand will benefit from them. And, while making semi-professional-looking videos does take some practice and know-how, it isn’t magic or something you need to study for years.