Whether you’re an individual, a small business, or an enterprise-grade company, chances are you’ve discovered the value of video blogs (aka “vlogs”). With vlogs it’s possible to not only promote yourself or your company, but to more easily connect to prospective clients and/or consumers. Video allows you to present yourself with personality, depth, and heart.
However, if you opt to go the vlog route, there’s a fairly steep learning curve to getting things right. With a bit of preparation and understanding, however, you can lessen the learning curve so your vlogs look professional right out of the gate.
I want to offer up a few of my best tips for creating an outstanding vlog, so you can use it to proudly promote yourself or your company. No matter if you’re an individual artist or a large scale QA services company (such as BairesDev), you can make this a reality.
And don’t worry, you won’t have to hire an entire film crew to make this happen.
Spend a Little Cash Up Front
We have to get this out of the way first. You are going to have to spend some money. As much as you’d like to film that vlog on your smartphone, don’t. Why? Although smartphone cameras have come a long way, and are capable of taking remarkable photos, they aren’t quite as capable as creating professional-grade video on the level you’ll want.
Instead, you should consider purchasing a camera that can handle field of depth, such that it’ll focus on the subject in the foreground and partially blur what’s in the background. Using this technique means you don’t have to be so specific with your background (as it’ll be slightly blurred).
One camera that does a great job with that (without breaking the bank) is the Sony A 6300. You’ll want to also purchase a 2.8/20 Fixed Prime Lens. That affordable combination does an outstanding job for vlogs.
You’ll also need to spend the money on lighting. You don’t have to go full movie rigs, though. Instead, go for LED panel lights (such as the Neewer LED Panel Lights) and a ring light (such as the Neewer Ring Light). With three or four panels and a ring light, you’ll have more than enough illumination for your vlogs.
Another issue that cannot be stressed enough is sound. Do not rely on the camera’s built-in sound. Instead, purchase a shotgun mic that can be plugged into the camera. One of the best I’ve found is the AudioTechnica AT8024. You might be tempted to go the lavalier route, but you’ll find this shotgun mic will get you even better sound, and you won’t have to mess with hiding a mic and cord.
Setting up Your Shot
This is second in line to purchasing the right equipment. There are a few things you must know about setting up the shot. The first is the layout of your lighting. Most often the best setup is a three point system. One light pole at approximately 10 o’clock, the ring light at 12, and the other lighting pole at 2 o’clock. If you have four LED panels, place one light on each panel such that it faces directly at your subject and the other two lights filling in the background.
Your ring light should be directly in front of the subject and placed in front of the camera (such that it doesn’t appear in the frame). Play with that setup until your tests look good. It’ll take some time to get this right, so prepare to spend a few days perfecting the setup. Don’t get frustrated when things don’t look good right away.
It’s also very important to mark the spots for the light poles and the camera once you’ve dialed in the setup. You don’t want to have to second guess yourself every time you set up everything. Place tape on the floor where the feet of the poles and tripod are. Make everything as simple to recreate as possible.
Clothing and Hair
This is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be. Remember, those in front of the camera are representing you. You want them to look their best. So, before you film that first moment, make sure your subject’s hair is under control and looks camera-worthy.
As for clothing, darker solid colors tend to work best. Avoid white at all costs, as that can throw off your white balance. I tend to prefer blacks and grays, but that can sometimes be dictated by your backdrop. If your subjects will be filmed in front of a black backdrop, you don’t want them in black clothing. Also, avoid busy patterns at all costs. You don’t want anything distracting from your subjects.
Additionally, make sure your subjects don’t have oily faces. You can blot oily faces with rice paper or paper towels, or have them use a bit of face powder. Shiny faces can be quite distracting.
And speaking of shiny? No glasses, especially if you’re looking straight into the camera. Those glasses will reflect all of that light, which will serve to distract the viewer.
It doesn’t take a film class to make a vlog look professional. It does, however, take a while to perfect. Give yourself plenty of time to get beyond the learning curve, and you’ll find the results far exceed your expectations.
Remember, spend the money upfront, setup your shots with care, and make sure your subjects look professional. If you’re a YouTube influencer or a quality assurance software testing company, getting the most out of your vlogs just takes a bit of time and care.