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How can I make my videos better?

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Boe Beito
How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 2, 2016 at 2:55:59 pm

Hey folks,

I'll give some brief background information into my request. This query is actually more wholistic than just about editing techniques, so if you've got some insight into other areas I can improve upon, please include them. I'm a one-man-band video producer at a company in the relative middle of nowhere.

My arsenal includes a GH3, 12-35, 1 wireless LAV mic, and a pretty nice ARRI tungsten light kit. I'm often filming where ever people don't happen to be working that day so audio can be a challenge. We release a video per week so the turn around is relatively short and my on-camera talent consists of a rotation of subject matter experts that I usually have to bribe to get in front of the camera.

We make it work and my bosses are happy with the product I'm putting out but I know I can do better with the resources I have and if we ever get approval for more budget, I want to show a marked return on their investment.

Here are a couple of examples of the videos I produce. We try to keep them concise and clean, focusing on getting the information across to our dealer network and the consumer.

I appreciate those of you that took the time to read this and would be grateful for any feedback that you might have. Feel free to be blunt. You won't hurt my feelings and I know that there's a lot that I can improve on!

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Bret Williams
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 2, 2016 at 5:58:21 pm

I think they're pretty good. Short, straightforward and wow, the camera is on a tripod! Not common in these sort of vids.

But, do I have to be the one to say it? Professional female talent. I've done some videos demoing woodworking equipment and they certainly do brighten up the piece. Just edit these like you always do, then write down what these guys say and have your pro talent do and say exactly what they did. Having the same host will give it some continuity. Yes, that's what you tell your boss. It needs continuity, so you're going to hire some pro talent. :)

Also I think you might do a steps 1,2,3... and then a little review at the end.

Very nice.

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Jeff Kirkland
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 2, 2016 at 8:43:44 pm

I thought they were pretty good. A couple of things spring to mind...

Visually, I'd have liked to see some of those nooks and crannies get some extra light. I noticed several,places where what we were talking about was almost lost in the shadows. I shot similar videos for an automotive service chain here in Australia a few years ago and I used flashlights and some nifty little magnetic flexible LED lights to get some light into those spaces. Small mirrors were also mighty handy for bouncing light around inside the engine bay.

I'm a qualified trainer and one of the basic principles of adult learning is that people want to know "who are you and what qualifies you to tell me stuff", "what's in it for me if I take the time to sit through this" and "why do I need to know it?". So generally speaking the script for a good training video introduces the person speaking, and why I should believe they know what they're doing (eg, Fred Smith, Senior Mechanic), then tells me what I'm going to learn if I watch the video (today I'm going to show you how to.... and this is why you need to know this), then show the training, then a quick summary of the steps if you feel it needs it (see - you did learn something worthwhile by watching this).

Hope that makes sense.

I'd also have tried to get some consistancy in the on-screen talent. I thought they all did quite well for non professionals but I'd maybe look at getting them to wear the same shirt with a company logo, or something along those lines. Even if you only have a couple made up in different sizes that you keep and get them to put it on when you're shooting. Its something that would tie all the presenters together and stop them looking like they'd just wandered in off the street.

Jeff Kirkland | Video Producer | Southern Creative Media | Melbourne Australia | G+: | Twitter: @jeffkirkland

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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 2, 2016 at 10:11:48 pm

There's very little to criticize; I like them a lot. The tool identification section is nicely done. The camerawork is good, you might wanna try a lipstick or cube camera with macro lens to get in some of the tighter areas, but everything the videos showed made sense to me as someone who has never turned a wrench on a snowmobile. So you're doing well.

The common shirt idea as a unifying theme is a very good one, and not expensive to do.

The audio *could* be a little slower and clearer. Youtube viewers have that gear icon that lets the audience play the clips faster or slower, to individual tastes. That means you don't have to make the presenters rush quite as much. Your presenters are hurrying thru the scripts a little bit, afraid to leave "dead air" during sections that take longer, and running out of air to breathe. If they're using a prompter, it's rolling a little too fast. And you're up-cutting some of their sentences here and there a little bit. As they go point by point, every once in a while, the *why* of what they are doing, or the importance of the sequence, could be emphasized.

I'm not in favor of making all the segments be hosted by a female presenter. It's a little last-century, if you're doing it for the wrong reason. It's 2016: Your audience is probably no longer strictly male. Women own their own vehicles and some women very well probably do some of these maintenance functions, somewhere, but even if they don't care to do it themselves, they may still watch to understand what the shop will be doing to their machine, what a broken or worn part looks like, and about how long it should take to fix. If you have an actual female mechanic, go ahead and use her in some segments, but it comes across less staged, inauthentic, and stereotyped IMO if she's mixed in with the guys, and not made to do every episode by herself.

You might consider tag-teaming the demonstrations, with one person doing the work as the other talks. They might even ask and answer questions between each other as they work.

Another idea is to designate each shop person as a particular systems expert, building an "identity" and "personality" for each segment. I.E. "Joe" does all the segments on engines and engine sub-systems. "Betty" does all segments involving suspension and steering/Braking. "Herman" does anything involving the frame, bodywork, upholstery, and accessories like electrical harnesses, gauges/displays, lights, etc. After a while, repeat visitors to your site will be able to recognize the categories on sight without even reading the titles, just by who is the presenter.

You want each presenter to curate their own video segment's comments, adding details that wouldn't fit in the video... if you enable comments in the first place. They are the best person to "follow-up" any questions on what they just presented, after all.

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Joe Marler
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 2, 2016 at 10:03:59 pm

[Boe Beito] "My arsenal includes a GH3, 12-35, 1 wireless LAV mic, and a pretty nice ARRI tungsten light kit...We make it work and my bosses are happy with the product I'm putting out but I know I can do better with the resources I have and if we ever get approval for more budget, I want to show a marked return on their investment."

These are quite good by the standards of this type of material. You have already done many things right: they are brief (most similar ones are too long), you summarize the tools at the beginning and give an annotated close up, and your audio, video quality and lighting are good.

This really demonstrates how you don't need highly expensive equipment to make a good quality instructional video.

Considering these are done in a one-week turnaround, if I was the customer I'd be very satisfied.

Here are a few things you could consider, but keep in mind they are pretty good as is. Every additional production step takes more time so this is a trade off.

- You only have one camera but you can shoot multiple takes and cut to another angle in post, say when the speaker turns his head. Anything which introduces visual variety is good.

- Consider using a "call out" plug-in to further highlight and visually specify items:

- For some items such as the Upper Chaincase video, consider cutting to a macro shot of the item. You'll have to experiment to see how close you can get with the 12-35mm lens. Alternatively you can take a still, blow that up in post and do a Ken Burns zoom/pan on it. Don't overdo this but it can throw in some visual variety.

- For table top objects, consider using an inexpensive "roller skate" camera dolly. This adds motion to the shot which is visually more interesting:

- On some shots of close-up small items, it might help clarity to start wide to show context, then zoom in to show detail. Again, don't over-do the zooming which also gets tedious.

- At the end consider summarizing with bullet points. Obviously that would have to be scripted so you have covering dialog. These videos are very short so you could get by without it but it's just one more little flourish.

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Boe Beito
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:34:52 pm

You guys are wonderful. I'm grateful for all of the suggestions and I'm going to write them all done and start implementing them into our process.

Just a quick note on the dialogue specific suggestions: we currently don't use any sort of script. I've just recently pushed for a pre-production meeting with the person that submits the video idea and the person that'll be on camera in order to iron out our major points and make a sort of rough outline so we're all on the same page. This has cut down on reshoots quite a bit but I'm still considering implementing an actual script. My only concern is that I'm not a subject matter expert on most of these procedures so the writing process could be a pretty big time investment, considering how long it usually takes to correspond (and hear back) with engineers and techs around here. My other concern is that a script/prompter might make it sound more robotic (considering these guys aren't professional presenter/speakers) and the perceived credibility of of the on camera talent might take a hit.

Thanks again for all of the great feedback - don't hesitate to submit more ideas if you've got them!

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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I make my videos better?
on Mar 3, 2016 at 3:04:23 pm

Regarding the scripting... what I suggest is, have them talk thru it with you in their own words, while you copy it all down. Then just edit what they said for clarity and flow, and feed it right back to them. A technique we use a lot is to ask leading questions that can't be answered with a "yes" or "no", and we ask them to incorporate the question back into the answer. Their responses then cut together very well after you cut out the questions, and it comes out like they wrote their own dialog, because, in a way, they did.

Example of the question-in-the-answer process:

"Explain how freezing one component and heating the other makes inserting a new bearing in the case easier, because...?"

"Freezing one component and heating the other makes installing the replacement bearing easier because metals shrink when cooled and expand when they are hot. The tolerances of the new bearing, and the hole it fits into, are deliberately very tight, but we can make the job easy if we freeze the bearing race to make it shrink just a little, and heat the casing up so the hole temporarily expands. Instead of sweating and forcing the parts together, the new bearing slips right in. And as soon as the temperatures equalize just a little, the fit tightens right up."

Consider combining this process with using a teleprompter for longer takes, and you may find the presenters get smoother.

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