A Simple Primer to Shooting Your Own Web Video the Right Way

So, you want to use videos to market your small business or just add some pizazz to your blog (getting some face time can’t hurt, right?). Besides, posting videos online at YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other sites will boost your web presence. So many are doing it, it must be easy, right? Right?

You begin your research and immediately are confronted with information overload: Advice on green screens, arguments over Adobe After Effects versus Apple Motion, camera prices, editing software debates and many more dizzying, discouraging hurdles.

Forget all that. Ignore it. Got a phone? Got a webcam? Got a camcorder? If you have any kind of video recording device, you have met the second major requirement.

“Second?” you ask.

Primer for Making Videos

Know What You Want to Say

Yes, because your first requirement is your message. Know what you’re going to say. For the basic video we’re talking about here, keep that message to no more than two minutes. You don’t have to memorize it and you probably don’t want to read it on camera (if you try to use cue cards, chances are you’ll end up with a video that has your eyes jumping all over the place).

If you just turn on the camera and ramble, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors, so think of it as preparing a speech.

Also prepare your message so that the video can be edited with a minimum of work. The easier you make things at the start, the less frustrating it will be as you are learning how to manage the bold new world of video editing.

How to Shoot the Video

You’ve got your message down (and it has the approval of all who might need to approve). It’s time to record. You’ve heard the Hollywood cry – “Lights! Camera! Action!” You’re about to join that club.


You will definitely need light on the subject, but this doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.

  • Outside is good, as long as there is sun, and it is not behind you. You don’t want a silhouetted blob talking to the camera.
  • If outside, avoid bright, glaring sun on the subject. You don’t want a bleached-out, squinting person staring into the camera, either.
  • Inside also works if you follow the same basic rules: no harsh lighting front or back.
  • Inside, you likely will get a mixture of light sources including sunlight, fluorescent and incandescent lights, which could affect colors. One light source is best, but you can deal with mixes.


Once you’re happy with the lighting, let’s set up the camera. This is not the time for a “selfie”. As a matter of fact, neither you nor a helper should hand-hold the camera if it can be avoided. Use these tips for shooting the video:

  • If you’re using your phone, shoot in landscape mode. That means horizontal. Otherwise, you don’t get the full, wide-angle view and end up with big, black pillars on both sides of your picture.
  • Steady that camera. Be it a smart phone or a $40,000 professional camera, you’re going to get better results if the camera is steady. Traditionally, that job has gone to a tripod, and there are plenty to fit the bill (here’s some suggestions). However, using a pile of books, a shelf or even duct tape to steady the camera is better than shaky video.
  • Avoid camera moves. Zooms, pans and other camera moves typically give a video a jarring, amateurish look. Even with basic video editing software, you can edit to avoid those moves.

At this level, “Camera!” includes sound. Now that people can see you, you want them to hear what you say. Bad audio can kill your video. Here are some audio basics:

  • Set up away from outside noise (unless you want the noise for atmosphere; there are exceptions to every rule, but don’t let that background noise overwhelm your speaker and the message).
  • Get as close to the microphone as possible.
  • Speak up, but don’t yell.
  •  Test your audio and play it back to check to see if it is loud enough or is distorted.
  • If you can use an external microphone, do so.


Keep it simple in the beginning. Focus on getting your message across and getting your video on the Internet. As your skill expands, you can work with walking shots and other action.

As for editing, there is a host of video editing systems and software available, many of them free. There are love stories and horror tales about each one. For the price, you can try out several. However, make your final decision before you schedule any video on the editorial calendar. As simple as they are, the editing programs still take some time to learn.

Yes, you can enter the world of video posting with a minimum investment. With enough care, it won’t look like it’s on the cheap.


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Written by Lee Dunkelberg

Lee Dunkelberg has 40 years experience in journalism, public relations and entertainment. His documentaries and reporting have won several awards. His public relations experience began as a congressional press aide, but he has since recovered.

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