The vlog – Simple but powerful
You’ve got a great SAP business and you’re proud of what you deliver. Now you need to communicate your awesomeness to the world, and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems – this is where marketing comes in!
If you are an SAP partner who is looking to learn more about marketing or review the fundamentals, then this post is for you!
So you want to create a video – awesome! In the age of YouTube and devices with embedded high-quality cameras, video-creation has never been more accessible.
In this post we will provide high-level view of the steps you need to take to produce a vlog – a video blog – where it’s just you and your camera speaking to your audience.
Types of videos
There are so many different types of video styles to consider. These can include:
Of course a video can be composed with a single style in mind but also be put together using combination of styles as well.
What is a vlog good for?
Vlogs a great way for your audience to get to know you as an individual. Because you are facing the camera, you are simulating a face-to-face conversation. Your audience is focused on you, and it’s a great opportunity for you to build your brand and demonstrate your thought leadership. The type of information you should share in a vlog should can be high-level information – stuff that you would talk about in a face-to-face conversation with someone – but it can also communicate more in-depth information – for example, if you were teaching your audience something. Just remember that the longer and/or more complex your content is, the harder it will be to keep their attention, so you will want to consider your audience’s awareness of and trust in you before you create more in-depth videos.
There’s nowhere for you to hide when you are creating a vlog – it’s all about you! This means that how you present yourself and deliver your message will play a major role in how the audience receives it. What does this mean? Well, you need to consider the following:
Ensure that you are dressed appropriate to your audience’s expectations. The camera catches everything, so make sure your clothes are fresh, your hair is set, and that smudge of hot chocolate has been wiped from your lips!
Also make sure your face is appropriately lit so that people can see you properly!
While your vlog focuses on you, your audience will notice everything that the camera captures. This means any object beside or behind you. Make sure that everything is properly arranged and tidy, and is reflective of your message and audience expectations. You might choose to record in front of your beautiful bookcase in your living room, but if all the book titles are children’s stories, then you risk not being able to optimize your influence (although in this example, you might be communicating a different message, which some people might also find valuable)
In general, shorter is better, especially when you are trying to catch the attention of an audience who might not know you well. Consider that with media of all types and from all sources competing for your audience’s time and attention, not to mention the other tasks and demands they face, their attention span is very limited. So make sure you capture their attention fast, and communicate your value right away with a call to action. Once you have earned the trust of your audience, can you then consider longer videos – when your audience knows you and trusts you, they will be willing to invest their time to consume your time-consuming content. But regardless of the length of your video, never forget that you need to communicate your value proposition – ensure that your message is all about them!
Advances in recording technology mean that finding a good-quality camera is as easy as looking at your mobile phone (your laptop as well, but I’m not fond of it, to be honest). That being said, there are some features on dedicated cameras that can help you a lot when you are recording. Here are some camera features that you should look for:
- Resolution: Ensure your camera records at least 1080p
- Microphone / recorder input: For good-quality sound recording, you should invest in a separate microphone and not rely on the built-in mic that comes with the camera
- SD card slot: While standard in newer cameras, older cameras might have other storage tech or only make their internal memory available
- Flip screen: By flipping the screen to face you while recording, you can see how you appear, and immediately make any necessary adjustments
- WiFi-based functionality
- Remote shooting: use your mobile device to control the recording
- Remote view: use your mobile device to see how you appear
- Real-time broadcasting: for livestreaming
- Wireless data transfer: for easy transfer of files to your computer or cloud storage
Camera stands are light, inexpensive, versatile, and allow you to easily reposition your camera at its optimal recording position
It’s important to consider lighting, because how cameras react to it.
- If areas behind you are brighter than your face (for example a window or light source), the camera will adjust its exposure settings, and any shadows that appear on your face will become emphasized.
- A camera adjusting for artificial light can produce an end result that has a strange colour.
- If the light level of the room isn’t high enough (i.e. if the light source isn’t bright enough), the entire shot will appear dark and shadowy
Here are a few simple tips for lighting
- If you are recording in a room that uses natural light, ensure that the light source is behind the camera and shining on you – so in other words, face the window and position yourself a close to the window as possible – in most cases the camera will be right against the window
- If you are using artificial light, full-spectrum or tungsten fluorescent lighting is best
- You can also consider a portable lighting system
- Place the unit 45-degrees to the side of you, and slightly higher than your head to minimize shadows on your face
- Use a second unit to bounce light off a wall or ceiling, to raise the overall light level of the room
While we might associate video primarily as being a visual experience, do not underestimate the importance of good quality sound. Dialog that sounds distant or has too much echo can be off-putting and takes away from the professional impression that you want to portray.
While there are many different types of microphones available, the two key ones for your purposes are shotgun and lavalier.
- Shotgun mics are placed on a boom-pole and need to be handled by a boom operator during recording
- Lavalier (or “lav”) mics are worn on the clothing
For videos where the presenter is not moving (or not visible), either of these mic types are acceptable. However for optimal audio quality, where your subjects are moving a lot, or where there is a lot of background noise, the shotgun mic is the better choice (but you do require an additional person to maintain the position of the mic).
If you are speaking directly to the camera, you don’t want to give the impression that you are reading from a script! We’ve all seen it, it’s distracting, and even if you wrote the script, it gives the impression that it’s unauthentic.
Unless you’re good at speaking “off the cuff”, you should either memorize your script or use a teleprompter.
Teleprompters can be expensive, unless you’re handy and make your own, so perhaps it might make more sense to memorize your script.
Props and backdrop
Feel free to add props or a backdrop to enhance your set. Just make sure they are authentic and correspond to the image you want to project. For example:
- If you include a bookshelf in the background, make sure that they are stacked neatly and that the titles are related to your business or the topic of your video
- If you filming against a plastered and painted wall, there is a risk that the camera will catch any imperfections or stains that you might not be able to remove. Also the gloss of the paint might cause unwanted glare or shadow. Lastly, while a plain wall forces the viewer to focus on you, perhaps it might be too boring! Consider using a coloured wall, a custom backdrop or a “live background” such as an office setting, as long as it doesn’t distract from the main subject of the video!
Overview of production steps
Step 1 – Set objectives
Similar to creating any type of content, you should have a good idea of what you want your video to achieve. For example, try to answer the following questions:
- What stage of the journey are you targeting?
- What do you want to tell your audience?
- What do you want your audience to learn?
- What do you want your audience to do after they watch the video?
- How do you want your partner to feel after they watch the video?
Step 2 – Conceptualize your video and decide on a video type
Working with the answers your obtained from Step 1, think about how your video might look like and what its flow might be.
Of course your decision needs to consider your abilities, availabilities, access to financial resources and equipment and other “operational” requirements. A production that requires multiple cameras, people, as well as special effects, for example will require a lot more planning, management, time and money, compared to a simple face-to-camera vlog.
Step 3 – Write screenplay
Now comes the time to write your screenplay. While the term screenplay might sound intimidating – when it comes to those productions that are not for film and television, you can use a more simple dual-column script – this is a 2-column table with the video instructions (i.e. what is to be seen by the audience) on one side and the audio instructions (what is to be heard by the audience) on the other. As an example, take a look at the screenplay for a short animation that I created.
In summary, the video instructions describe what the audience will see. Provide as much detail as necessary to communicate how you want your video to appear. Imagine that you are a video editor who wasn’t part of any prior conversations and receives these instructions. How much information would you need to have to create the visuals that match the creator’s vision?
The audio instructions contain information about the dialogue, music, sound-bytes and any other audio-based components.
- For audio that is part of the dialogue, use sentence case
- For audio that is not part of the dialogue, use all caps.
This convention makes it easier to distinguish the dialogue from the other audio instructions.
For the non-dialogue audio, and similar for the video instructions, provide as much detail as necessary to communicate how you want your video to sound.
Synchronizing the video and audio instructions
Each time you update the video instructions, create a new row in your dual-column script. For example, if you are delivering a 45-second vlog and have corresponding text overlays, create a new row each time you wish to instruct the display of the new overlay.
In the audio instructions column, divide the narration text among the two rows so that the second row contains the narration that would occur when the new overlay is displayed.
And remember to consider your timing – as a guideline, a script of 300 words spoken non-stop at a moderate pace (that is, without long pauses for music or animations), takes about 2 minutes.
Also consider your script’s writing style – is it conversational or formal? Is it light-hearted or serious? Is that style appropriate for the type of audience you are looking to communicate with?
Step 4 – Prepare and rehearse your lines
Even if you are reading from a teleprompter, or aren’t appearing in the video at all, it’s always a good idea to prepare and rehearse your lines. While today’s technology allows you to carry out amazing edits, such work takes time – the more flawless you can make your delivery, the less time you’ll spend in the editing room, and the more time you’ll have for other activities.
Step 5 – Record video
Ensure you have enough memory in your SD card!
There’s nothing more annoying than getting an “SD card full” message when you’re recording. The amount of storage requires depends on:
- how much recording time you need
- the recording speed (i.e. Mbps)
- the recording resolution
And of course, you need to consider any existing content. Even if your final video is 90 seconds long, you might need 10-20 minutes of recording time if you carry out long or multiple takes without erasing.
Check your camera’s user guide for recommendations.
Test the lighting and sound
When the time comes to record your video, first test the lighting and sound to ensure that the ensure that your equipment is working as expected and that the quality of your recording is optimized. Optimize the layout of any props and backdrop. Make any adjustments as necessary.
Pause while looking into the camera for a second or two before starting and after ending
At the beginning of a take, look into the camera for a second or two before starting; at the end of a take, look into the camera for a second or two before getting up. This practice calms your nerves but also provides you with opportunities to edit the video appropriately.
The same thing applies If you make a mistake when saying your lines – don’t restart right away – instead: reposition yourself, breathe, look into the camera for a second or two, and then restart.
Identify your takes for easy identification during editing
A “take” is a recording of a performance from when the camera starts recording to when it stops. If you find yourself redoing the same take repeatedly, consider identifying your takes by displaying the take number to the camera before speaking. Just be sure to hide it from view once you’re done!
Working alone? Consider one long take
If you are recording the video by yourself, it might make more sense to record with one long take as opposed to getting up each time to turn off the camera.
Make sound-and video synchronization easier with a clapperboard
If you ever watched a movie or TV show where the scene itself involved filming a movie, you might have asked yourself what those black-and white contraptions were, whose hinged pieces were “clapped” together each time the director would yell “action!”.
Those are called “clapperboards”, and the clapping sound served to help video editors synchronize the video and sound, to prevent XX.
If you are using “double system” mode to record your video – where you need to combine your separate video and sound files together during editing, the sound of the clapperboard will help you synchronize these two components more easily.
Of course you don’t need an actual clapperboard – you can slap a ruler or other hard, flat object on a hard surface (such has a hardcover book) instead.
Step 6 – Edit
There are so many things you can do when it comes to video editing, and editing by itself should be considered a skill or artform that takes time, practice, trials and errors.
There are a lot of video editing tools out there, but in general they all work the same way. Your workspace is organized into multiple channels:
- A visual channel, where you work on the visual component of your video – including recorded video and images
- An audio channel, where you work on the audio component of your video – including recorded dialog, sound effects, and background music
- An overlay channel, where you edit visual overlays – these are static words or visuals that are displayed on-screen, while the main video is playing
In general, you edit your video by
- Adding the video and sound components that you wish to include in your video
- Synchronizing the video and sound components together
- Removing the video and sound components that you do not wish to have
- Adding and visuals and overlays where desired
Once you have finished editing your video, be sure to save your final edit in a video format supported by online and installed video players. The more common formats include:
Step 7 – Upload and broadcast
Once your video is ready, make it available for everyone to see!
- Your Website
- Your company’s YouTube and/or Vimeo channel
- Your company’s LinkedIn page
Get started with vlogs!
Video is a great way to communicate your message in a fun-to-consume way that engages the eyes and ears of your audience.
Hopefully this article wasn’t too intimidating! If you’ve never created a vlog before, the process might appear to be daunting, but definitely give it a try and have fun with it. Who knows – you might become the next big thing in your industry!