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How To Make Your First Video

Portrait Of Female Videographer Holding Clapper Board On Video Film Production In White Studio

Have you ever imagined yourself as a movie star?  Or a filmmaker? I have. I was always curious about how things are done, and movies are no exception. Have you thought about how exciting this life could be? You could recreate yourself over and over again. And evolve. Speaking of evolution, this creative process would greatly enhance your growth. Not to mention that filmmaking skills are now in demand. And you know what? It’s actually fun to do!  Plus, making videos is a never-ending process, where you always challenge yourself. That’s what all artists have in common. A great artist will always push themself beyond limits to learn more about what they are truly capable of. Who knows what you can find out. Interested? Disclaimer: filmmaking is addictive!

Let’s get down to the facts.

  • 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool — up from 63% over the last year / HUBSPOT
  • Mobile video consumption rises by 100% every year. / Insivia
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. / CISCO
  • YouTube is the second most popular website after Google. / ALEXA

I think we all get it. Video is the best communication channel we have available now. And I can hear your thoughts. I understand that you are worried. “Me? Making a video? Nah, that will never work! I’m not the right person to be making films.” Sure, you are shy. I was shy too back in the days before I had to learn how to be more courageous. Yes, learn! People often think that the character is something they have little or no control over. In fact the reality is that our character comes,to a large degree, from our habits and experience. That’s a deep topic, so probably another workshop. For now, please remember one thing. You are not the fluid. You are the glass. You can replace the fluid and refill the glass. You are hardware. Not software. You can upgrade your system.

Introduction to filmmaking

If I was to give you only one piece of advice. I’d say – just do it. The end. You can go home now. Alright alright, let me tell you a bit more so you can avoid the most common mistakes and learn from my experience! How about this. Let’s go over a case study. Back in 2018 when I wanted to create a Kickstarter video for my startup, QUPI. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, where you can fund your product through the community. Honestly speaking, that was my first let’s say “business” video experience.

It was a little bit overwhelming because I had no experience. You can and probably should start with a smaller project as your first so that it will be less stressful and more joyful. The good thing about making videos is that it’s one of those disciplines that are easy to learn (yet hard to master). That means you can quickly benefit from it and achieve your goals with video!

PRE-PRODUCTION

Always start with pre-production. It’s a planning process that will save you a lot of headaches during the production and post-production stages.

Here is what you need to do:

Define your goal

Here is what I was supposed to do.

We needed a 2-3 minutes video to present the unique value of our web platform to backers (you can call them donors). That video should have convinced them to back the project. That was my goal, in this case – CTA: donate. Now, you need to define your goal for the video. Why do you want to shoot a video in the first place? What’s your message? 

Who is your target audience?

One step further you should define your target audience? That will easily translate to the style of your video. If your video is targeted to lawyers or insurance experts then most likely you want it to look professional. Just remember: professional doesn’t mean expensive. You don’t have to go to the nearest mall and buy a sleek camera.

What communication channel do you want to utilize?

Deciding on a communication channel can be vital. You would expect different content on YouTube and different on Tik Tok. In my case, I was supposed to promote my product on a crowdfunding platform. Ok, then what I had to do was to watch a few Kickstarter videos to find out about their style. I was ready to move on to the next stage.

Script and storyboard

Now you are ready to draft your script and – if you feel like doing it – a storyboard. This is the moment where you decide to either work with the script or trigger words or go with the flow. Trigger words serve you to quickly recall the subject you want to talk about. I agree that freestyle can sometimes be impressive but for everyone else, I’d recommend the trigger words option. It feels most natural to watch when someone owns their subject. Of course, if you are like me, creating an ad, then it’s just normal to stick to the script. With regard to a storyboard, you have to ask yourself whether you need it or not. The storyboard is like a comic book with low fidelity drawings that allow you to plan the scenes ahead. Especially camera angles.

Shooting schedule

That was the hardest part. At least, for me, because I had to book 8 people in different areas and book the places themselves. It was the Raczyńskich library, English Johnny’s cafe, a dorm room, and the Polanglo bookstore. Therefore, I had to make sure that the people I want will appear in a given location at a given time. For that reason, I’d recommend using the KANBAN project management method. I added everything to Trello. It’s a free-to-use platform that helps your projects succeed by giving you a bird-eye perspective every project manager needs. It’s useful for big and small projects. Ideal for your first video.

Equipment and lighting conditions

Last but not least, consider your equipment and on-site conditions. Will the location be bright enough to achieve the desired result? What can you do to achieve the given result? Can you substitute a professional lamp with a DIY source of light? At that time I had a not-so-professional Sony camera. Quite old fashion if you ask me. Some of today’s smartphones can deliver better quality. Although, not the tools but the skills are making a good creator. If you will shoot yourself only, then a cheap tripod would be nice to have. Alternatively, you can just set a bunch of books and put your camera or smartphone on top of them. Go on YouTube and search for “iPhone movie” or “smartphone movie”. Yes, it’s possible!

PRODUCTION

Final Diagnosis Film Crew

Ok, we are done with planning. Now, it’s time to take your project to the next level and it’s called Production. If you do it only by yourself then you shouldn’t experience many unexpected events. If you have to manage actors and staff then prepare for the adrenaline to kick in. Coming back to my Kickstarter video I had 3 shooting days in the schedule and 8 people who had to show up in different areas on time. We used the previously mentioned family Sony camera model and a couple of reflex panels that allow you to angle the light and direct to the chosen spot. It was a mad rush. I was the captain of the ship. But you will be on your ship and your sailors will wait for your commands.

TIP #1 Stay creative

Even if you had everything planned there is a good chance that you missed something or that on the set you will find a better solution. That’s why being creative is vital. Especially, if you are just beginning your video adventure. It may be sometimes time-consuming, but when we learn by doing we learn the same way as in our childhood. By being fascinated with the task at hand you quickly adapt and take ownership of the new skill.

TIP #2: Take it step by step

It’s better to decide on creating a small video and start shooting right away rather than endlessly planning a masterpiece and probably never have the guts to start. The time to scale up will come eventually. 

TIP #3: Avoid master shots

A master shot is usually a long shot that covers most of the action in one shot. That is extraordinarily difficult to record and you should make your work as easy as possible at the beginning of your filming experience. The time for challenges will surely come! For now, keep your recordings short and sweet.

TIP #4: Prepare the scene as best as possible

Believe me, it’s much easier to make sure that the scene is ready for the shot than fixing it in the Post-production later. Which is sometimes even impossible. Therefore focus on the key elements of your shot. The actors, the lighting, the props, and the sound. The actors and the props should be where you want them. The light is creating the whole ambiance of the scene, which makes it crucial. Lastly, make sure that you will have clean sound recorded. Cut-off any unnecessary noise. To fix it later it’s like hell. Really!

TIP #5: Stay cold-blooded

Remember the analogy about the ship at the beginning of this part? You are the director of your production. You know the best. You have to. If you will lose your temper or control over the set then no one will pick it up. You must be disciplined and goal-focused to reach a happy ending.

TIP #6: Have fun

That relates to my 1st recommendation. Please. PLEASE. Don’t forget to enjoy filming. It’s just one of these jobs that are really exciting. That Kickstarter video was my first business video ever and I admit that I was stressed, but I still had a lot of fun!

POST-PRODUCTION

L-R: Final Diagnosis Co-Producer, Hoyt Richards; Acting Coach, Jason Stone

Alright, breathe in, breathe out, and relax a bit. The hardest part is over. Time for the Post-production. Video editing is another skill you will have to possess. It may feel overwhelming at first, but after some time with the software of your choice, you will start enjoying it. You can start with Premiere Rush from Adobe. It’s a simplified editor that is completely free.

#1 Organize your files

You’ve got the material recorded and saved on the drive. If it’s still sitting on your memory card, please make a copy. A good practice is to organize your files in one place before editing so that you won’t waste time looking for them over and over again. You can put them in folders like Scene 1, Scene 2, or Cafe_Scene, Bridge_Scene. It has to be helpful to you.

#2 Choose the music

Another good practice is to start your video editing process with music research. That is if you want any music in there. The music background will often influence your editing style, so it’s good to make a decision upfront. Otherwise, if you decide on music later that may require you to go over your timeline and make many adjustments. Therefore, it is better to choose music earlier.

#3 Assembling your video

It is best to screen through all of your videos and quickly add them on your timeline. Create a sequence of video parts that you want to appear after one another. I like this part because you can see fast progress being made in the editing process.

#4 Put your video together

Time for the actual editing mode. Here’s where you adjust the fragments of your videos to match your expectations. Trim them down, stretch out, slow and speed up. Make it land well with the music too.

#5 Color grading

Another step is color grading. Here is where editing your video may get a little bit tricky. Fear no more. Simply focus on the skin tone as that’s most important in every video. It shouldn’t be oversaturated and should have the right tone. You can help yourself with this task by Googling “skin tone palette”. Then it’s all about matching the skin tone in your video to the closest color in the palette.

#6 Effects

In the next stage, you can focus on transitions and other special effects, like adding text and titles. Depending on a video here you can have very little to nothing to do or have plenty of work due to the style of your project.

#7 Mix the sound

Lastly, check out your sound. I highly recommend using the headphones as that’s the best way to catch noises and glitches. The effects I use the most for cleaning up audio are as follows:


Deverb – to flatten the vocal sound when you can hear it bouncing off the walls

Denoise – to remove all the hiss sounds

Vocal Enhancer – to enrich the speaker voice with extra tones

Note that I’m using Premiere Pro and not all the effects may be available in Premiere Rush.

Ok, you are good to go!. Now, add that video to a rendering queue, smash the export button, and make yourself a coffee. You deserved it!.

Last tips for a beginner filmmaker

A few last tips for you before we finish. Even if what you just learned may seem overwhelming to you, don’t overthink it. Just grab your phone or camera and record your first video as soon as possible. Learn from your mistakes. As I mentioned earlier video will be the best communication channel for the years to come. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. 

As soon as you get confident about your video skill I would recommend trying to go live. You can do this either on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. Live video is a hack for social media that will give you a massive boost in views. All your contacts will be notified about your live broadcast.

Experiment with the new formats that are coming to platforms like Facebook from time to time. For instance, 360 videos. You may find them preferred by Facebook and driving you more views. 

Then, and only then, if you run out of the free options and ideas for guerilla marketing consider paid promotion.

Time to hand over the baton. I’m confident that now you can take it from here, create your first video, and publish online. For inspiration, I recommend a great YouTuber, Peter McKinnon. Check him out and you will never have a problem with finding ideas.

The possibilities are endless and it’s all up to your creativity. Nowadays, like never before you can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people with your message. Whether you want a personal brand, self-improvement, online sales, or just a public conversation you can benefit from creating videos. The video will help you reach your goals.

Summary

a brief recap of what we’ve just learned. To shoot your first video you need a plan divided into 3 stages: Pre-production, Production, and Post-production.

Pre-production – is where you visualize your goal and create a project plan,

Production – is where you are hands-on with the camera on the set. You are also the director/captain on the ship,

Post-production – is where you relax your legs but employ your creativity once more to prepare a cut and polish it up.

Congratulations, you’ve just made your first video. Wasn’t that bad, was it?