Creating an 'About Us' video for your company's website with your iPhone 4S is finally within reach. But is it a good idea?
With quality, affordable equipment and free hosting sites widely available today, self-made video is possible for most laypeople, creating what professional videographers deem an inflated sense of confidence.
The biggest issues lie perfecting the elements of a good video and telling a compelling story: having solid scripts, getting good and interesting shots, finding articulate people who are comfortable on-camera if the script calls for it, good lighting and ensuring clear audio, says Angie Helton, president of Northeast Media Associates, a multi-media public relations firm in Portland, Maine, who was hired by the FBI in 2011 to produce a public service announcement that help catch the infamous James "Whitey" Bulger, one of the FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted' fugitives.
It Eats Up Time, Resources
What you save in dollars by producing it yourself, you spend in time trying to learn the editing software, on-camera presentation skills, and the role that light, clear audio and a well-thought out script play in the success of a quality production, Helton says.
It's More Than Tools
While no harm lies in personal video production, experts warn that there's more to professional production than the tools themselves and not to stake your company's reputation on them.
"You can get a good HD camera today with a pretty good editing system for a reasonable price," says Jason Nelson of Black Fly Media, a high definition video production firm based in Portland, Maine. Nelson's partner, Charlie Berg, was hired by Northeast Media Associates to help edit the Whitey Bulger video. "But the problem lies in lacking the skills to tell the story well."
Storytelling through video is both an art and skill that comes with experience, says Nelson.
"If you're going to showcase your company, it can be a real challenge to do it right on your own without looking like an amateur," says Nelson.
Another issue that Helton notes is that it's really hard to keep it short and to the point, while making it interesting.
"A minute, thirty seconds to two minutes is all you need per video," says Helton. "If it goes beyond that, you really should have separate ones."
Using a Reputable Host
Nelson also warns that if you use any free video hosting service other than the big ones (YouTube and Vimeo) you'll run the risk of the web company going under along with all your video files, something that has happened to him in the past. YouTube is free, offers a lot of space and is connected to Google, which means that search engines will find your video sooner. YouTube is also the second largest search engine. Vimeo offers a generous free product and a paid (ad-free) upgrade for more space and features.
If you have someone on staff that you feel could handle the production, or if you're willing to invest the time and money for training, Helton has the following tips:
- Stay very brief (under two minutes per video)
- Use short, declarative sentences in your script, no large words
- Stick with YouTube or Vimeo as a host
- Decide what your messages are long before you shoot
- Have just three to four major points
- Try using customer testimonials: tape your customers saying what they like about doing business with you
"In the end, I don't think the benefits of self-production will outweigh the cost and time for most companies," Helton says.
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