We’ve all heard the phrase “bigger is better.” Unfortunately this adage has gotten tossed to the curb in recent years as technology becomes sleeker, faster, smaller, and more widely adopted by the general public. It shouldn’t be any secret that video marketing is a must in every marketer’s toolbox, and, like the technology itself, videos have gotten smaller as well. A great example of this is the recent rush from social media giants such as Instagram releasing short, easily digestible video sharing capabilities. These videos are short (15 seconds or less), easy to shoot, and can be distributed to your followers in an instant. With Instagram boasting over 80 million registered users, videos such as these can be a great way to gain exposure for your brand, and set yourself apart from your competition.
Assuming you already have some idea about what your subject matter could be, I want to share some tips that will take your Instagram video to the next level.
Tip 1. Use light! Light is literally the essence of photos and videos. Without it we would have a lot of dark and grainy images. You don’t need an expensive light kit to get great results. Utilize what you have access to already – a desk lamp, shoot near a window, use the sun if you’re outside, reposition a reading light, you get the idea. Light can help eliminate unwanted shadows on faces, provide us with depth and perspective, and give us a sense of time. Use it to your advantage!
Tip 2. Get good quality sound. You don’t need a professional microphone to get good audio. Most mobile devices will pick up decent quality audio close to them. If you’re shooting something a landscape use the microphone to pick up ambient noise, or use it to describe the shot to viewers. Tell them about what they’re seeing. A good way to think about audio is this: if you don’t have the video to accompany it, what would a listener think of? If you’re shooting a beach and want to have viewers sold on the idea you need some beach noises – waves, a crowd perhaps, seagulls, those funny barge horns, etc. Are you shooting video of a sleeping pet? Quietly narrate to the audience what is happening and try to get some cute pet snores. Make sense? Audio is a huge part of video, so don’t skimp on it!
Tip 3. Show depth. This ties into lighting, but it deserves its own category. Projecting our video on a screen means the audience is only seeing 2 dimensions. This means that as the shooter it is your job to provide them with depth. You don’t need to overdo this, but look at linear perspectives when you’re shooting. Does your subject stand out from the background? If not try repositioning so that there is more space behind him or her. An easy way to do this inside is to shoot down a hallway, into a corner, or with your subject as far from a wall as possible. Is your subject the background? Give the audience something to show perspective – a plant in the foreground, or a person within the shot. Instagram has some filters that can really make things ‘pop’ visually, so play around and see what works for your video. We don’t have the luxury of that 3rd dimension, so you need to create it.
Tip 4. Create movement. There are two kinds of movement we can have within Instagram video. The first is in which our subject is providing the movement on screen. Picture a shot of a university campus with students walking everywhere. This is movement happening within the shot. It gives us something visual to look at. The second type is when you move the camera to create movement. Imagine a student sitting down studying at a desk. Pretty boring, right? Add a bit of movement by sliding the camera slightly to the right to reveal an entire library behind the student as she studies. Now we have something visual to look at, and have created depth at the same time.
Tip 5. Be creative with your shots! People love point-of-view (POV) shots that show them something that they might not have the chance to see themselves. Use your video to give them a first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at something that is perhaps commonplace in your organization. Immerse them in the environment you’re shooting – make them feel like they are actually there. Utilize the 4th dimension – time! Consider creating a fun stop-motion video that allows viewers to see something that can’t be portrayed within your allotted 15 seconds. Stop-motion videos are tough to pull off, but are immensely popular. Give them an extreme closeup of something. Most camera-phones have great macro (closeup) modes, and you can show them something that perhaps they wouldn’t have the time to look at, or the ability to see otherwise. You could even give them several closeups and ask them to guess what each is.
In closing, be creative! These tips are just that – tips. They’re not immutable laws (well, needing light to capture an image kind of is), rather they’re tips to help you step up your game and give you some new things to practice. You don’t need to try all of them at once, but on your next video try adding some light, or some movement, and see what you think. Experiment each time you shoot a video and see what works.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about shooting videos, video marketing, or if you just want to send me a good recipe. Thanks for reading! Happy shooting!