How Should Your Video Look?

When story and a general style are set, there are still many, many other decisions left to be made. These will more often than not be made by the video producer, or on a bigger production, the director and their director of photography (who decides where cameras and lights should be).

This level of decision making may not interest everyone, but knowing about it can help you communicate what you want more easily to the person making your video, so it’s worth knowing in brief.

First, the light used in your video makes a big difference, but more light means more time setting up. Why would you need more light? A camera thrives on light, so it’s actually better to have too much and work backwards than compensate for limited light.

If time is limited, shooting outdoors can be much quicker and simpler, and everything looks great in sunlight. Shooting during the day in a well lit room can similarly be a quicker process. At night lots of light will have to be used, so expect some additional setting up time.

Light is the most important element in creating the look of your video, so if you can tell the producer what look you want, they can build the light setup to suit. If you want a natural look, for example, then natural light is best, but a very stylised look might use artificial light, or manipulation of sunlight. Consider whether night or day is the look you want too.

At ‘Feeding the 5,000’ natural light and a moving camera gave the right look and feel

Colour can also help communicate, and your video producer will be able to use subtle techniques to add warmth, or cool down the video. A hint of blue makes things look colder, more calming and gives a slight corporate sheen, which can make things look professional.

Some red, yellow or orange adds warmth and/or passion, and can give a friendly look, which can be good for an interview or piece spoken to camera. You can even contrast the two looks, use the rules to make odd effects or overdo the colour to make something unique.

It gets quite complicated, and movies have people dedicated solely to colouring them, so it takes some skill to get it right, but with a little thought about the words used above – warm, cool, etc. you might have some ideas about what you want your video to say to your viewer about you and your business.

Camera angle and movement can make a big difference too. Do you want to speak directly to the camera or off to the side, close up or wide? There are reasons for everything, and a producer/director makes hundreds of choices on a set or location and while planning that decide how things look. They need to know what you want to help them make those decisions.

There are some simple rules about camera movement worth knowing to help with that. A static shot, where the camera doesn’t move, looks professional and won’t cause the viewer to be distracted.

A moving camera, when done right, can add energy and excitement, giving a very different feel. Now you may think it sounds great to add energy to everything, but it doesn’t quite work that way. A product shot, for example, requires all focus on the product, not on the slight movements of the camera – although it depends on the product, sometimes it works.

Thinking about light, colour and the camera, as I said, might be more than you want or have time to do, but if you understand the basics it can really help you communicate what you’re looking for to the video producer and improve the final product.

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