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6 Steps to Prepare for a Video Shoot and Make Great Video

How do you prepare for a video shoot? Good preparation makes great video. Use this six-step pre-flight checklist so everything goes off without a hitch.
 
By
Stever Robbins,
Episode #565
shooting a video

How do you prepare for a video shoot? Solid prep is the key to making videos people can actually bear to watch.

Bernice, the owner of Green Growing Things plant stores, has decided to make videos. She and her fiancé, Melvin, are looking forward to their wedding. She's determined to create a video series for their guests. She wants the guests to know exactly, precisely how to behave. (One person's micro-managing is, as they say, another person's perfect wedding.)

Video always takes a lot longer than you think it will. And it's more complicated.

Being an action-oriented executive, she just turned on her webcam and started recording. Fifteen minutes later, she played it back only to discover, to her horror, that it's incoherent. The sound is tinny and unflattering. Her skin looks pasty white, and that false eyelash malfunction should never, ever have been caught on tape. She's at her therapist's office working through it right now.

Whether you're doing a webinar, a recorded video, or a videoconference, you can use a simple pre-flight checklist to avoid some of the most common mistakes that make video … less than compelling.

1. Budget enough time

In an ideal world, a five-minute video takes five minutes to produce.

That's so, so cute. In the real world, a five-minute video takes hours to produce. When you're planning for any presentation, meeting, or recording that uses technology, be sure to schedule 15–30 minutes beforehand to set up and double-check that everything's working. The one time you forget to check is the one time everything will fail the instant you go live. Budget enough time to run the tests, and enough time to fix things when—not if—they don't work.

The one time you forget to check is the one time everything will fail the instant you go live.

Even if you plan to use a video completely unedited, schedule enough time afterward for downloading and uploading video files, saving them to the right place on servers, and so on.

Every week my Get-It-Done Group records our weekly hour-long community call on Zoom. When we're done, it's a simple matter of downloading the recording, uploading it to the community web site, and sending an email and Slack message that it's available for viewing. Simple, yes. And it takes about 15–30 minutes.

Plan enough time for setup, testing, your actual video time, and cleanup.

2. Outline your talk

We ramble when we make conversation face-to-face. In-person, this works. Mostly. But on video, it's much less compelling.

I was watching a YouTube video about how to use a Light Whip (thank you, Jon Fillmore) and the young person explaining it thought it would be entertaining to ramble. It was not. It was agonizing.

Make sure you know your topics, the order you'll address them, and the major points you'll make.

Hint to young people: the more time you spend rambling, the sooner you'll be over 30, which you may consider a fate worse than death. So outline your talk before you give it. You don't need a word-for-word script, but make sure you know your topics, the order you'll address them, and the major points you'll make.

3. Face reality

Your face is beautiful. It's gorgeous. You're the living embodiment of facial perfection.

Unfortunately, the camera doesn't care. And the camera, which longs to take over the world and assume its rightful place as overlord of all humans, will do its best to make you look awful. We must fight back.

The Emmy-award-winning reality TV star author of Fearless Living, master life coach Rhonda Britten watched one of my videos. Being a loving, caring life coach, she called me and said, "Your eyebrows look like crap on video. Use an eyebrow pencil."

When I was 18, I had beautiful, thick, amazing brown eyebrows. That was then, this is now. Now, I have beautiful, thick, amazing brown eyebrow pencils.

Make your eyebrows visible. Trim your beard, if you have one. You might use a tiny, subtle touch of eyeliner to bring out your eyes. Those false eyelashes that look so enticing at the makeup counter? Unless you're a beauty vlogger, be careful not to overdo it. Bernice found out the hard way. Don't make her mistake.

4. Test your tech

Now make sure your tech is actually working. Fire up your camera and microphone and make sure your computer detects them.

Do this using the exact program you'll use for recording or videoconferencing. Not all programs work with all devices. Go to your program's video and audio setup screens (they're usually somewhere in Preferences). You'll find a preview that will let you see how you look.

5. Tweak your tech

You look beautiful in the mirror. Now, make sure you look equally gorgeous in the software.

One of the most essential adjustments is white balance. It determines how blue or yellow your image is. Depending on your lighting—natural sunlight, fluorescent, incandescent—your video will end up with a particular color tint. Adjust the white balance so that whites actually look white, not blue or yellow. That will help correct all your colors.

You look beautiful in the mirror. Now, make sure you look equally gorgeous in the software.

Also adjust your exposure, brightness, and contrast so that the image is bright enough to be seen, but not so bright that the highlights blow out the image.

How you make these adjustments depends on your webcam and the software you use. Not all webcams support all these adjustments, and not all give you an easy way to make them.

I using a Logitech C910 webcam on a Mac, with the program iGlasses. The C910 can make all those adjustments, and the iGlasses software provides a control panel that works in every app. Except for Facetime. (Apple, if you're listening, fix this. Now.)

6. Post-produce

When you record a webinar for posterity, plan editing time afterward. When your false eyelash falls off (to be fair, Bernice had never applied them before and thought Elmer's Glue would work), you want to edit out the part where you shriek at the top of your lungs and dive after it before it hits the top of the wedding cake.

You can edit out awkward parts, add title screens and credits, and clean up the video so it's more presentable.

Use an editor like Mac OS X Final Cut Pro, Wondershare Filmora, or Camtasia. You can edit out awkward parts, add title screens and credits, and clean up the video so it's more presentable. Video is trickier to edit than audio. With audio, you can remove and insert portions, and no one can tell from listening. With video, removing and inserting causes jumps in the image.

If you're under 25 and going for a jumpy, ADHD editing style, this is fine. However, if you don't want to trigger an epileptic seizure in your wedding guests, insert a fade transition of 1–2 seconds at the edit point. It's not perfect, but it will give you a chance to edit out the eyebrow malfunction.

Video always takes a lot longer than you think it will. And it's more complicated. But by following these 6 steps, you'll go a long way towards making everything work, and work well, the first time.

Bernice has abandoned the fake eyelashes. Now, she's addressing the camera with a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eye.

"Beloved wedding guests, friends, and family, thank you for sharing this special day with Melvin and me. To make sure we all have a good time, I'd like to share 27 behavioral guidelines for proper wedding etiquette."

This wedding is going to be … interesting.

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I'm Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. If you lead an organization, you think big, and you plan to change the world, I can help you organize your life to make bigger things possible without getting overwhelmed. Learn more at SteverRobbins.com. Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox—subscribe to the Get-It-Done Guy newsletter. And, of course, listen and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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