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Filming your best self during Covid-19

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Even during Covid-19, it’s important for brands to have a voice. Not just internally to their employees (although that is incredibly important) but to their consumers, suppliers and wider industry.

Most brands are simply not set up to create content in-house, making this period extra challenging. Filming yourself from the comfort of your own home and creating something that does your brand justice may seem like an impossible task. There are, however, some simple guidelines you can follow to give yourself the best possible chance of creating content worthy of your brand making it possible for everyone to become an ambassador.

For this article we’ve adapted a list of tips we’ve used on projects requiring “User Generated Content” or UGC. These types of projects might involve publicly submitted questions that can be edited into the rest of the video.

Some of the public submissions were unusable because of the way people filmed themselves, which is a shame because what the person said and how they delivered their part was great and on point.

These same tips can be used for creating in-house content, updating shareholders or just looking your best on your next Zoom call or Webinar.

1. Record in the highest possible resolution

On iOS (Settings / Camera / Record Video / 4k at 60FPS)

On Android (Camera App / Settings / Video Size or Video Quality / 4K or 3840x2160 (16:9)

2. Horizontal or Portrait

Be aware for which channel you’re filming. Where will your video ultimately be shown? Most online platforms prefer horizontal (landscape) videos.

One notable exception is TikTok and Instagram Stories. Facebook is also comfortable with either horizontal or vertical videos. Most other platforms will display your video in a horizontal format.

If you’ve filmed vertically and posted your video on a website or YouTube for example, you’ll get those wide black stripes on either side of your video. Not only does this look unprofessional, but you’ve wasted valuable video real estate.

3. Keep it short

Shorter is always better. No matter how great an orator you are, your message should be under 2 minutes. The average internet user struggles to watch the first 3 seconds of a video before they hit skip. Those annoying ads that make you watch the full 15 or 30 seconds are unbearable. Keep that in mind whilst you’re editing what you want to say.

Here’s another helpful tip for duration: if you have to write your own script, a good rule of thumb is that 150 words is equivalent to 1 minute of screen-time if you’re reading at a steady pace.

4. Keep it steady

A tripod is best, or position your camera on a flat surface where you can have it lean against something.

Another option if you have a helping hand conveniently nearby is to have someone else film you with their steady hand. Holding the camera yourself should be your last option.

5. Close ups

Ideally, your video should capture your head and shoulders or from the waist up. If you’re capturing your entire body, you’re too far away from the camera. At that point, the video becomes much more about what you’re doing rather than what you’re saying.

As much as possible keep the camera at eye-level so you're not looking up or down into the frame. You want to avoid the viewer seeing up your nose or giving yourself a double chin.

6. Location Location Location

Everyone knows you’re working from home. You don’t have to make your background look like a corporate environment. A casual living room setting or in front of a bookshelf or nice artwork will help make your message more personal and relatable.

You could be outdoors next to landmarks that demonstrate what city you're in; somewhere scenic or just somewhere surprising and funny. Take into account what your local lockdown rules allow.

7. Rule of Thirds

Try not to stand in the very centre of the frame. Off to one side makes for a far better composition.

If you’re standing off to the left of the frame, make sure to angle your body slightly so that you’re facing back towards the centre of the frame (and vice versa if you’re standing to the right side of the frame).

8. Lots of light

Wherever you choose to shoot your video make sure there’s plenty of light.

If you’re filming indoors, make sure that windows (or other strong light sources) are not behind you or your face will be in darkness. The cameras in laptops and phones have a hard time compensating to light your face if there’s a strong light source behind you.

If you do have some directional lamps, they can be used to great effect by combining a few. Experiment with the angle (ideally hitting your face on a slight angle rather than front on), and the distance from your face (to adjust the intensity of the light and to avoid a bright white spot).

If you don't have lights then your best bet is to face a window (at a slight angle), at a time of day when it's bright outside, but not direct sun streaming through the window.

If you’re outside, morning or evening shots will be more flattering than the mid-day sun. If the sun is gentle, you can film whilst facing into the light so you’re well lit. We don’t recommend shooting in very bright sunlight as you’ll either be squinting (by facing the sun) or in darkness (with the sun behind you).

9. Volume please

Perhaps the biggest giveaway for content produced in-house is the sound quality. This can be difficult to control particularly for outdoor shoots. Wherever possible, avoid areas with background noises like traffic, crowds, music etc.

The mic on your phone or laptop should be used as a last resort. Sound is one area where you might want to invest in some basic equipment. There are dozens of inexpensive microphones on Amazon that will considerably improve the professional sound of your video. The mic on your noise cancelling headphones is a great option if you don’t want to buy something new.

10. Wardrobe choices

Avoid stripes or detailed patterns as that can cause the video to strobe (flicker). They’re also just really distracting from the viewer. You want them to concentrate on what you’re saying – not your shirt…

By following these tips, you should see a big improvement on the quality of your self-filmed video.

Next steps, learn how to edit them all together! Or ask us to help.

Let us know how your UGC video filming goes and what worked for you.

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