5 ways to make a great video on a low budget

Last year, I wrote a blogpost called ‘don’t overcook your videos’. My point in that post was that there’s no sense in investing a ton of blood, sweat and tears into a video when modern technology lets us produce some really solid video on a shoestring budget.

It seems like Tower Insurance took my advice a bit too literally in the video in this tweet:

Yikes.

First of all, I don’t want to be too harsh to the people in this video. Good for them for putting themselves out there and having some enthusiasm about their work!

But, there are a lot of little things they could have done to make this video a lot better.

Improvement #1: captions!

A good rule of the thumb is to always caption videos on social media. After all, think of your audience: they’re scrolling through a feed on their phone, often without headphones plugged in. Captioning a video makes it easier for people to watch, without going through the additional step of plugging their headphones in.

It’s pretty easy to do. Just takes 10 or 15 minutes with affordable ($90/year) software like WeVideo.

Improvement #2: Make sure people can hear you

Another issue with this video is that it is very hard to make out what they’re saying. If they have a message (more on that down the bottom), I can’t tell what it is, because they’re rapping on the other side of a large, echoey room.

So when you’re filming shell out $60 on a wireless lapel mic from Mighty Ape. It’s a pretty small investment to make sure people can actually hear what you’re saying in your videos. And if you don’t have the budget for that, just get in nice and close, and let your phone take care of it.

Improvement #3 - get rid of the clutter

The focus of this video is two people rapping. So there’s really no need for anything else in the shot - certainly not the giant monitor in the background! I’m sure there’s a neutral wall somewhere nearby; they should have the two rappers stand in front of that wall, rather than in front of a giant, distracting monitor.

Same goes for the bluetooth speaker, the whiteboard marker and the can of drink (?!). Be a tidy Kiwi. Get all that rubbish out of the shot.

Improvement #4 - get that camera higher!

You really want to do these videos from shoulder height. That serves two purposes: it puts the subject in a more natural position (looking at you), and it helps you with step 3 - removing clutter.

This video has been done by propping the camera up on the table, so it’s looking up at the subjects from across the room. I suspect they did this because they didn’t have a way to keep it stable at shoulder height. Again, this is a very solvable problem for a very small investment. For $17, this phone tripod can be yours.

Improvement #5: The groundwork

This is arguably the most important. Whether you’re paying an agency $25,000 to shoot the glitziest video imaginable, or quickly shooting a video on your phone, you have to do the groundwork. This is where you ask questions like:

  • Who is the audience?

  • What do we want them to learn from this content?

  • What do we want them to do next?

In short, what is your message? Before you start any piece of content, you should know the answer to this question.

Maybe they did that groundwork for this video - but I kind of doubt it. I’m not sure what it’s about. Rewards for staff? Rewards for customers? What even is a reward? Part of that confusion is because I can’t hear the words, but part of it is because there’s not much clarity around what kind of message they’re trying to get across.

So if you want to do quick, rough videos, great! I’m a huge fan, because you can turn them around at lightning speed with a much smaller investment than a glitzy video would take. But make sure you cover off the basic points I mentioned here, and don’t be afraid to invest a little bit. These small steps have a huge positive impact on your final product, so they’re definitely worth taking.

Photo by Thomas Russell on Unsplash