If your videos aren’t meeting your expectations, or you’re struggling with the video production process, you may be making one (or more) of these common mistakes made by video creators.
There are seven common mistakes or traps that video creators often fall into. However, once you know what they are, they’re easy to avoid!
Matt Pierce, TechSmith’s Learning and Video Ambassador, walks you through his 7 deadly sins of video creation and shares his advice for how to best avoid them, so you can make better videos.
You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…
1. Not getting to know your video recording equipment
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of making a video and just start shooting. But taking the time to understand what your equipment can do makes a world of difference to the final product.
Think about your microphone, for example, how does it best pick up sound? You could be talking into it completely the wrong way and then be left wondering why your audio isn’t great.
You don’t necessarily have to master it all but knowing the basic ins and outs of how your equipment works can help limit issues in the long run.
One of the most common issues when it comes to using cameras is focus. Whether you’re using a phone camera, a web camera, or a camera that’s more high-end, understanding autofocus is very important. When your camera isn’t focused on the correct spot, i.e. your face, if you’re talking to camera, it can reduce the quality of your entire video and be distracting for your audience. So, knowing how to stop this from happening comes from getting to know your equipment.
There’s not much you can do to fix these kinds of issues from an editing perspective, so you may have to rerecord your videos. In most cases, this won’t be the end of the world. But if you’ve only got one shot to record, you don’t want poor preparation to stand in the way of a great video!
Matt also encourages you to be wary of using too much equipment. While more equipment can give you new opportunities for your videos, it will complicate your production – not just in shooting, but in editing too.
So, walk before you run. Get to know your existing equipment inside out first. Perhaps it already does the things you want new equipment for! Once you feel like you’ve fully mastered what you’re using, then you can start to add new elements if they’re necessary.
To learn more about your equipment, Matt’s advice is to play with it! Go into the settings and work out what it can do. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the menus and look up anything you’re not sure about.
2. Thinking you’ll fix your video “in post”
There’s a huge myth in video creation that you can fix shooting issues in post-production, otherwise known as the editing stage.
People fall into the trap of shooting footage that isn’t quite right and think that some editing will absolve them of their sins…but this is rarely ever the case.
There are some things that are fixable in post. If you’ve said a wrong word, for example, you can add a call-out and make it clear what you’re talking about. However, many errors simply aren’t fixable for most of us.
To avoid this trap, Matt advises thinking carefully about your video before you shoot it. Pay attention to your equipment and check that things like the audio, lighting, and framing are all suitable as these are almost impossible to fix later on.
Things Matt suggests looking out for in particular include:
- Loud or inconsistent audio
- Shaky camera footage
- Poor lighting
- Background distractions
- Consistency between multiple shots
3. Failing to frame subjects correctly
Framing is easily overlooked. Point your camera at your subject, and you’re good to go – right? But how you frame your subject communicates meaning. The number one thing any video creator should understand about framing is the rule of thirds.
This simple rule gives video creators direction for how to frame their subject effectively. Take a look at the screenshot below. The image is broken up into three columns and three rows (thirds).
Imagine if the person was sat in the middle third – the image wouldn’t look so dramatic. By placing them in the left third, it tells more of a story and makes the image more compelling.
Most cameras allow you to switch on a grid set up like this, so you can quickly frame your subjects in a more interesting way.
You can also apply the rule of thirds to screencasts. Often, there’s a lot to focus on in a screencast and it can be overwhelming for your audience. By using the rule of thirds, you can draw your audience’s eye to where it needs to be.
You may still need to add extra effects such as cursors, arrows, or highlights, but framing your screen correctly is automatically going to give your audience more clarity.
There’s lots more to learn about framing, so if you’re interested, check out our Basics: Setting Up to Shoot Video course.
4. Not lighting your videos effectively
Good lighting is essential to any video. If your subject isn’t lit well enough or your video is too dark, the end result may appear grainy. This mistake can drastically reduce the overall quality of your video.
It’s often not enough to rely on natural light as it changes all of the time. So, Matt recommends investing in some lights. This way, you have consistent control over it and can improve your video’s final look.
Lighting can change the entire dynamic of your video. Similar to framing, small adjustments can communicate big things. If you want a more dramatic look, for example, you could include bright lights, or if you want something less intense, you could use softer lighting.
Three-point lighting is a quick way to improve how your video subjects are lit. This lighting style is a straightforward way to avoid any lighting issues and get a professional-looking result. It involves using a backlight, a key light, and a fill light to separate your subject from the background and remove any problematic shadows.
Our TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Lighting Your Video, is packed full of practical tips on how to light your videos, including how to troubleshoot any other common lighting issues you may have.
5. Ignoring the importance of audio
Audio is arguably the most important part of your video. TechSmith’s research has shown that people will stop watching videos if the audio quality is bad. It’s why we always advise investing in a good audio setup before anything else.
First, check that you understand how your microphone works. Are you using it correctly? Is it set up to record you properly? If you’re recording a screencast, is the microphone volume correct?
Next, notice what sounds are present in your environment. If other noises interfere with your audio recording, it may affect how crisp and clean the final product sounds. Things like echoes, street noise, or notification noises aren’t always easy to clean up in the editing process, so try to eliminate them at the recording stage.
If you want to add extra elements into your video’s audio experience, such as music, really think about if it’s right for your video. Then pay close attention to how loud it is and if the style suits your video.
Finally, when you are in the editing stage, be wary of cleaning up your audio too much. You don’t want to sound like you’re in a tin can or underwater! Over-processing the audio can be just as damaging to your video as recording bad audio in the first place.
6. Not maintaining a good pace
Keeping your video moving is key to maintaining your audience’s attention. To do this, think about the different shots you can use or features you can bring into your video to make it more dynamic.
If you watch the video version of this post, for example, you’ll see that Matt uses slides and other videos to break up his shot. It could have been a one-hour video of Matt talking direct to a camera, but this lack of variety may have made the audience switch off.
B-roll, or secondary footage, is a great way to change the pace of your video. This encourages your audience to focus as new things appear on the screen and demand their attention. But that’s not all.
B-roll is also an excellent device for any video creator who needs to cover up a mistake. Say you need to include an extra shot or add in some footage. You can use B-roll to bridge the gap or cover the cut.
There are plenty of resources out there for finding B-roll, including TechSmith Assets for Camtasia. But Matt cautions to only use B-roll when it adds value to your video. These extra elements should increase your audience’s understanding and reinforce your messages. So, he encourages you to be intentional with your B-roll choices.
7. Not shooting and editing with the end in mind
How often in your video creation process do you think about what your finished video will look like? It’s easy to get caught up in making the video and lose sight of the end product.
The best way to stay on track is to lead with a strong plan. At TechSmith, we’re advocates for using storyboards and scripts to guide each part of the video creation process. These tools are like a map leading you to that final destination and are similar to a checklist. They help you record exactly what you need, so you don’t miss anything or end up with too much unnecessary footage.
It can be tempting to include more than you need if you have surplus footage but remind yourself of your video’s purpose. A script or storyboard can give you permission to cut anything extra and keep your video focused on achieving its goal.
If you’ve never written a script before or are intimidated by the idea of storyboarding – we can help! Our TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Writing and Using Scripts, breaks down everything you need to know about approaching scriptwriting and gives you some key tips to get started.
So, those are the 7 (not-so) deadly sins of video creation. If you’ve been making any of these mistakes, take the time to learn a little bit more about what you can do about them.
There are plenty of free resources in the TechSmith Academy that share even more tips and advice for leveling up your skills in each part of the video creation process. Or you can check out our YouTube videos or blog posts for even more free information!