Whether you are making a video blog, a wedding video, a documentary, a commercial, a tutorial, a short film, or a feature film, there are times you make a bad one. Here are a few tips that will make sure you are consistent in making a bad video every single time.
Shoot with the most expensive gear you can possibly rent or buy. Gear makes all the difference. If you can't afford it, use all your credit cards up to their limit. If the limit is low, increase it. Get into debt without any worries. It's inevitable to get rich when working as a filmmaker.
If you can't afford high-end cinema cameras, shoot with DSLRs, but keep in mind you have to always shoot scenes in high contrast. The highlights will be overexposed, but you will fix that in post as your software is so expensive that it ought to be able to get back highlights from an 8-bit compressed footage.
Do not bring backup gear unless you are using a cheap one. The expensive never breaks.
Light everything that's dark. Later you can add black bars and a Cine-Style plugin to make it look cinematic. Always keep your subjects with the sun in front of them, so you don't squinch while looking through the viewfinder or at the monitor. Squinching is OK for the models or actors.
If you don't have a kicker light, do not worry. You can always add a light flare in post.
Lighting everything flat gives you the creative freedom to add shadows whenever you want in post. Do not use a light meter, false color, zebra, or any other exposure indication than the screen in front of you. If you get fooled by the screen's brightness, you can always fix the footage in post.
The less you direct, the more random your storyline would be. You don't want a classic boring storyline. Keep everything interesting and unexpected by staying away from directing the scenes you are shooting. If you decide on directing or you are paid to direct a scene, be vague. Don't be specific, because this will limit the creativity of your actors.
Always yell at your subjects. This will keep their adrenaline high and that emotion will convey into the final footage.
Agree with every advice the people on set give. Be tolerant even if the idea is not acceptable. We have all the time in the world to try all ideas on set. Even if the take was bad, be positive. Don't ever talk about the mistakes you see. Make sure everything stays positive and full of hypocrisy regardless of the truth.
Do not obey any rules. Obeying rules is for the amateurs. If you are a pro, rules don't apply to you. They just limit your creativity. This includes old-school mantras such as:
- the 180-degree rule where you have to keep the camera on the same side of two people talking
- shooting consistently from left-to-right or right-to-left when making transitions that are meant to be cut one after another
Do not check your focus. If it's bad, you can always sharpen the image in post. Use 8K cameras just in case so you can lower the resolution to fix bad focus. Be sure to use variable focal length stills lenses on cinema camera when zooming. This has a camera-shake-like effect which you can't get that realistic in post by any means.
Stay away from camera's native ISO even if it's a bright sunny day. Make sure you always use the lowest ISO possible. Make sure you are using a green screen when actors are wearing green clothing. This way you will get better in VFX.
Keep the font of the teleprompter as small as possible. This will make the actors naturally squinch which will make them look better. Put the teleprompter as close as possible. You want to have movement in the eyes. You are shooting a motion picture after all.
Even if you don't know anything about audio, just dial all the knobs all the way up so you get more latitude in the audio data. You will fix everything that went wrong in post. If you can't afford a good microphone, a bad one, or even an internal mic, an expensive software for post-processing will work wonders.
Audio equipment is not as important as video recording one. You can go with the cheapest gear here. Make sure the boom gets in frame at least once or twice and do not cut that out of the final video. How would people see you own a professional piece of gear otherwise?
If you can explain things in a short way, don't do it. Make the explanation as long as you possibly can. Your tutorial needs to align two layers in Photoshop? Try first explaining how to re-order layers by drag-and-drop with a track-pad, mouse, on a phone screen, on a tablet screen, with a graphics tablet, on a PDA, and on a Nokia 3310.
Build suspense. Don't tell the core of the information right away on a tutorial video. Save the best for the end. Tell extra information in the video even if you have said it in another one. The next subscriber may be yours only because they found the information they've been looking for in this video.
Make frequent off-topic cuts like showing us your cat. Tell us more about it, we'd love to hear more. People have all day watching your video. They want to know more about your personal life alongside with the information they came to your video for.
Talk either very slow or very fast. Normal talking speed is overrated.
Always keep the length close to a semi-long feature film. The longer a video is, the more professional it seems.
Whenever possible fix things in post. This way you will get better and better in VFX.
The intro is all about you. You have to keep it at least 30 seconds long to nail the viewer's attention. Your intro has to be something like a Transformers trailer, full of VFX, that features your name and logo. People love seeing your logo, especially if it is not stylized but full of detail. The more detail your logo has, the bigger it has to be so that everyone can enjoy it. Place the logo everywhere in the footage. You don't want someone to make a screenshot of your precious frames and sell it for millions of dollars.
There's no such thing as bad footage. It's just unprocessed or not properly processed. Everything can be fixed in post.
Add flares by randomizing the direction the flare light comes from. This makes the image more lively. Even if there's a sun in the frame on the left, add a flare on the right, simulating a kicker light.
Put your favorite piece of music regardless of the content. Thrash metal on a traditional Indian wedding video will get people more interested in your work.
Make everything in slow motion, especially the dialogues. No matter if you have shot at 24 fps, you can always make it look like 1000 fps because software plugins are much better these days.
By adding off-topics you make your video more colorful and thus you can add more hashtags when publishing it online. This means whatever people search for, there's a chance to find your video. This will get you more views and more business. Put your video everywhere and then search for trending videos or photos. Add a comment below them such as: "Please see my new video (your video link here)." As there are lots of people that are going to see that content, they will click on your link and your video will become the next trendy one. Do not be afraid, you won't be banned because the moderators will appreciate your work and leave your comment there.
Make sure the thumbnail of the video doesn't have anything to do with the storyline of the video. You don't have a storyline anyway. Add a title that won't reveal the real story in the video. Put something trendy instead to get more clicks. Tackle viewers' expectations.
The last one makes me regret editors didn't approve the original title of this article: "Best Gear Switch: Canon to Nikon or Vice Versa?"