How to Make a Professional Looking Video

If you’ve been thinking about adding video to your website or entering a video contest read or listen to this.

Lisa B. Marshall,
June 11, 2010
Episode #095

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Last week I talked about how to create good video content, today I’d like to focus on the nitty-gritty details of actually making the video. That is, how can you can quickly and easily make a professional-looking video without hiring a video professional.

How to Make A Professional Looking Video

The technology for creating reasonably good videos has finally turned the corner. It’s now easy, even for the technology impaired, to create something that will impress your friends, prospects, and perhaps even contest judges.

What Tools Do You Need For Making a Professional Looking Video?

To make a quick video (this is the one time I don’t really want to say “quick and dirty” video!) of course you’ll need a camcorder. Today many companies offer high-quality camera that are small, somewhat inexpensive, and very easy to use. The top three cameras in this category are the very popular Cisco Flip MinoHD, the Kodak Zi8 HD, and the Creative Vado HD (Third Generation).

My advice is that if you want something very simple, use the Flip Mino. If you want to be able to use an external microphone (and you do want that) then go for either the Kodak Zi8 or the Creative Vado HD. If you want removable storage, then go for the Kodak Zi8. (Oh, and don’t forget to get yourself a tripod so that you can be sure the camera doesn’t shake when you shoot.)

How to Make a Video with Good Sound Quality

As I just hinted, one of the most important parts of a good video is excellent sound. In fact, viewers will tolerate poor video quality but if the sound is bad, they’ll just stop watching. Good sound quality is essential, so in addition to your camera and tripod, you’ll need an external microphone (for tips on using it, see my episode about proper microphone use).

Borrow or buy a lavalier lapel microphone. You can get one from Radio Shack for about $25 or you can spend a little more to get a better one from Darren over at Giant Squid Audio lab. If you are planning on making several videos, especially ones that include voice-overs (or recording podcasts like this one), you’ll likely want to spend a bit more money to get a better USB microphone--or perhaps even splurge on a really good condenser microphone and a mixer.

I recently purchased a USB Blue Yeti to use as my daily microphone and I really like it. It’s got good sound quality and it’s very versatile. I also have a Shure SM58 Microphone and small mixer that I use for recording this show. The money you invest in a good microphone is directly returned to you in terms of overall quality of the sound. So if you’re going to spend extra money on only one thing, spend it on a quality microphone.