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15 factors for creating great videos (Part 1)

by Randall Craig on December 5, 2014

Filed in: Blog, Content, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

When it comes to video, it is better to be late to the game, than be an earlier adopter.  The reason why? We are no longer in the age of expensive experimentation: you can learn from the experience of others – and their mistakes.

Here are 15 factors that can improve both the production and the effectiveness of any videos that you produce:

1) Goal:  The reason why a particular video is needed must be defined at the outset:  if the video is successful, then what will it cause the viewer to do?  Ego should have nothing to do with why you want to produce a video.

2) Repurposing As you plan the video, where and how else can it be used?  For example, can the video be sliced into shorter segments?  Can it be aggregated with other segments, and re-released as something completely new?  Can the audio be stripped, and then uploaded as a podcast?  Thinking strategically about  repurposing will impact every aspect of the video, from storyboarding to production.

3) Storyboarding:  What scenes will there be in the video?  Storyboarding can be high-level blocking of locations, or lower level visuals to help with scripting and camera angles.

4) Scripting:  The value of scripting is simple: it allows thinking to be done before the camera even starts rolling.  For interview-format videos, the script might just be well-thought-through questions.  For promo and demo videos, every word should be scripted, and tested.  (Hard to believe, but even Reality TV has some amount of scripting.)

5) SetThe set shares equal visual attention with the people being taped, so consider carefully the message that you would like your surroundings to convey.  A Green Screen is an inexpensive way to customize the set to anything, but unless done perfectly, it can look contrived.

6) Rehearsal:  While not strictly required, it can make a huge difference to the end-product.  On one level, the rehearsal may be mechanical only, to ensure that lighting, audio, and all of the equipment is functioning.  At another level, it may mean reading the script out loud, to improve fluency with the words, fine-tune emotional delivery.  Rehearsal will also reduce the number of takes.

7) Lighting:  The lighting directly impacts the viewer’s emotional response to the video’s message – and to you.  Generally speaking, the more “natural” the lighting, the more believable the video will be.  Some technical suggestions:

  • Avoid direct sunlight: it is very bright, and the sun will move during a shoot.
  • Use two soft lights in the front, set at different angles.  This will reduce shadows.
  • Use a third light behind, both to reduce shadows and to add depth to the video.

8) Teleprompter:  These are now available relatively inexpensively, and can help you remember longer scripts.  A cheap alternative is to print out key phrases  in large type, and then tape them to the camera.  Whether you use a teleprompter or not, avoid breaking eye contact with the viewer (eg the camera).

This week’s action plan: What would it take to make your next live presentation more successful?  Not surprisingly, each of these items are equally important when you are live – not just on tape.   (Stay tuned:  next week’s Tipsheet covers the remaining seven factors to create great videos.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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