Do you get a feeling that your videos look too amateurish? Perhaps you've been shooting movies and trying to add some cool special effects to spice up your videos - but you're not getting the results you want.
The truth is this - many professional video editing secrets are not published to the general public. As a newbie to videography, you'll be spending hours trying to learn the tricks of the pros.
In this article, I'll share with you eight ways to make a video look more professional. Many of these tips have been used by the pros for years - just that you may not be aware of them.
The first piece of advice I have is this - get a proper digital video camcorder. If you want to do professional video, then don't use those pocket camcorders or lightweight devices like an iPhone. Get a real camcorder. Better yet, get a high grade camcorder like the Canon HV40 (shown below).
The high grade Canon HV40 camcorder
That level of equipment can capture 24p and 30p and will allow you to capture fabulous video. Sure, it's expensive to invest in one of those, but over the long run, if you stick with your video hobby - it will save you quite a bit of money and produce much better looking videos.
The starting point of a video is where a lot of newbies trip up. Many videographers don't "establish" a shot - meaning that they jump right into the scene. The audience doesn't know where they are and usually get lost.
The establishing shot is critical for setting the tone of the entire video production. Some examples include a panning shot of a party before zooming into the people; or a shot of the exterior of a house, before you zoom on the inhabitants inside.
Here's one great tip to make a video look more professional. It is fundamental to video shooting and you should apply it to any shot you make. The tip is this - "Keep the camcorder still".
Don't pan or zoom the camcorder. Learn to use your camcorder's image stabilization function. Learn to steady it on a tripod or use a shoulder brace or camera crane. If you do this, most of the shots you make will be more stable and professional looking.
One important thing to do to make a video look more professional is to do up a simple script before you film it. A lot of amateurs skip this step, often resulting in a messy looking video.
Always spend some time to script your video production
I suggest you lay out the script and make sure you know who does what before you start any filming. Some professional directors lay out the script on formal project plans so that they know exactly what to do on a given day.
Lighting is fundamental for any video shoot. One of the most important tips here is to combine natural and artificial light.
If you're outdoors, try casting some lighting onto your subject if he or she is under the shade for a better overall effect.
If you're shooting indoors, make sure you use extra lighting. Also, if direct lights on your subject are too bright, learn to bounce the light off white paper to reduce the glare.
For a video to sound professional, you need crystal clear audio. My tip here is to always use headphones to monitor the audio captured by your camcorder. If possible, use an external microphone, e.g. one of those "zoom" microphones which can help isolate sound from your subject.
A good alternative is to use a clip-on microphone on your subject, something very useful in video interviews. You should also turn off all non-essential equipment or machines causing ambient noise when shooting a video.
Once the video shot is done, you'll need to pass the video into a good video editing program to initiate post-production. Some of the professional level video editing software programs out there include Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
Invest in video editing software that meets your needs
These cost quite a bit of money, though - so if you're an intermediate level user, you can find most of the video editing functionalities you need in cheaper software like Adobe Premiere Elements, Corel VideoStudio or the Pinnacle suite of products.
A final tip on how to make your videos look professional - make use of a white background. You know, those cool looking videos Apple runs on its website. They all make use of a simple, white background - and they look really clean and cool.
Try using these backgrounds (e.g. with a large piece of white paper or cardboard, coupled with good lighting) when you're next shooting an interview. It'll inject a real professional looking feel to your video.
I hope the above has helped you understand how to make your video more professional. Learn to apply a tip or two listed above to your next video and you should be able to see a profound improvement in the look and feel of your videos.
Until next time, happy experimenting with your videos and drop me a note to let me know how you progress!