How to Make Better Videos for the Web – Caleb Wojcik

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Caleb-Wojcik-PinterestHave you ever considered using video as a tool to help you grow your business? Think of how much time you spend every day watching TV, movies and other video-based content. Now imagine being able to reach your target audience that way.

Making videos doesn’t have to mean lots of expensive equipment and endless hours of editing. With the availability of so many free and inexpensive options, even the most novice of budding filmmakers can put out a great product that could be just the punch your marketing needs to entertain and inspire your audience.

Caleb Wojcik teaches video web production and has been making videos for nearly a decade, spanning everything from professional sports, commercials and even training videos. He has graciously shared some effective tips – including equipment and software recommendations – that will help you to make great videos regardless of your budget or skill level.

Rich: Howdy, today I am here with Caleb Wojcik. He has been making videos off and on for nearly a decade. In that time he has filmed the NHL, the MLB, NCAA basketball and football, weddings, commercials, book trailers and plenty of training videos for the web. He is also the author of DIY Video Guide, teaches web video production at diyvideoguy.com, and runs a video production studio called Caleb Wojcik Films. He also formally co-founded Fizzle.co. Caleb, welcome to The Marketing Agents podcast.

Caleb: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Rich: I’m glad you made it because I know I have a lot of questions about making better videos, but let’s just start with simply why are online videos such a big deal?

Caleb: Well I think they’re such a big deal nowadays because they’re getting easier to produce so you have really high end cameras in your pocket already and pretty much anyone can turn the camera on themselves and start making them. And so just the proliferation of online video has gone from companies and big budgets and television and movies to anyone, really, with webcams and phones.

So I think that’s a big reason why it’s grown so much over the past 6 or 7 years or so in this new age of YouTube and social media and stuff like that. It’s all based on technology getting cheaper and the ability to spread that amongst your group of friends and customers and clients and fans has just gotten way easier to do.

Rich: Well that all makes sense, and I think in some ways it also becomes its own problem. It feels like years ago people like Gary Vaynerchuk were saying it doesn’t make a difference how crummy a video looks, just get it out there or get it in front of people. And then there seems to be this shift with Derek Halpern going full on studio and creating really high end videos that obviously took some time and money to create, produce and do post production on. So I guess part of it is do we need to raise our game to do video well when it comes to web video these days?

Caleb: Well I would advocate that you do need to start learning the fundamentals, know the biggest mistakes that you can make with video – such as shooting it vertically instead of horizontally – but there are things that you can start to learn on your own as well as the kind of equipment you can use to make them better. I go back and forth with the highly produced look as well as the let’s turn the camera phone around on my cell phone and get a little bit more raw.

Because – you used Gary Vaynerchuk as an example – with Wine Library TV, he had someone there shooting it and it looked like maybe a 1980’s basement like Wayne’s World style with the Jets helmet and everything. But you look at him now and he’s doing Ask Gary Vee in his nice office of his company and he has video people in the room that are pulling in all the questions, doing all the editing and stuff like that. But some of his other videos are really highly successful. He shot on an airplane hunched over his laptop’s webcam, he looks like the emperor from Star Wars, and he’s just telling people to hustle and he’s swearing and everything. So I think that the thing about video is that whoever the personality is, whether it’s in HD, 4K or it’s raw video on Vine or uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, that’s what comes through. And I think that’s what the power of video is as opposed to written content or short, little social media posts. Video has someone’s full attention and it’s really hard to fake it on your end being a person on camera.

Rich: Ok, I have a question but first I just have a geek question. So you mentioned HD or these days 4K, I’m not familiar with 4K, what is that?

Caleb: So 1080p was the big push for getting all television from standard definition to high definition. And so 1080p is what Blu Ray is on, and NFL games and all the television you’re watching now is either 720 or 1080. 4K is essentially twice that. So if you go to a consumer electronics show, they’re pushing 4K TV’s, they’re pushing 4K cameras and so that’s the next step. And on YouTube, even if you shoot at 4K, that’s an option for them to host 4k video. So that’s like the highest web video you can do right now versus doing stuff from your webcam or your phone or whatever.

Rich: Alight, cool. That was just the geek in me wanting to know. Alright, so I think I’m fairly typical for some of the people out there listening in the fact that I’ve got a small office – some people are in their home office, some have an office like I do – and I’ve been creating videos on and off as well, kind of not as consistently as I’d like, but I like to do a lot of “How To” videos.

“How To Get More Followers On Twitter”, “How To Set Up An Email Autoresponder Campaign”, whatever it is, and the videos I’ve been taking are decent, they’re a mixture of video that I capture myself using my laptop as well as some screen capture grabs that I use from ScreenflowPro. But I want to be doing more stuff that’s better lit that makes me look better. I guess my question is, how do I create a better looking video? If I’m just getting started, what would you recommend is kind of the introductory hardware that I need to so this, – lighting, video, audio – whatever?

Caleb: Well I think you made a good point about starting with what you have, so doing things like screencaps, using your webcam and if you’re doing those sorts of things, the next thing that I recommend is sticking with doing the recording on your computer. So getting a better webcam, the Logitech C920 is the one that I use and a lot of my friends use for when they’re doing live Google hangouts or just recording some of these screencapture things. Starting with just a better webcam alone will up your game a little bit.

And then you go into maybe you’re using a podcast microphone that’s just offscreen or you’re fine having it in front of your face, using a USB microphone or a podcasting XLR microphone – that’s a couple hundred dollars – that’s the next thing. And then having good lighting, typically that just means putting your desk directly in front of a window and making sure that your background is interesting. If you don’t have that kind of ability or setup, then get a couple lights for $200 or $400 on Amazon or DIY it and go to Home Depot and get some lights that way. But for a few hundred dollars, recording directly into a computer is what I really recommend people start with.

And then if you do want to go beyond that, getting a dedicated camera, like an entry level DSLR with a good lens, something like a Canon T5i with a 40 or 50mm lens, that’s kinda where I would get started. And then getting a lavalier microphone and an external recorder, it all kind of snowballs into bigger budgets and more things you can get, but I highly recommend people start with whatever equipment they have now and just make small upgrades with whatever process is working best for them.

Rich: That actually makes a lot of sense. Before I bought an expensive road bike, I just went down to the local shop and I found a used one for $100 to see if I was really going to ride my bike on a regular basis, and at a certain point I decided I want to upgrade when I prove to myself that I’m going to make the investment. So before you go out and spend $2,000 on all this equipment, maybe you go out and spend $100 or less and see if you can be consistent with it.

Caleb: Right. And just a personal story, yesterday I just upgraded my lights. And I paid a couple thousand dollars, and I agonized over this purchase for a long time, they’re just lights why should they be this much money. But then I looked back at 3 years ago when I bought a set of lights on Amazon for $170, and I’ve used those things more times than I can count, they’re workhorses and bulbs have broken, they’ve gotten their use and I know I’ll use these lights going forward. So that’s the same analogy of get something inexpensive that will work, use it a lot, and you know when you pay more for an upgrade you’re going to use it, too.

Rich: And have you noticed a real difference in the video quality because of the new lights?

Caleb: So I just started them yesterday, so not yet.

Rich: Ok, you’ll have to let us know. Ok, so let’s say that we’ve got our equipment – whether we’re just beginners or we’ve got a little bit under our belt – let’s say we’re making these “how to” videos, walk me through what a shoot would be like.

Caleb: Ok, so before you ever shoot – which is actually something I have to help educate clients on – the thinnest video starts particularly with writing. It starts with a good outline, a solid script – you don’t need to have the script memorized, especially if you’re using a teleprompter – but having a solid script molds the final video into what it needs to be. It’s way harder to shoot a bunch of footage and then go and try to edit it into what you want, it’s better to start at the beginning. It’s just like baking a cake, you need good ingredients and you need directions, otherwise the cake is going to taste awful. So it all starts with scripting, once the script is ready get the camera and lights set up and you do a test shot – record a shot of yourself and then go see what it looks like – you always want to do these tests, especially if you are going to be shooting a lot of video over a long period of time. test it and make sure it works okay.

Then during the shoot the process that I go through if I’m running off a script – without a teleprompter – is I take 2-3 sentences from the script, look at it and say it out loud a couple times and try to memorize it, then I look to the camera and try to say it. And so you go back and forth through looking at the script and memorizing 2 or 3 sentences, delivering that to the camera at least 2 times well, and then move on to the next piece. And then when you’re editing you can see those longer chunks are going to be the parts where you nailed it and you said your lines correctly, so you just take your best take of those and then so a little edit in between all the little takes. And that’s how you typically work your way through a script.

Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. So we started with the outline, so we’ve got to know what we’re going to talk about. If we’re talking about building an email list, we’ve got to figure out what the specific points we want to hit are, and then we write out a script. We don’t have to memorize the script, but at the same time what I hear you saying is I may – once I set everything up with my lights and done a few tests – then I’m going to say 2-3 sentences basically breaking down my script into bite size pieces and delivering it a couple times and edit it in post production.

Caleb: Yes, exactly.

Rich: Anything else we need to think of while we’re actually doing the shoot?

Caleb: I try to think of one person that I’m talking to, because it’s not very normal to be talking to an inanimate object – like a camera – so you have to think about who’s out there on the other end. I try to make it someone in my audience, maybe someone that replies to each of my emails I send out or likes to comment on my posts or videos, and I picture that I’m talking to that person because I kind of take a different tone. I get a little less preachy like I’m on a stage, and more like I’m talking to one person at a time. And that little mind switch helps me with delivery a little bit better and makes me more comfortable.

The fear of being on camera is just like the fear of public speaking because you’re picturing all these people that will eventually see it. And if you can knock that down to just one person that you’re talking to, then you’ll get more comfortable, you’ll get less public speaking like you have to talk loud and with a lot of energy and become more personable on camera if you just focus on that one person.

Rich: That’s really good, and for those of you that have been listening to the show, this is probably a good time to go back and listen to the John Lee Dumas interview where we talk about creating an avatar for your business. Because it sounds like we really should be talking to that one avatar, that perfect client for us.

So once we edit everything together – well, I guess that’s the question – what tools should we be using to edit all these video pieces together?

Caleb: There are free ones available, both on Windows and Mac. There’s a Windows one called Windows Movie Maker, on the Mac there’s iMovie. Both of those are free tools, they have limitations, but if you’re just getting into this, they’re great to get started with. If you want to upgrade a little bit more or you want to do some of these screen recording style things that we were talking about earlier, the best program for the Mac is called Screenflow, it’s $100. I know people that shoot their DSLR footage – Pat Flynn for example – he shoots his DSLR footage and edits it in Screenflow, he doesn’t do anything beyond that.

Rich: Yeah, me too. I love that piece of software.

Caleb: It’s great. And if you’re on Windows, Camtasia is similar kind of software that helps you with screen recording or can edit regular kind of video footage as well. If you want to go the next step to that third tier, if you’re on a Mac, Final Cut Pro X is what I consider to be iMovie Pro. It has a lot of the same simple features, simple ways to edit quickly, and I just used that for 2 ½ or 3 years exclusively when I was doing a lot of work with Fizzle and some client work.

Then more recently I’ve switched over to using all Adobe products, so I’m an Adobe Premier Pro now. This program is used on shows like Saturday Night Live, so there are pro tools in it, but you can keep it simple if you want. I kind of see those 3 tiers of free, then there’s those 2 screen recording pieces of software, and then there’s the more pro ones like Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro.

Rich: Alright, now from a marketing standpoint, once we have our video ready to go – and I don’t know if this is something you work with your clients on – how are you marketing it? Is it a matter of just uploading it to YouTube or Vimeo, are you taking some extra steps? How do we get more people to see our videos?

Caleb: Well I think the biggest thing is you need to know where your audience is and what’s the best way to put the video in front of that audience. So through an email list, for example, it might be a direct email with the thumbnail that has a play button that when they click on that it goes directly to the YouTube page, or maybe embed it on your blog and host it on something like Wistia or Vimeo.

Whereas social media or something like that, if you have a longer video, maybe while you’re shooting that video you shoot a little 30-second or 60-second version to put up on Facebook that then teases the full video over on YouTube to get them from Facebook over to YouTube.

So you have to think about where is my audience most engaged, is it on my blog, is it on social media, and then figure out the best ways to get people from those places to watch the full video.

Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. Now you’ve worked with a bunch of small businesses over the years, what are some of the mistakes that you see small businesses doing when it comes to video?

Caleb: I think that people don’t know often what the point of a video is, so they don’t really have a call to action with certain videos. They can be something as simple as liking or subscribing or going to their website or having some sort of action, but I think that typically when people are making videos they’re not really sure what the reason for doing them is. And I think that when I sit down to write a script for a video and I know the exact call to action, “what’s the point of this video” is right at the top, and a lot of people miss that.

So knowing what that is and knowing what the calls to action are in the description or annotations on YouTube or at the end of the video, knowing what that is is really helpful while writing the script, while filming it, and while thinking of who you’re delivering it to, because then you actually know what the point of it is.

Rich: That’s some sound advice, and I think thats important. Sometimes we forget why exactly or what action do we want people to take after they finish the video. Now a lot of people when they hear things like “online video”, they think of YouTube first, maybe Vimeo second, but obviously we’ve also got on the mobile devices these platforms like Vine and Instagram Video. Have you found any real value to using those tools when it comes to small business, entrepreneurship or anything like that?

Caleb: Those are tough because Vine is very heavily focused towards the comedic piece, so getting laughs in those 6 seconds, it is tough to break through with your audience in to Vine. You’re not going to land on a popular page with some sort of entrepreneurial post, typically.

But that being said, it’s still a new platform and it is expanding and there are people doing interesting stuff on that platform. There’s a screenwriter who does these little 6 second advice from “How to break into the screenwriting world” and “How to get into working in movies”, and it’s just 6 seconds of him in multiple places around New York City when he’s walking around. He says something into the camera – and he plans them out, obviously – but he’s grown a following of aspiring writers and screenwriters and people that want to work in Hollywood.

So there are ways to use short form video on something like Vine or Instagram, but you’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to do something different than you would do on a long form YouTube video, it’s got to be something that is very compact. It’s going to take more time to think about what you want to say because you only have a little amount of time.

Rich: And it also sounds like, from what you were mentioning earlier is with the script writer example, is he went to a place and used a platform where his audience already is. So you really need to know who your audience is and where they are online.

Caleb: Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is, most people are still not going to Instagram expecting video because it was built on being a photo platform. Whereas on Vine and Brian Koppelman – who is this person I’m talking about that has these screenwriting Vines – he knows that people are going there to expect a video. So there is a little bit of a disconnect on Instagram, but there are still people doing interesting things on Instagram with video.

Rich: Very cool. Well I know that people who are interested are hopefully now really excited about getting involved with video and doing a lot more, and I know we really just started talking about some of the things that you have to offer in terms of education and information. Where can we go to learn a little bit more?

Caleb: So my website is diyvideoguy.com. I have a podcast I recently launched there where it’s half me teaching some of the technical things and my advice with video, and half talking with people that do web video really well.

And then there’s also my course at DIY Video Guide, which is kind of a 0-60 look at equipment stuff, some of the settings, how to use scripted video to shoot it and goes more into depth with editing software and all those kinds of things.

Rich: Very cool, and of course we’ll have links to all those things in the show notes, so make sure you go to the show notes and check out everything that Caleb shared with us today. Caleb, I just want to thank you very much for your time today.

Caleb: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Links:

Rich Brooks
Video Killed the Marketing StarCaleb Wojcik