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A Quick-Start Guide to a Do-It-Yourself Video

Bianca Filoteo is all about getting entrepreneurs to embrace online video, and that’s why she created Video For Shy People. She combines her acting and filmmaking background with her passion for business and technology to help entrepreneurs with all the aspects of creating their online videos. From concept to execution, Bianca is an online video editor, coach, and videographer whose mission is to amplify her clients’ online web presence.

Have you been itching to use online video for your business? People usually hesitate to put videos on their website because they think they need a lot of money and expensive equipment. While it would be fantastic to have a top-notch production company produce your videos, you shouldn't let your limited budget stop you from making your own videos.

Do-it-yourself video is the next best option for those with low budgets who want decent, professional-looking videos for their business. I’ve taken this approach myself. I film all my videos in my apartment, using equipment and programs I've bought with a tight budget (by "tight" I don't mean less than $100—I mean in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars one would usually spend to having a few videos produced). In my experience, I’ve been able to find the resources I could afford by doing a lot of research and seeking the best deals. So if your situation sounds remotely similar to mine, check out this quick guide to getting started with video on a budget.

The Basics: What You'll Need

A camera: I highly suggest getting an HD camera, especially if you want your video to look more professional (you can use an HD webcam as well). I started with a Nikon D90 and upgraded to the Nikon D7000. Some of my friends use the Canon 60D, 5D, t2i, or 7D. And if a DSLR camera isn't in your budget, many recommend the Kodak Zi8. Do your own research and visit your local camera store to find out what you like best.

Audio: I use the Zoom H4N recorder, a boom mic, and a boom mic stand to record the audio separately. This is because the sound quality from the internal mics in most cameras isn't so great. Besides better sound quality, recording your audio separately makes it easier to work with the sound files in an editing program.

Lighting: This is something you don’t want to totally cheap out on. Luckily, you can find more affordable lighting options on eBay and Amazon in the $200-$500 range. I didn’t invest in lighting initially—I used natural daylight and worked with whatever windows I could find when I first started making videos. But now that I have recently purchased a softbox kit (through eBay), the advice I give regarding purchasing lights is this: make sure they are flicker-free to avoid seeing those flicks in your footage.

Editing software: For my Mac, I use Final Cut Pro (I found a great deal on Craigslist from someone was selling their extra licenses for a much lower cost than the retail price), but you can also use iMovie for basic edits. Other software you can check out: ScreenFlow (Mac), Sony Vegas Studio HD (Windows), and Camtasia (Windows/Mac).

(photo credit: jsawkins)

A Few Notes

Don’t get carried away when you purchase equipment and encounter the many options out there. Stick to buying what's necessary and, in time, you'll figure out what else you need to buy later. Depending on your budget, you can buy your equipment all at once, or you can buy pieces one at a time (which is what I did).

Give yourself time to learn how to use your equipment and software. You'll want to try these out before you start recording that sales video. Trust me: The more you know, the more time you’ll save.

Next Steps

  1. Do some research: figure out what equipment you need.
  2. Learn how to use your equipment. Figure out what settings you'll need so you know how to prep for each video shoot.
  3. Do a video test run to think like a filmmaker. Test out different shots and get creative. Think of this learning time as playtime and have fun!
  4. Review your footage: Consider what worked and what didn’t.
  5. Learn about your editing program and practice. Start with the basics so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  6. Look back at the progress you’ve made. Now go plan the real video you want on your website.

Cool Resources

Here are some links that I found handy for tutorials, advice and tips for your online video.

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