How to Make a Video

Next up in our video series is how to edit your video — how to put all of the footage you just shot together in a way that tells a story about your business.

Film ClapperIn all likelihood, you already have the necessary software to put together a “movie,” or you can easily obtain it. If your computer is less than 5 years old, your operating system probably came with a default video-editing program, Windows Live Movie Maker for Windows, and iMovie for Mac. Both programs have a manual and an automatic option, meaning that you can either control all the aspects of your video yourself, or you can let the program do it. Both ways work, it just depends on how involved you want to be in the process, and how much control you want over the final product.

Editing Clips
When you import your footage from your digital camera, each video will probably show up as a “clip” that you can add to your final video. You can edit these clips for length — in an interview, for example, everything the subject says is not necessary to put into the video, and even just one quote is sometime enough — or you can split them into two or more separate clips to be used in different places in your video. Add them in the order that tells the best story, not necessarily the order that you shot them in.

Adding Music & Narration
The audio portion of a video is at least as important as the video footage itself. If you followed the techniques in the article on shooting video, you shouldn’t have any road noise or any narration in your footage. If your video does require narration, this is the stage where you’ll be adding it. You can also add background music at this stage if you feel it will enhance your video.

If your video program has a voice-over tool, use that, and follow the instructions. If not, it may be necessary to shoot another “clip”, of which you’ll only be using the audio. You should use an external microphone for this, as the built-in mike will often pick up too much background noise. An external microphone can be as simple as the earpiece you use for your cell phone (as long as it fits into the plug on your computer) or as complicated as a bluetooth headset linked to your computer.

There are two two things you should consider before you select the music for your video: 1) Unless you have special, written permission, you cannot use copyrighted music. This includes virtually all current and most past popular music. You can use music in the public domain, and you can also use stock tunes. Do a Google search to find out whether something is copyrighted if you’re unsure, or do a search for stock music. You can also use original music, which would be a two-for-one if you’re a musician hoping to sell a song or two! 2) Make sure the music is appropriate to the subject matter. Just because it’s your favorite song doesn’t mean that everyone else likes it: do a test run on a few family members or neighbors to see what they think before you call it finished.

When you add your background music, make sure you don’t drown out your guests’ warm fuzzy comments, or even any of the natural sounds (people love to hear the ducks quacking on the lake or the moose’s footsteps as he lumbers down the road).

Making Transitions
Both software options allow you to add transitions (fades, dissolves, etc.), so use them between your clips if you think they’re appropriate. A creative transition can enhance the feel of a video, but a plain-old cut (a scene change without a transition) is often more appropriate. If it looks awkward, add a transition, but if not, it’s probably ok to leave it as is. Regular cross-dissolves are usually the best option for transitions — the fancy transitions (the wipe, the ripple effect, the star dissolve, etc.) only call attention to themselves, and therefore away from the subject matter.

Try to keep your videos at three minutes or less. That might seem short, especially after you shot 15 minutes of footage and selected a 7-minute song, but a video more than three minutes in length often discourages viewers from watching. So, select the best shots and the best portions of the song, and fade out at the end if you can’t find a natural ending spot.

One final tip: It takes a little practice to get everything working together, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and mess up. Save the raw footage from your camera in a separate folder on your computer so if you do ruin a video irreparably, you can just go back and grab the original and start again with what you’ve learned.

Play around with some of the video you’ve already shot, and see how you can put it all together to tell your story. Next time, we’ll go over how to add that video to your website.