Using video in your marketing strategy stacks the odds in your favor — and research proves it!
Multiple studies into buyer behavior demonstrate that people like to see companies use video. It helps them digest information faster and builds brand credibility and authenticity, translating to ROI at a much faster pace. Plus, 91% of businesses are already using video in their marketing strategy, according to one report.
So whether you are an architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firm encouraging your employees to grab more footage in the field or a law firm looking to demonstrate thought leadership with video content, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon, friends!
Do I need to hire a pro to shoot marketing video?
Technology has gotten good. Like really good.
Many smartphones can shoot 4K video, autofocus and even flag when a shot is crooked. Most starter cameras have similar settings available while you get comfortable shooting videos.
We always advise working with a professional for the best results. However, if investing in a full-service video partner to capture all your video content isn’t in the cards for you right now, that is no reason why your firm can’t capture its own video in-house and work with an external partner on the content strategy, editing and promotion.
Your team can always send the clips to a video partner for professional editing, and a good partner will even give you tips on how to improve your shots next time around. (That’s how our remote team produces video content for social media. Check it out and follow us while you’re there!)
But first things first. Let’s get you set up with the right tools.
Video starter kit essentials
In our recommendations below, we’ve included two options for each piece of equipment: one higher-end, higher-quality option and one mid-range, high-level hobbyist quality. While some of the higher-end components do deliver a higher-quality product, the mid-range options will still be more than adequate to achieve professional-quality video.
Portability is a key trait we look for when evaluating cameras. These recommendations are small and lightweight. They’ll make it easier for your team to move freely and work quickly without sacrificing video quality.
This camcorder has a built-in zoom lens, dual XLR audio inputs (less need for an external audio recorder), and a built-in holder for adding an external microphone. It records in 4K UHD resolution, the current professional standard.
This is a user-friendly, professional-quality option with most of the features you would be looking for built into the camera. It is larger than the DSLR option, requiring a sturdier tripod. The built-in zoom lens has less versatility than the DSLR option’s removable lenses.
The a6300 is a compact 4K mirrorless DSLR-style camera that uses interchangeable lenses. We like to include a 16-50mm lens (for close-up or wide shots) and a 55-210mm lens (for narrow or distance shots). The a6300 has a 1/8-inch input for a single microphone and would require an external audio adapter when using more than a single microphone (which is highly recommended).
It’s a versatile camera capable of shooting clean, crisp shots. The interchangeable lenses allow marketing departments to upgrade optics without purchasing an entirely new camera. Though some kits may include a sturdy tripod and tripod bag, the lightweight camera is small enough to use handheld in an on-the-go shoot.
Panasonic’s line of LUMIX cameras is another popular option.
A tripod is an essential part of a videographer’s arsenal that prevents shaky, wobbly or crooked shots.
This tripod is made by Manfrotto, arguably the most highly respected tripod and photo accessory manufacturer. It features a counterweighted fluid head that ensures perfect, smooth panning shots with no wobble or shake. The tripod has a 15.5 lb payload and a maximum height of 67 inches, a full foot taller than most standard tripods. The tripod’s design also makes for compact storage. This is definitely the “pro” option, but it is designed for simple, easy operation by the best in the business.
This tripod supports up to 33 pounds, more than enough for the Canon XA40 with a mounted microphone.
One of the most overlooked aspects of videography is lighting. Nobody notices a well-lit shot, but a poorly lit scene can make your production look amateurish.
You’ll typically need three lights — two for the subject and one to illuminate the backdrop of the shot. The choices below are three-light kits that include everything you’ll need.
This kit includes three LED-panel lights with barn doors (attachments on the edge of the light that focus or shape the light), light stands, power cords and a padded soft case. The lights are dimmable and bi-color, which means the color can be shifted from cool (bluish) to warm (reddish) to match ambient lighting or skin tones.
The lights in this kit are a similar size at 10.6″ x 10.3″ and come with barn doors and a carry case as well. They aren’t as bright as the Dracast kit, which means they may have to be placed closer to the subject and may not illuminate an entire backdrop evenly with a single light, depending on distance. The lights are dimmable and bi-color and come with an AC power adapter. They can also use separately purchased batteries. The construction is mostly plastic, and they may not hold up to as much abuse as the Dracast lights. However, they will perform well as long as they are handled properly.
A lapel, or “lavalier” microphone, is a small microphone meant to be worn on the speaker’s clothing. It captures crisp, detailed voice recordings while remaining discreet on-screen. These microphones are ideal for interviews since they work well to eliminate distracting background noises.
This lav mic is high-quality and made by the reputable audio company Rode. Without spending $400+ on a lapel microphone, this is close to the higher end of quality in the market. The downside is that the cord is only six feet long, making an extension cord necessary (about $18 for 10 feet, $30 for 25 feet).
This lav mic has a 20-foot cable but may have a slightly “tinnier” sound than the Rode. It will still produce quality audio but may require being placed closer to or further from the speaker’s mouth to achieve the proper levels. In our experience, the “tinny” sound can be corrected relatively easily in post-processing, but the final product won’t sound as good as an untainted high-quality recording.
A “shotgun” microphone is a larger microphone typically mounted on the camera or on a stand facing the speaker. It records all audio in the direction it is positioned — not just the speaker’s voice, like a lav mic. The shotgun mic’s audio may allow you to hear both parties in an interview (whether two interviewees or the interviewer and interviewee), even if only one is wearing a lapel microphone. However, each speaker should wear a lapel for the best audio quality.
This mic is the consensus “prosumer’s” choice shotgun microphone. The large microphone diaphragm is highly sensitive while cutting out room “buzz” that our ears tune out. It lasts about 70 hours on a 9-volt battery and does not run on plug-in camera power. The microphone is designed to record directly into the camera but can be connected to an external recorder as well. When shooting outdoors, a windscreen (about $40) is highly recommended.
This tiny shotgun microphone, intended to be mounted on a camera, packs quite a punch despite its size and price. Reviews are mostly in agreement that the mic produces good audio quality while minimizing what’s going on behind the camera. It comes with a fluffy windscreen and runs on the camera’s power, which means you don’t have to worry about packing extra batteries (though you should have extra for your camera). The first option may be the “pro” choice, but this microphone will serve its purpose with lots of bang for your buck.
An external audio recorder is highly recommended with either camera option, but it is absolutely necessary with the a6300 to capture high-quality audio. In a typical interview setup, the subject’s microphone focuses on recording their voice while at least one backup microphone records the room audio. If a lapel microphone fails or records poor-quality audio, the room microphone can serve as a backup. If the room microphone or in-camera recording have problems, an external recorder is the last fail-safe to save you from scheduling a re-shoot.
The Zoom H4n records and stores up to two external microphone tracks while simultaneously recording on its two built-in microphones. The H4n is incredibly popular, reliable and easy to use, which is why it’s the only recorder we’re including in our recommendations. It has two XLR microphone inputs (the a6300 has none, the XA40 has two) and records audio directly onto an SD card. If you’re not plugging a mic directly into the camera, you can always record audio separately with the H4n and sync up your audio and video during the editing stage.