I interviewed Israel (Izzy) Hyman – a professional online video producer, web video production trainer, video podcast show host, and ReelSEO guest contributor. Izzy shared with me his passion for "the motion image" and how he got started doing web video production. He also offered up the following 5 very important tips to consider for getting higher quality video when you are shooting for web video.
Web Video Production Tip #1: Shoot Close-ups
Here's a common mistake I see: Having someone appear small in the frame, and not doing close-ups of your speaker. Remember, when shooting video for the web you have atiny frame to work with. When you are dealing with small frames you probably don't want to have too many wide shots. You want it to be mostly close-ups, and maybe some medium-distance shoots.
For example, I was watching a sales video a few days ago on somebody's website, and it was just a really poorly composed shot. Not because what's in the image wasn't interesting. It was a typical office scenario, of a gentlemen standing at a conference table clearly in a business environment. He was looking business-like, but you are dealing with a tiny little frame. So the speaker, the host of this video, basically was so small in the frame, that it was made to look like it was a wide shot.
One of the big advantages of video is being able to make a personal connection with someone to where you can see their expression. You can see their authenticity. You can see their sincerity. All of these types of emotions and the nonverbal cues, that kind of stuff is all very important. If you can't even see their face, then that's a big problem. The way to fix that is what I go back to what I said before – do close ups. Have the camera set up so that you are just shooting close-ups. Having your subject be bigger in the frame is something I think that a lot more people could do.
Web Video Production Tip #2: Adjust for Webcam Distance
Another thing I see is how people use their webcams. Any web camera (and a lot of pocket digital camcorders and camera phones) shoots at a really wide angle. So when using a webcam you don't want to get too close up to the camera; and the same when you have a pocket digital camcorder, you don't' want to get too close to your subject you're shooing, because then you will look all strange and distorted. (Although I find that the popular Kodak Zi8 isn't as wide angle as some of the other cameras.)
Web Video Production Tip #3: Lighting Is Critical
Another thing that I still a common problem with Web video is bad lighting. It's usually when somebody thinks, "Okay you know what I need good light, so I am going to go stand under a light.” So they literally stand under a light and it creates shadows on their eyes sockets that are so dark you can't even see their eyes; and if you can't see somebody's eyes then you don't trust them. But they are putting this kind of video on the Web; and you know it is sort of working against them. It makes them look kind of sinister, like the un-dead!
If somebody doesn't want to spend money on lights or anything, then the best thing to do frankly is this: Get in front of a window and have the sunlight coming in through the window, and just put some sort of light fabric over the window, which will work to diffuse the light a little bit and will create basically a nice light. It will be flat light, but will be way better than having eye sockets that appear all shadowy.
Web Video Production Tip #4: Think in Thirds
Professional videographers will break their frame into a grid of thirds; basically you put a tic-tac-toe grid on your (viewing) frame, and then that gives you four different points where want to position the main subject, which is where you want to draw the viewer's attention. Ideally you want to position on one of those third lines and ideally where they intersect.
Web Video Production Tip #5: Use Small Mics for Newbies
One thing It tell people when interviewing people who are uncomfortable to be on camera, that it's not just a big camcorder or camera lens that can intimidate them; it's also a big microphone. If you put a big stick microphone in front of their face they get flustered, because they're very aware of it being there, and it's intimidating to them. So use a smaller microphone, and they much more likely to forget about it. I mean, they'll be aware of it at first, but then they'll forget about it later on. A lavaliere that you can clip on their shirt is a good example, rather than a shotgun mic or handheld mic you have up to their face.
Izzy Hyman Revealed & Professional Web Video Production
Me: How did you get started with web video, to where you are today?
Izzy: I have been in video as a hobby plus professionally over the last about ten years or so. What got me started was when I got my first Mac ten years ago, believe it or not; and I saw iMovie. Before then, I had never done any editing at all up to that point. I then got my first digital video camera, and I figured out I could shoot video of the kids around the family and trips I went on with friends and stuff like that; then I could edit it, and make fake movie previews and nice DVD's.
So, I just fell in love with video actually at that point. I fell in love with the image, the moving image, capturing audio, capturing moments – all of it. I was able to combine my love of photography (where I could capture a frozen moment) with my love of video, because of how it really captures the essence of what's going on.
I got into video as a hobby to begin with, and I started learning everything I could about it. I learned about video lighting, about video audio and composition, different formats, codecs and things like that. And then after a while, I started making tutorials as a hobby, also.
Next I learned about video podcasting, and started making tutorials there as well. Then I saw that my tutorials were becoming popular online. Over time I transitioned into a video podcaster professionally, and started basically producing premium video tutorial content using a freemium model (where there was some free content and then paid content.) That was my path to becoming a full time video producer, which is what I do now.
Mostly what I do these days, is I obviously produce different show series on video production regularly. I am also partial to featuring "how-to" type content. I am looking always looking for new ideas for shows to roll out.
Me: How would you compare where business-oriented web video is today from where it was 10 years ago?
Izzy: It is dramatically better. One of the things that I have been saying for a long time, that people are picking up more on is, focus on good sound. You first need good sound to make whatever you're producing intelligible. If you go on YouTube today, pretty much people are capturing great audio with their video now. I think a good part of it is that the technology has made things easier, (including for photography which is used as part of video), so its more approachable, and more people understand better how to do video properly.
Me: You mentioned photography as part of what you do, and we have seen great improvements in digital camcorders; and now with DSLRs, where consumers achieve professional quality with not just taking photos, but even use for video. How would you say the improvements in video camcorder hardware compare?
Izzy: Video is definitely not where photography is. It's not as approachable as photography is online, But it's still, video has made enormous improvement.
About Izzy Video…
IzzyVideo.com is Izzy Hyman's Website, where he offers regular free and premium video tutorials that just show people how to shoot and edit better video. Currently there are over 150 tutorials in the library for anyone wanting to learn the basics of video, including video for the Web. The lessons mostly range from beginner-to-intermediate level and, there are also some advanced shooters that are members as well.
I've got 20-year video producers that have been members." Says Izzy. "Video is my passion. I do it for fun. I am always learning new stuff; and I share what I learn with my audience.”