DIY Video: How You Look, Matters

By Lindsay Bell

Anyone who’s ever tried to take a picture of me, or shoot video of me, knows one thing for certain.

I have EDCO.

Yes, that’s on top of my already written about OCD.

What is EDCO?

Are you sitting down?

Extreme Double Chin Obsession.

Stop laughing!

This is serious!

Double chins run in my family, though my sister, Beven, has one of those glass-cuttting jawlines that make me cry in my pillow at night.

She’s also the oldest, so you know, at least I have that.

But somewhere down the genetic line, we were blessed with those chins—you know the ones.

They just kind of slope down towards the neckline. Not much definition.

And man-o-man, it doesn’t matter what weight I’m carrying, if I’m caught on film and not positioned just right, well, double chin is hopeful.

Triple or quadruple is more likely.

If I can control my environment, I can usually get a shot of myself I actually like.

Hence why you won’t see many, if any, chin shots on my Facebook page.

I know, I know, first world problems. But it’s a thing, and it drives me insane.

Doing Video with a Face for Radio

But video is another story. You’re moving! Your MOUTH! If a double (or triple) chin is coming, you really can’t do much about it.

Or can you….??

Laura Petrolino wrote a great post at the beginning of our visual content month, giving you tips and tricks for getting started with video.

And, we’re talking the DIY stuff.

The type of videos we do a few times a month—at our desks, in our living rooms, even in front of brick walls!

But, Laura’s post was more about adding video to your content strategy, how to create video that your clients and customers will get value from, and she touched on ways to become more comfortable speaking in front of the camera.  

I’m a little more shallow than Laura (…more vain than Laura? Both…?) so I wanted to write about how to make sure YOU LOOK FANTASTIC when you press that record button!

You can thank me later.

Girls on Film

I went to one of the best.

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy winning journalist and producer, and heads up T60 Productions.

He’s worked with us here at Spin Sucks, and wrote last week about some of the benefits of taking the plunge, and hiring a professional video production team, if your budget allows.  

But if money’s tight, or you just enjoy the rawness of DIY video, there are a few things you can and should be doing to ensure you get the best possible outcome (in other words, you look mah-va-lous), and don’t drive your viewers bonkers.

I spent a long time working in TV, so bad video (and yes, that means YOU too), makes me crazy.

I asked Tony what his biggest bug-a-boos were when it came to DIY video.

Tony’s Top Three Mistakes

  1. #1 Mistake: The camera lens is too low. Many people who shoot video of themselves flip open their laptop, adjust the tilt to frame themselves up, and hit record. The #1 thing you can do to improve the way you look is to stop doing this! Shooting from a low angle tends to be very unflattering unless it’s a highly stylized perspective. (Note from Lindsay: And you get a double chin!!!). Solution: You want the camera lens to be even with your eyes or slightly higher. Think about how you take a selfie! Prop-up the laptop or camera on some books. Lower your chair a bit. You will look so much better. A side note on camera angle… if you can see the crease where the wall meets the ceiling in your shot, your camera is too low!
  2. #2 Mistake: Bad lighting. Most people just use the existing light in the room. They don’t think of the source location of the light in respect to their computer. Solution: Position your light source to be right behind the camera lens and slightly above it. Think about all of those mobile news cameras you see on TV. Their lights are right on top of the camera pointing down at the people they’re recording. If you can’t manage that, put the light just to the left or right of the camera… the closer to the lens the better. Also, if your camera situation is mobile, set it up in front of a window. Natural light is AWESOME to light people on camera. That’s what I use for my vlog setup.A side note on lighting… maybe the worst scenario is when the room is fairly dark and the light from a computer screen is illuminating the person in front of the camera. Avoid that at all costs.
  3. #3 Mistake: The wrong chair. Comfortable, fluffy chairs are no good. Chairs with high backs that can be seen in the shot are no good. Solution: I tend to look for the most uncomfortable chair in the room (a metal folding chair is great!) and use that. Why? It forces you to sit with good posture. Sit-up, smile, and be the star that you are!
  4. BONUS TIP! If you are shooting video using your mobile phone, turn the phone on its side so your aspect ratio is horizontal, not vertical. Do not contribute to vertical video syndrome!

A Great Example

A few weeks ago, we asked a handful of clients to create a testimonial video for us to include on the Arment Dietrich website.

We had just a couple of requests (you can see them in the blog post Amy Bailey wrote about the project) and left it up to them to do the rest.

What Amy did next was hilarious…and extremely smart.

She recorded a video for us and then she wrote a blog post and did outtakes to educate her audience on how to DIY videos.

So, there you have it.

While content is king, if the video you are creating is crap —and look, sad as it sounds it’s true, if YOU look like crap—no one will be watching for long.

Lindsay Bell

Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

View all posts by Lindsay Bell