As you may be aware, we have created some great safety videos over the last year. You may be surprised to learn that making great safety videos is not as difficult as it looks nor is it very expensive. We did most of ours with just one person and when we were really lucky, we had two people. If you ever wanted to create your own safety videos in-house, then here’s a little guide to help you.
(Remember, you can always hire us to help you too.)
Get the right gear
Yes, you are going to need some video cameras. The world is moving to digital SLR’s, but the they are expensive. And if you want to make great videos you are going to need at least 3 cameras. So we recommend keeping the budget small and going with Full-HD camcorders, not SLR’s. You can pick these up at a variety of big box and electronic stores.
HD Camcorders are small, light, easy to use and great for portability. Not to mention at just $250 bucks a piece, you can get 3 of these for the price of just one digital SLR. Find out which one I use.
You are going to need light and a lot of it. Cameras just don’t have the range that the human eye does. Many people say to pick up a few halogen lights from your local hardware store, but halogen is hot. So is incandescent and tungsten. You might think we could use LED’s, but LED’s are expensive and they don’t put out a whole lot of light, so you need a lot of them. These lights can also create a 60Hz flicker that shows up on the video screen making your videos less than watchable.
Get a proper “daylight balanced” compact florescent light from a real photography supplier. Believe it or not, you will most likely need 6 to 8 of these lights (creating an equivalent of 2,500 watts), but I found a great place where you can get these for just $23 a piece. Find out where.
Remember, you are going to to need lights for the background, overhead lights for hair and then a variety of lights to focus on your cast.
Remembering your lines is difficult – very difficult. And since we are doing this on a budget, we don’t have the resources to hire someone to hold cue cards, plus cue cards are terrible for the environment. You most likely have an iPad or know someone that does. You can simply download a free teleprompter app from iTunes and you just saved yourself $1,200. Set it next to your camera and now your looking like a pro. Find out which one I use.
Paint the room
Great videos start with great visuals and that means having a nice background. Not to mention, you want to convey the organization’s brand. Get some nice flat paint from your local hardware store. Forget the glossy stuff, it reflects light back to the camera and creates hot spots. If you can paint a wall, then you can grab a muslin background from a photo house for around $100. Find out what we use.
Sound the Most Important Part of Video
Sound is more important than video every day of the week. How many times have you sat through poor video quality – several times? But how many times have you sat through a movie with terrible sound – never! The sound quality of camcorders stink. Great sound can be achieved in many different ways – from mic’ing up each cast member or using a shotgun mic to capture two people’s voice. There’s even portable recorders for going in the field – all of these options are better than your camcorders microphone. Find out which one I use.
With multiple video streams and an audio stream, you are going to want to create professionally synced videos unlike the days of Godzilla. To do this, use a clapboard. This device allows you to create a spike in the audio tracks that you can then “line up” – making your video look like a million dollar production. Find out what we use.
You are going to need some editing software and the simple stuff just isn’t going to do it for you if you are using multiple cameras. For a few bucks, you can pick up some professional level software that let’s you edit multiple cameras, add audio tracks and the like. Find out what we use.
Want really moving videos, then you need to add some sound effects. Professional effects add great depth and help tell your story. Getting quality recordings is always the problem, but we found a great place to get hundreds of high quality FX for cheap. Find out what we use.
Write a great script
David Letterman uses them and so does just about every other actor. No doubt the greats use it as a guide rather than a verbatim narration. Writing great scripts can be as simple as Larry David does it – give one or two words that the actor is suppose to work in or as complex as Steven Spielberg does it – having full lines available for the actors. Either way, getting something on paper is always a great way to check your flow and make sure that you are covering all the important parts of the training.
Get A, B and Tons of Other Footage
Videos that focus on one person for 12 minutes are boring. You need to tantalize your audience. So, how do you do that? Easy! Add some footage of things that help you tell your story. Are you doing a video on ladders – then get out a film some ladders. Film them where they are stored, climb up one with your camera and shoot down the ladder, film some on top of the trucks as they drive out of the parking lot. You get the idea.
Putting It Together
Now that you have filmed all the footage, all you have to do is take it into your computer and cut it up. Line up all your tracks, clip off the ends, add some menus and sound effects. Then export it to a DVD or video file for Youtube, Vimeo or the web.
Just remember, you can always call us for a help.