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How to shoot a professional video on a budget

Video is critical to your marketing efforts. It is possible to create a great professional video representing your brand well on a budget by doing it yourself or working with an agency.

If you hire a professional, you will obviously get a better result and a great representation for your brand; they will have a range of equipment that will give you more flexibility and create special effects. If you are on your own, you can still get a great result and a video that works for you if you are super clear on your audience and your message and build your video based on that. You may need to accept some compromises, but you can produce a high-quality video with some planning and practice.

Production Basics

If you’re ready to try your skill at producing a video or working with an agency to create your video, there are a few basics to consider. Nothing says “amateur” like low audio quality and poor lighting. Try to balance your vision for your video with what you are willing to spend. Sometimes less is more, and it’s better to go for crystal clear sound, great lighting, and clear imagery than to blow the budget on special effects, expensive actresses, or exotic locations.

Put quality over quantity. Keep it simple and clean, and focus on your message and your target audience. Don’t get too technical, and practice makes perfect. Remember, your video is about storytelling, so concentrate on polishing your message and your script until it’s pitch-perfect.


Affordable Equipment

You don’t need to purchase lots of pricey equipment to create a quality video. One alternative is to rent out equipment rather than buy it. This can be a significant saving and will let you test out various lenses and equipment. Camera equipment can be pricey.

Camera: Newer smartphones have excellent cameras. If you have an iPhone 6 (or similar Samsung) or later, that should be fine for producing your video. If you have the money to spend on equipment, you can get a good full-frame camera for under $1000 or a good DSLR for around $600. If you are doing action filming, a GoPro HERO is under $300.

Lighting: is critical. Poor lighting in your video is the hallmark of an amateur. You should be well lit, and don’t put the light behind you. There are several options for lighting. Let’s start with free. Natural lighting is always the best option, and the sun is free! Try to use as much natural lighting as possible. You can add more light with a table lamp or other light but be careful. If it is not fluorescent, it can cast an unnatural yellow tint on your video.

When you are recording, always face the light source, so it casts your face in the light. Lighting behind you will put you in silhouette. If you have some budget, you can get a lighting kit for a little as $29, and it can make a huge difference. Good lighting can make anyone look good! If you have a larger budget, invest in a ring light and light stand.

Sound: Many filmmakers say that poor sound automatically means a poor film. They’re not wrong! You may not notice good sound in a video, but you certainly will notice the poor sound. It will ruin your video and represent your brand poorly, so this is a place you may want to invest. A good microphone is well worth the investment. The audio in your smartphone should be fine if you are filming in a quiet room when there’s no chance of background noise or wind. Always run a soundcheck to pick up on any background noise you may not notice with the naked ear.

Most desktops or laptops don’t have good enough sound but check it out. If you have a small budget, you can get a lavalier microphone for your phone for around $79.00. They work great, especially if you are filming outdoors or are a few feet from the phone. You can also purchase a splitter so you can have two microphones for doing interviews. Avoid putting the microphone too close to your head. They pick up everything! Remember to take “room tone” no matter what sound equipment you use. Simply put, this means recording about a minute of background sound in whatever location you’re at. Trust us; you’ll thank us later when you’re editing everything together.

Tripod: Unless you’re going for a hand-held look, make sure to have a steady hand, or better yet, use a tripod when setting up shots. If you can’t get a tripod, place your camera on a block or stack of books to stabilize it. Tripods start as low as $10.00. A more expensive model will support more weight, like a DSLR or iPad, while the cheaper ones are designed for phones.

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Tips for Looking Professional on a Budget

  • If you’re not using a tripod, zoom out wide and hold it steady as possible. The wider the shot, the less obvious any movement will be. As an alternative, have your presenter up close to the camera.
  • Frame it up! It’s a rookie mistake to position your head center frame. Your head should be positioned at the top of the frame. This will better fill out the screen.
  • Try not to use a wall as the background. Look for something that adds depth. Try to find something that adds to the story and has layers. It’s perfectly fine to use items from your home or office as your backdrop.
  • Set up a branded background to make a professional-looking video. You can use seamless backdrop paper in our brand colors to reinforce your brand.

Considering Costs

It is impossible to determine what a professional video would cost. A live-action video could range from $15,000 to 100,000, while animated videos can be more affordable. If you plan on working with a full-service video agency, you’ll need to provide them with a budget as a starting point. Get involved from the start in pre-production to help save money.

Remember, time is money. So limit the number of revisions you make by staying involved in the pre-production stage, so there are no surprises. The video company will be able to help identify opportunities to reduce the budget. A good video can be a substantial investment, but it should last long, represent your brand well, and convert better than a poor video.

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