Hello everyone. Our parent company Pixel Mobb does a lot of filming for the fitness and combat sports arena. Recently we had the pleasure to shoot world renowned striking coach and coach to UFC lightweight champion Anthony Showtime Pettis – Duke Roufus. Great guy, great school. We have been shooting (video) for years.
We get asked a lot to critique videos and sessions that school owners and instructors create.
So I wanted to put together a quick list on how to film testimonials.
Now granted a testimonial should look raw, and a bit impromptu. However that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do certain things to make it the absolute best it could be for what it is. There are a few quick steps and tips to cover to make your next testimonial shoot go great.
This is a huge issue, I would assume more than 80% of testimonials are shot using a smart phone. Either a iPhone or a Droid / Windows based phone.
Video cameras in these phones are actually amazing at this point. You really don’t need anything else. But I can’t tell you how many times people send me a video and it is vertical, long ways, with the phone pointed up and down.
NO! Think about your TV or a movie screen its more wide than it is long correct? The moment you post a testimonial long ways, you shot yourself in the foot. Ouch.
For 2 reasons.
One we have grown accustomed to viewing screens where the width is prominent, even in the older days the screen was still wider, not as wide as today but width took precedence over height in viewing.
Two, look at your news feed, at the youtube window, it’s all wide!
When you place a vertical video into a wide size layer you severely cut off all of the screen real estate you have at your disposal. This makes your video super tiny compared to filming it wide. When your video scrolls in the news feed in Facebook it doesn’t stand a chance against wide videos that are above and below it. When you drop it on youtube, it has big huge black bars on the left and right and your video is tiny in the middle so not very professional looking at all. Our eyes are aligned horizontally!
It’s very important for your testimonial to not be shaky or all over the place, especially with smart phone technology which can feel like you are on a boat if it is because the phone is so small and light.
To fix this a affordable $20 dollar solution comes to mind.
I use this everywhere when recording videos. I Have even used it to mount a GoPro to it for cool shots. It will mount to anything, pipe, a door knob, a rear view mirror. It is amazing. and really works well. You can set it up and flip the screen on your phone to position your subject best. Plus they can see themselves. Often you get a better image when you are able to view yourself speaking. It’s called a Joby Gorilla Pod and it works great.
The next order of business is a small light.
Lights are the most important part of filming. Essentially a camera is a light capturer. It can only see with light.
Now mind you most schools have overhead lighting which you may think is enough. Here’s the problem with overhead lighting. Because the light source is overhead it will create harsh shadows under the eyes. Your eye socket up top will cast a shadow down into the eyes. The eyes are the MOST important part of a testimonial! Eyes are how we connect as humans. This shadow is awful. It makes the person look like a zombie, or half dead. That is the LAST thing you want them to look like after a hard work out and they are professing how great your place is.
You can really get away with any front on directional light. It doesn’t have to be mounted on the camera. But mounted directly on the camera often gives a “beatification” result. In fashion shoots they use a ring light or a dish light which is right around the lens this fills in those dreaded shadows on the face and makes the subject look so so so much better.
Check out this image below found on Digital Photography School:
Overhead vs front on light
Here are 2 lights you can use, one is very affordable the other more expensive.
If you are using a DSLR to shoot your testimonials great! This is an amazing light I use all of the time and I will show you some examples of the difference just 1 light front on will produce. These Roto-lights are great, they run off AA batteries and have gels (gels are clear colored plastics that will change the color of lighting… Another blog post for another time). If you are shooting DSLR these are a MUST have.
Now I know most of you are wondering what next? Do I need to edit it? Well. That depends.
Video is best digested in 1-2 minute clips. A long video is sure to have someone off to the next video before you know it unless you have some interesting editing or story line going on.
For basic testimonials a simple few cuts will work well. You could run through it nicely while recording and not have to do any editing. But I am to assume if you are reading this blog post you have already messed around with some editing programs. Be it iMovie, or Sony Vegas, etc. If so, great.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when filming so when you edit you won’t have the jumpy max headroom look of the 90’s (showing my age I know I know!). If you have to cut on set. (We will call on set any location you are filming in, it makes you feel way cooler by saying this 😉 then move the subject back or forward and record the rest. This repositioning will make so much easier in post production. (Post production is any editing AFTER the fact (Post)) If you are unable to do so on set. Then when you are editing, try to scale your video up when you make a cut, so it seems like a zoom has happened rather than a jumpy stutter cut going on.
These 3 steps alone will make a HUGE, HUGE difference in the way your testimonials look. Of course testimonials should look raw, but there are levels of raw.
Presentation is everything hammer down a few of these things and you will have a lot better looking testimonial for the world to see.
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