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SEO | Apr 19
Elise Dopson on May 9, 2019 (last modified on September 21, 2020) • 14 minute read
It’s no surprise why video production is quickly becoming a go-to marketing strategy for eCommerce businesses.
But we wanted to find out how the best, high-quality videos are made.
So, we asked 27 experts to share their must-have equipment and software for creating professional videos.
From tripods to editing software, here’s what they said.
…That’s a smart question to ask–especially when the platform you host your video on could limit the ways you use the content.
We surveyed video experts to find the most popular video hosting platform.
Do you use Vimeo to host your videos like 36% of our respondents do? Grab this free Vimeo template to gain insight into .your top videos by plays, top videos by likes, new engagement, and more.
It can be tough to pick which platform best suits your needs. Each platform has varying capabilities…
…not to mention the video requirements needed to host content on each platform.
For that reason, it’s wise to spend some time researching whether the platforms on your list fit with your video marketing goals before confirming.
For example, Gabriel Marguglio of Nextiny Marketing, told us why his team believes Wistia is the best option for them and their clients, “With the ability to match branding colors, create custom annotation links, add chapters, and finish videos with a custom call-to-action, Wistia fits all of our needs on the marketing side as well as the design side. Additionally, Wistia provides advanced analytics that help us improve our videos that you won’t find in a free platform such as YouTube.”
Need help improving your video marketing results? Request a free video audit from Databox Premier Partner, Nextiny Marketing.
Once you’ve picked your platform, you’re only half-way to creating incredible videos.
A report by Wyzowl found 99% of business currently using video plan to continue this year, with 88% saying they’ll increase their budget.
But if you’re planning to invest cash into your video marketing, you might be wondering how you can get the most out of it.
(After all, the cheaper your video expenses are, the less revenue you’ll need to generate to see a positive ROI from your content.)
Our survey found the majority of businesses funded their video strategy with less than $3,000–but others spent over $10,000 to get started:
We wanted to find out exactly what they spent their cash on–and more importantly, whether they’d purchase the tools, software, and equipment if they were starting over again.
Here are the video tools our experts would recommend:
As you can judge from the survey results published above, it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to start using video.
You probably have the essentials in your back pocket, as Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging explains: “The cameras on [smartphones] today are just as quality as expensive equipment.”
Cass Polzin says the team at Accelity use their smartphones to record video, too: “Our team shoots using our phones. This allows us to create and share videos quickly.”
“Sometimes we’ll use a tripod too, but it’s just as easy to hold your phone – selfie mode – or prop it up. Make sure you’re facing some natural light and you’ll be all set,” Polzin continues.
Continuing the small budget theme, Maurice Hissink of Music-Mindset thinks the most important video tool is a pen and paper: “If anything is more important than video quality, sound quality or editing skills, it is the main story that you want to share in your video.”
Storyboards are the perfect way to do this–something Hissink says should be “as relevant as possible and share[d] in YOUR own voice/style.”
Here’s a storyboard template from Vidyard to get you started:
Hissink concludes: “That will be by far the most important tool.”
Smartphone cameras are impressive.
But sometimes, video content recorded on a smartphone just doesn’t meet your high-quality standards.
For that reason, Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing recommends investing in a DSLR.
McLoughlin’s preference? “The Canon T7i” because “it’s a great entry-level DSLR with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from cameras at double the price point.”
“Depending on your needs you may find yourself upgrading after a year or so, but this is a fantastic bit of kit that will give you a grounding in the basic process of creating quality video content,” McLoughlin explains.
The 20‘s Michael Copeland also recommends a DSLR as the starting point for your video kit–only this time, the Canon 80d because “it allows you to automatically track focus on a moving subject, giving you one less thing to think about when filming.”
However, Copeland thinks the DSLR you choose “can be any number of models; depending on your budget.” Each camera in Canon’s range “can shoot 23.97 frames per second which is the same rate as films, so it gives your videos a professional look.”
“The easiest way to distract from your video and come across as an amateur to your audience is to have shaky footage,” writes Sam Olmstead from Online Optimism.
That’s why Olmstead recommends a “great tripod or stabilization device”–because “even those with the most steady hands will have a hard time keeping completely still.”
Have you added a tripod to your video equipment list? They start from as little as $15 on Amazon.
But Olmstead advises checking the head of your tripod is “resistant to movement. This steady resistance allows you to execute controlled movements when your short requires you to tilt or pan across.”
If you’re using your smartphone to record videos, don’t assume a tripod won’t do any favors for you.
Cristina Ramsey of Point in Time Studios recommends “a quality tripod for your phone” because “having a steady video dramatically increases the video’s production value.”
When you’re watching a video on your device, you want to be able to see what’s happening (and not up your brightness to 100%.)
Michael Wood of Helium Video explains how bad lighting is “one thing that will make your video look amateur over everything else”–hence why Wood recommends to “get yourself a big soft light source like the Aputure C300d Light.”
“The soft light that comes off this LED light will make anyone look great no matter what you’re filming on,” Wood summarizes.
However, “the biggest thing that’s made filming for business videos easier is bringing less gear and making your kit highly mobile and flexible,” says Michael Cardwell, CEO of Digital Brew.
The team at Digital Brew use battery powered LED light panels when filming business videos to make it easier when changing their filming set-ups: “We don’t have to run cable all of the time or constantly be trying to find power sources for them, this has made our job much easier.”
Ryan Vet agrees, and uses these LED lights for the same reason: “The fact they are portable, can be powered by battery or plugged in, have multiple color filters and are dimmable can spice up a video no matter where you shoot.”
Coming in at less than $100 bucks, it’s a bargain piece of equipment to create professional business video.
Your camera probably has a built-in microphone. Why not use that for recording video?
As Groove Commerce‘s Drew Blais explains, “using a quality wireless lavalier microphone system improves both the ease of filming and the quality of your output.”
That’s why Kraig Martin of Storage Vault advises to “never rely on the built-in microphones on the camera or imagine that the editing process will be able to fix bad audio. Often, it can’t. Instead, start yourself off on the right foot by getting the right equipment to begin with.”
So, what are our pros using to record the sound for their video?
“The best, and most cost effective, tool for filming business videos is the Rode SmartLav+, which is a lavalier microphone that records clear audio and saves the files to your phone,” explains Jeff Rizzo of The Slumber Yard.
“It’s easy to use in that it just requires a smartphone and the companion mobile app. From there, you just have to play around with the settings, and within minutes you’ll have clear audio.”
Rizzo summarizes: “We have amassed over 100 million views on YouTube, and we’ve used the SmartLaw+ for about 20 million of them.”
If that’s not a testament to the microphone’s quality, I don’t know what is.
Another microphone made by Rode, Weidert Group‘s Alexandria Sielaff recommends investing in the NTG2 model.
“The condenser shotgun microphone performs beautifully,” Sielaff explains. “[It’s] reliable, and a really great price for the quality you’re getting.”
Got some spare cash to invest in a high-quality microphone?
The best part about this microphone, however, is its ability to capture natural audio.
“Once the mic is set, your host or guest doesn’t have to worry about being too close or having a big mic in their face. They can focus on being the expert,” McLaughlin writes.
Regardless of which microphone you end up with, Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers recommends to “check for reviews on the internet, look for comparisons and make your choice. But, don’t be cheap on microphones. Sound is vital.”
Chances are, you’re either using:
…to store your video.
However, PHLEARN‘s Seth Kravitz thinks an external hard drive is a must-have because “you’ll be working with massive files typically, as it’s not uncommon to have multiple gigabytes of footage just from capturing 20 minutes of footage. You need to protect this footage like your life depends on it!”
Kravitz has a point. Imagine spending an entire day filming content for your video, only for the files to corrupt (or worse, disappear) when it comes to editing.
Not only that, but Kravitz thinks “an external drive allows you to transfer massive files from one computer to another for editing purposes,” and “safely store backup copies of your files away from your main computer.”
According to research by Michigan State University, “eye contact during a conversation is vital. It shows attentiveness and interest in what is being said.”
It’ll come as no surprise to learn that our video pros think you should make eye contact when filming your business videos.
But while forcing eye contact can be uncomfortable, Mark Currie of Chocolate Films has a smart workaround: “Our favorite [trick] is using an Eye Direct system, which projects the interviewers face into the front of the camera so that the interviewee can make eye contact with the interviewer and audience at the same time.”
Not interested in piecing your own gear together? You’re not the only one.
“We’ve started building Soapbox Stations for clients to encourage them to create more videos without the hassle of figuring out what plugs into what. It consists of a mounted camera, light, and microphone and is equipped with all of the cabling and converters needed to have an all-in-one mobile studio. It makes a long list of equipment suggestions look a lot less intimidating when they see they have an option to have a portable bundle that you can plug right into your laptop. This is especially useful when we’re trying to get multiple people inside of a company to start shooting marketing video from their home offices,” shared Gabriel Marguglio of Nextiny Marketing.
You’ve got a definitive list of video equipment that will make it easier for your team to create marketing videos.
Now, let’s take a look at the video software our pros are using to make their life easier.
“Sure, we can film fancy videos for our marketing, but sometimes we need to explain a process to our co-workers who aren’t sat nearby, or just need something they can review multiple times over,” explains Andrew Allsop of Wunderkind Agency.
Allsop’s team record their screens using Loom to do this: “I can fire up Loom, show them exactly what I’m trying to achieve by my actions on the screen and by explaining them and talking through my microphone.”
“[CloudApp] is great for shooting clips while at our desks and quickly sharing them online or internally,” Alonzo continues.
However, if you’re looking for a simpler version that works with Wistia, take a look at Soapbox–a tool Ironpaper‘s Brian Casey uses to “create quick videos to send to clients or to be able to walk through anything on my screen.”
Editor’s note: If you’re using Soapbox to record videos, check how they’re performing by using our Wistia Performance Overview dashboard:
“The Google Chrome extension makes it so I can start recording a video in seconds,” Casey explains.
“I can send a video in advance to a client meeting showing the strategy and ideas behind a tactic. This has helped have more productive client meetings in less time.”
…And we all know how important that is.
“It’s like Canva for videos,” which is why Cvetkovic’s team use the tool to “make promotional and explainer videos to illustrate blog and social media posts.”
But, the best part about the software is the fact “what takes hours on Premiere or After Effects takes minutes on Biteable.”
If you’re creating text-based videos, Rocketium is the software of choice for Loclweb‘s Jorge Sheffy: “I can take a blog post I wrote and turn it into a nice video that looks good and doesn’t take a lot of time to create.”
“It has been a great tool to easily create quick videos cheaply,” Sheffy explains.
Animated videos might form your video marketing strategy, too–especially when animated explainer videos can increase conversion rates by as much as 20%.
Robison thinks animated videos “can be a great way to create lower-budget videos that are just as effective, if not more, for certain topics”–and that Wideo is the perfect tool to help you create them.
Donnachie continues: “Camtasia has helped us make easy edits to our video files and add awesome overlays such as ‘time remaining’ bars, captions, and other dynamic elements.”
But Tom Milcent of Markentive, on the other hand, does “everything in Adobe Premiere, as it [is] a complete and very professional software that allows us to do everything with need for our videos of conferences, interviews, talks, [and] events that we do for our marketing.”
Don’t feel down if you can’t afford the software we’ve mentioned here.
The most important thing is a willingness to try video, as Juli Durante of SmartBug Media explains: “Video CAN be an intense investment, but getting started doesn’t have to be.”
“If you can create good quality, off the cuff video and start seeing results, it’s validated the need for more equipment or a higher video budget.”
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