5 Video Tips For Beginners: Marketing 101

Posted by Paolo Campagnoli

By the end of this year, 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be attributed to video.

So if you’re not already using video as an integral part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

But video marketing can seem complicated right? Especially if you’re a beginner, on a tight budget, or both!

Luckily, it doesn’t need to be.

Time to get ahead of the game with our video tips for beginners.

Video Tip 1: The rule of thirds in film composition

The first rule is called the “rule of thirds”.

Essentially, the idea is that you should divide your frame into 9 rectangles and try to place the most important part of your composition along the lines, or on the intersection.

Woman sits on a couch with a 9 rectangle grid superimposed on the top.

This will help you to avoid something called negative space.

Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds an object or a person. You don’t want your viewers’ focus to be pulled to this space.

 Woman sits on a couch with negative space to the left

By arranging your frame along this grid, you can help to keep your viewers’ focus on the most important part of the composition.

To help you to remember this rule, activate the grid on your device. Whether you’re using your phone, an entry-level camera or a professional one, you should be able to activate the grid pretty easily.

For example, if you have an iPhone, all you need to do is go to your settings, open the camera settings and activate the “grid” toggle.

The setting menu of an iphone


Video Tip 2: Perspective in video

The second element you need to bear in mind is the “depth of field”.

To understand depth of field, you first need to understand how focus works.

We’ll try to make this as simple as possible. Every lens you use, from the basic lens you have on your phone to the professional cine lens, will only be able to focus on a single point in your frame. But the “dimension” of this single point can be variable according to the “aperture” of your lens.

open and closed camera lenses showing aperture and planes of focus

A wider aperture will have a smaller plane of focus. The more you close or narrow the aperture, the bigger the plane of focus will be. Cinematographers use shallow depth of field as a driver for the attention of the audience.

Depth of field, while not a tricky concept, does require both technical abilities and expensive equipment. But if you’re using a standard phone, you’ll be working with a low aperture. This means that you need a workaround to counteract the technical limits of your equipment.

One cheap trick is to use natural perspective in the scene. Use sequences of columns, straight lines or converging elements. Lines in the environment can help to point out the most important elements of your composition.

a woman stands in an office with perspective lines around her

Video Tip 3: Remembering field size and headroom when filming

The field size is composed of two elements: focal length and field of view.

Focal length: The longer the lens, the less you see of the environment. The shorter the lens, the less natural the face will look.

The hack? Whether you’re using a camera or a phone, try not to use the digital zoom, as the resolution will be rubbish. If you have a 4k camera and you zoom in, your resolution will no longer be 4k.

Field of view: This is basically the proportion between the environment and the character(s). The scope is between an extreme long shot and the “Italian shot”.

a selection of filmmaking shots

No matter which type of shot you choose, there are two general rules that you need to stick to:

  1. Avoid the extreme of the scope (extreme long shot, long shot and close-up or extreme close-up) because they are the most dramatic and technically difficult to manage.
  2. Always try to leave a little bit of space around the head. Remember the first rule of thirds, and always try to put the eyes of your subject along the highest horizontal line. This way, the head will always have enough room on the top.

Tip 4: 180 degree filmmaking rule

The 180-degree rule is a basic guideline regarding the on-screen spatial relationship between a character and another character or object within a scene. By keeping the camera on one side of an imaginary axis between two characters, the first character is always frame right of the second character.

The 180 degree filmmaking rule

Moving the camera over the axis is called “jumping the line” or “crossing the line” and breaking the 180-degree rules by shooting on all sides is known as “shooting in the round”.

Why is the 180-degree rule important?

Because it enables the audience to visually connect with unseen movement happening around and immediately behind the immediate subject. It’s particularly important in the narration of battle scenes.

If you break this rule, especially in an interview, then it’s highly likely you’ll confuse your audience.

You can also use this rule if you need to show a person using an app on their phone.

a woman looking at a smartphone

the screen of a smartphone

Video Tip 5: Lighting and audio

Making a video isn’t just about what you can see in the frame. You also need to consider lighting and sound.

Ask yourself one question before you start: how many videos are you likely to shoot? Will you be making videos every now and then, or are you planning on launching a full-scale video marketing strategy?

If you’re just experimenting with video, then you should rent some basic equipment from a rental service.

If you’re planning to create a video library and have a small budget to invest, then I’d suggest that you buy some entry-level equipment.

Here’s a basic shopping list for getting started with video:

Lighting - Even if you’re shooting with your phone (or, I should say, especially if you’re shooting with your phone), you need to light your frame in the best possible way. You’ll need to use 3 sources of light:

  • Key light - to highlight the form and dimension of a subject
  • Backlight - helps to separate the subject from the background
  • Fill light - used to reduce the contrast of a scene to match the dynamic range of the recording media

back light, fill light and key light 

Audio - Most people think that, when it comes to sound, the camera microphone or the one on their computer will be enough, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

No matter how much time you spend on visuals, your video will seem deeply unprofessional if you don’t take your time to make the audio as good as possible.

I’d highly recommend that you buy a small mic like the Tascam that we use. It’s basically a small mixer with two inputs and an output, and it’s perfect for interviews or small explanatory videos.

So, there you have it! Our video tips for beginners should give you a basic understanding of how to get started with video marketing, even with a low budget or little filmmaking knowledge.

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Written by Paolo Campagnoli