Lights! Camera! Action!

It seems small businesses are finally starting to come around when it comes to utilizing the power of social media for their business.

Brokerages and agents can’t keep away from sharing news on facebook, tweeting with their followers, enhancing their photos on Instagram and creating eye-catching photo pin boards on Pinterest. But, where are all the videos? What about Youtube?

Youtube is the number two ranked search engine on the web, behind Google (Youtube is owned by and is a subsidiary of Google). Four billion videos are viewed every day and over 800 million unique visitors visit Youtube each month. So why aren’t businesses taking advantage of this incredibly popular, free video sharing platform?

The unfortunate reality is many brokers, marketing managers and REALTORS® are intimidated by the thought of in-house video production, believing it to be expensive, complicated and time consuming. However, in today’s multi-media, tech-savvy world, video is easier to create than ever before – and is essential to a well-rounded marketing plan.

How and where does one get started with video? There are a number of options to consider when creating video for your business, including:

• Choosing the right equipment
• Creating the best audio
• Getting the best background and lighting
• Content/what to shoot
• Video editing and post production software
• Uploading and sharing

Equipment:
Thankfully, we live in a tech-filled world where smaller is better. Long gone are the days when 20 pounds of heavy steal and bulky plastic rested unnaturally on your shoulder, only to get a shaky, blurred shot of your spouse asking if it’s recording yet.

Two more popular options on the market today for shooting quick and easy HD video is your smart phone and/or a DSLR camera. However, if you’re already using a different video camera that works for you, keep using it!

Don’t be fooled, your smart phone camera packs a mean HD video punch. Five to ten years ago, it would’ve cost thousands of dollars in camera equipment to get the quality of your handheld device – so don’t take it for granted.

Recording video with your smartphone is great when you’re on the go and want to shoot a quick video to email to a client or even upload to Youtube (see sidebar on how to upload to Youtube).

Video editing apps are also available to adjust the footage, add special effects and titles, or edit on the go. There are even a few video “home tour” apps available to create your own, neatly produced video home tour (see editing software sidebar for details).

There are a few drawbacks when recording video with your smartphone:

1.)Smartphones are small and handling them requires extra control so footage doesn’t end up shaky.

2.)Editing video on a small device is not ideal. Some apps have limited capabilities. The small screen makes editing and trimming clips harder.

3.)The internal microphone is not as powerful and flexible as a handheld mic.

If you’re thinking of going for a more controlled, professional style look and feel of your video, then the DSLR is the camera for you.

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. This means light travels through a single lens and a mirror is used to reflect a portion of that light through the view finder – hence the name single-lens reflex. It sounds complex, but the good news is you don’t need to understand how it works to understand how to use it.

Originally manufactured and marketed as still photo cameras, videographers and film makers are now using them in their practice – and not just small fries either. In 2010, the season finale of the hit US drama House was shot entirely with a DSLR camera.

The benefits of using a DSLR are outstanding. Along with high quality HD, 1080p video capabilities, DSLR cameras give user’s manual control over the image that no other camera in its price range can offer. Users can control the aperture, the shutter speed, focus, ISO and frame size. ‘Traditional’ cameras that do this cost upwards of $6,000, and cheaper camcorders don’t offer this control.

DSLR cameras also record video on a simple SD card. To import footage to your computer, just remove the card from the camera and insert it into your computer’s SD slot. Your video footage is automatically put into separate files and folders within the SD card file, which can be easily saved to your computer for editing and uploading.

The only drawback of using a DSLR is that the audio isn’t ideal. However, if you record in a quiet room with limited exterior noise, the audio should come out O.K.

The two more affordable DSLR cameras for shooting video are the Nikon D5100 and the Canon Rebel T3i. You can find both of these cameras on Amazon for around $500.

Audio:

Smartphone:
If you’re recording video with your smart phone, make sure you hold the device close to your body so you get the best audio levels. There are even inexpensive microphones you can purchase for your smartphone to increase the audio quality. For iPhones, check the Apple store. For Android and other smartphone devices, Amazon will have what you’re looking for.

DSLR:
When recording audio from a DSLR you want to keep your voice levels at a medium; which means, in order for the camera to clearly capture the audio you need to keep the camera close to your body – about 1-2 feet. Loud vocals will create an incoherent, jumbled sound.

If you’re looking to enhance the audio quality using a DSLR camera, your best option would be to record audio on a separate recording device. You can pick up a simple, audio recorder from your local electronics store for around $75-$100. You can also attach a microphone to the audio recorder for more control and/or if you’re conducting interviews. However, to do this effectively you will have to sync up the audio and video separately in editing.

Lighting and background:
They say lighting can make or break a video. When setting up the background and lighting of your video, take the following into consideration:

-Avoid backgrounds with a lot of motion or sound. Instead, use an empty office. It’s less noisy and you have better control of sound and lighting.

-Never use fake plants or other office “props” as a background – it looks chincy and outdated. Also, avoid off-white walls as they look boring and dull. Instead, set up a colored paper background (by pinning or taping it to the wall). You can buy a roll of seamless colored paper from your local photography supply store for around $45.

-Filming with overhead lights can create nasty shadows and glare. Instead, turn off the lights and try to block out as much outside light as you can. Bring in your own video lighting – You don’t need to have a top-of-the-line lighting kit to make people look great on camera. You can make your own lights with a quick trip to home depot by purchasing a few scoop clip lights, some daylight color balanced CFL bulbs, and some spring clips to attach the lights to a stand or desk (you can pick up cheap stands on Amazon or a photography store). If the lights are too strong and you need to diffuse them, simply tape a coffee filter to the front of it. For more lighting tips, visit wisita.com/blog/your-first-lighting-kit/

-Finally, make sure to create some space between you and your background. Take two steps forward from your backdrop to create a more balanced feel and to reduce shadows.

Creating Content:
Ok, so now you have your camera, the lights are on and you’re ready to press record. What do you record?! Creating content can be a challenge, especially when you’re new to the video marketing world. When considering what to shoot, think outside of the box – what would you want to watch?

Let’s take for example a video update for your clients. Instead of just saying, “Hi, this is ______ and I have three more listings to show you! Call me at 555-5555”, try to make it interactive so you’re not so much a talking billboard and more of a helpful friend.

An example of this would be to host a weekly or monthly video, updating your clients (and potential clients) about consumer housing news, tips for their home, or have a past client come on and interview him/her about the process of finding their dream home. The purpose is to engage the viewer!

Another option would be to do a video home tour of one of your listings, taking your clients on an exciting virtual tour! With video tours, you want to make sure you pan the camera from left to right (slowly) so the viewer gets a full view of the room. The key is to keep the video moving. (Tourzilla is a great smartphone app for creating home tours)

Also, don’t be afraid to be goofy! People like to be entertained, if you like to dress up as Iron Man during Halloween give some “Marvel-ous Halloween decorating tips” in an Iron Man mask. They may think you’re a dork – but they’ll remember it!

Finally, the length of the video should be a top priority. Remember, we humans do not have long attention spans. To keep the viewer fully engaged, try and set the maximum length of your video around 1 minute. Any more than that and you’ll start losing their attention. If you feel you can’t do that, break up your videos into chapters (ex. Part 1).

Video editing and post-production:
There are a number of video editing apps available to make editing seamless and quick on your smartphone. Here are some top editing apps available for iPhone and Android devices:

Socialcam: Think of Socialcam as an Instagram for web videos. Not only can you add filters to your videos and then share it with your social networks, Socialcam also lets you watch your uploaded videos anywhere on any device.

Capture: Capture is YouTube’s very own video-editing app. You can shoot and edit videos from your smartphone in 1080p HD quality and instantly share your final product with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Viddy: What sets this short-video app apart is that users can only film their videos up to 30 seconds – making users be selective of what they shoot. Like Socialcam, this app also has multiple filters that help enhance the look and feel of the video as well as more audio tracks for sound effects.

Magisto: Magisto is easy to use: All you have to do is upload your video, select your theme and music, and the app will do the work for you. It will automatically select the best scenes from your videos and create short videos.

Tourzilla: Tourzilla is smartphone app that allows real estate agents to create a video virtual tour using their smartphones by pressing just one button. Unlike many other video recording and editing apps, Tourzilla is made specifically for real estate.

Editing video from other camera devices, such as the DSLR or any other standard camera, requires you to download editing software to your computer. However, there are a number of affordable editing programs available that offer practical tools for you to import, organize, edit and share videos quickly and easily.

Windows Live Movie Maker – Quickly add photos and footage from your PC or camera into Movie Maker, then fine tune your movie just the way you want it. You can move things around, speed it up or slow it down. Movie Maker adds transitions and effects automatically so your movie looks polished and professional. Once your video is finished, Movie Maker allows you to share it online on Facebook, YouTube or other social networking and video sharing sites with just a click of a button. Note: this is for Windows users only.

iMovie: iMovie is Apple’s basic video editing application, aimed for the amateur consumer. It allows Apple users to create movies from a number of different sources including digital video cameras, DV-encoded files, and pictures. The features allow the user to add music to their video, add transitions between clips, and add titles and other effects.

Wondershare: Wondershare Video Editor is well-known for its intuitive and easy to touch features, as well as in-depth tools you can also access if necessary, such as picture-in-picture, speed up/slow down, voice change, etc. It’s easy to use and inexpensive to download.

Magix Movie Edit Pro: After transferring your recorded content to your computer, the Magix Edit Pro MX takes all the hard work out of getting great looking videos out for the world (or your family/friends) to see. The built in tutorials help any user level easily navigate all the functions of the software.

Uploading and sharing:
Once you have fined-tuned your video in editing, it’s time to upload and share on Youtube! To begin, you need to visit youtube.com and create an account – it’s free and easy to set up.

If you are uploading video from your smartphone, you will want to download the Youtube app. Once the app is downloaded, find the video you want to upload and send simply upload it to your Youtube account! Youtube will ask you to create a title and description of the video. Just follow the steps and within a few minutes your video will be ready for broadcast (and to share) on Youtube. Your video will have its own link to share with your clients and friends.

Uploading a video from your computer to Youtube is very simple. Once your video is finished and ready for Youtube, visit Youtube.com (if you don’t have an account, create one), click the upload tab on Youtube’s home screen, find the video file from your computer and simply click O.K. to upload. Youtube will again ask you to create a title and description for your video. Once it’s finished uploading, Youtube will provide you with a link to watch and share your video.

That’s all – good luck with your video production and marketing! If you run into any trouble creating or uploading video, just Google it!

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