What do we mean by composition?

Just like anything in this world, we enjoy to see aesthetically pleasing things. Some of that may be built into our OCD, such as lining up your pens in a straight line or making sure your blankets are perfectly folded.

These aesthetics that we enjoy so much, branches directly into the video production world. There’s even a science in the way DP’s (Directors of Photography) light their scenes, using complimentary colors or the opposite for that matter, making a scene look gross in a beautiful way… I swear it makes sense!

Next to the way the scene is lit though is the composition of the scene, and this is insanely important when we think of how we produce videos even on a smaller level.

What is good composition?

When we discuss what makes good composition, there’s a lot of “Rules” and sometimes we can even break those rules depending on our creativity.

However, composition begins at the lowest level of the “Rule of Thirds”

The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds applies across things we see in our everyday life: Television/movies, paintings, photos, designs etc. We’re taking an image or creating an image and imagining our frame has 9 equal parts spaced by two horizontal lines and vertical lines creating a tick-tack-toe design over our image.

This helps us make sure our image is well balanced in each third (Vertically and horizontally) which creates a much more appealing image.

Using Thirds In Video

When filming, we want to always be conscious of where we’re placing our subjects, or ourselves, for that matter. If we’re filming an interview for example, there’s generally two positions on the from we’d want to place our subject.

Framing Left to Right

In the image above, our subject is framed on the left side or better yet the “Left Third.” In an interview scenario, our producer or interviewer would be standing to the right of the camera from this angle so that the subject is looking across the frame to answer questions. Also note the nice lead room and head space in this image.

We’re not cutting him off on the left side nor are we cutting his head off thus creating good “Head Room.” Ideally, we’d have more fall off in the background instead of a wall but hey… we’re just learning some basics here.

Framing Right to Left

Just like above we have nice lead room in our shot but this time we’ve just switched the subject to the reverse side. This means our producer + key light flip sides as well to the left side of the camera and bam! We’re ready to go.

Now that we have a general understanding of these traditional interview framings, what if we were shooting ourselves?

Center On Framing

In this image, our subject is in the center of the frame – but note the equal amount of space on the left side of the image as well as the right.

This frame is perfectly fine!

If you’re self-shooting, ideally you’d use this frame, unless you were leaving room on the left or right side of your frame for graphics to be inserted in post-production.

Now, Practice

You have the tools to go practice this everyday! We all have cell phones, so when you go to take pictures of either a skyline/landscape/group photos or anything at all – practice utilizing these rules!

Capturing a well composed shot is most of the battle when we talk about getting creative with our images.

How often do we find ourselves watching videos where the talent (Or person on camera) is one color that looks correct, but then the sky is either insanely blue or the walls look like they’re pure red? Kelvin, that’s why.

One of the core principles of video production is knowing our color temperatures, because if we don’t we stand to look foolish.

Kelvin (K) is the base unit of temperature in the System of Units, and it’s how we light scenes. Let’s start with the three core temperatures we find around us each day, then we’ll dive into what happens if we try to mix and match these color temperatures.

Light Bulbs

Light bulbs (Incandescent) register in at 3200k, a bit cooler than let’s say it’s nearby neighbor the candlestick coming in at a low 1900k. They’re obviously the most common among the practical lights around us each day and in our homes.

Fluorescent Bulbs

The dreaded fluorescent lights that we all know and love! It’s even hilarious that one of the bulbs in the photo (Right side) is even the wrong color temperature compared to its companions. These are the lights in your workspace/warehouse etc. They’re older, and more than likely losing their jobs to LED lights, however it’s still a standard measurement on the Kelvin scale because these lights come in at 4200k (Whereas LED lighting is either single temperature or bi-color temperature which we’ll get into later).

Daylight (Bulbs and/or just the big blue sky above you)

Now we of course go to the big bulb in the sky for our final core light source, daylight comes in at a cool 5600k. Although the other lights remain their color temperature throughout the day, daylight can ~shift~ in theory. If the sun goes down, you’re still in daylight however the shade and cloudy weather have they’re own color temperatures at that point shifting well past 6000k.

So What Does This All Mean?

Color temperature is extremely important when we decide to think about our video production/lighting setups. Mixing color temperatures can add some cool effects … sometimes … but let’s leave that up to professional Director of Photographers and keep things simple for newcomers.

When shooting video, we want to try and match our key light/fill lights with the ambient light around us. So for example, if I’m out on the street filming on a beautiful sunny day, I’d be an idiot to key light with a incandescent bulb with a 3200k temperature.

Here’s why

If I were to key my subject with an incandescent source and match my camera to that color temperature, the outside world around my subject would look like we were underwater.

Everything around my source that was being hit with 5600k daylight would soon wash to blue and the image is ruined (Unless it’s on purpose of course).

So when purchasing LED panel lighting which has become extremely popular due to their low costs, be aware if they’re a single color temperature light or bi-color, meaning that they can be adjusted from ~3200k–5600k~ to match your main light sources in your surroundings.

For many of us, we understand what it takes to record some quick clips and post them on the internet for our followers.

But what needs to be considered is, are we posting content that our followers even want to watch?

For some, i.e. influencers and celebrities, it doesn’t really matter if their video quality is perfect, they’ll still attract viewers.

For small business owners though, these things matter. Imagine scrolling through your Facebook feed to see a dimly lit/poor sounding video of the CEO of a marketing company … yeah you’re not stopping in your tracks to watch it.

Improving the quality of what we produce is extremely important for the consistency of videos and improving on viewers participating in viewing them. Let’s dive into why using video is important before diving into the meat and potatoes!

Why Video Content is Important in 2020

It’s no secret that video rules the internet these days. Whether it’s a TikTok video or a series on YouTube, we’re constantly consuming video in some form.

Let’s Look at Some Statistics on Video*

  • 81% of businesses are using some form of video production for their marketing needs.
  • Mobile video consumption rises by nearly 100% each year.
  • By 2020, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017
  • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text.

Okay so what does this all mean?

Let’s take a look at how these stats immediately play into video marketing.

  • Videos attach 300% more traffic and help to nurture leads.
  • A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video.
  • Video increases organic search traffic on a website by 157%
  • 25% of companies publish videos every week.
  • 97% of marketers say video has helped users gain a better understanding of their products and services.

Just viewing these quick statistics, it is undeniable that video rules the web – and it’s even more eye opening for business owners that they can no longer sit on their thumbs and refuse to up their production quality.


Making Our Videos Better 

There seems to be a common fear and even more-so misunderstanding of why certain videos are “Good” and others “Stink”.

The 3 key Production Techniques

More importantly we’re going to talk about how we can use the simple tools around us to make our video quality sky rocket.

1. Audio

First and foremost, audio is the biggest factor in immediately upping your video quality. No one … and I mean NO ONE wants to sit through a video that has poor audio. Whether it’s outdoors and windy/the dogs are barking in the background/for some reason the person recording the video is sitting next to their AC – it’s just unbearable. There are some EASY solutions for audio and it should be the first thing on your checklist when building up your new personal “production” house.

Lavalier Microphones

A lavalier microphone or lavalier (also known as a lav, lapel  mic, clip mic, body mic, collar mic, neck mic or personal mic) is a small microphone used for television, theatre, and public speaking applications in order to allow for hands-free operation.

These microphones can be used for our personal videos ALWAYS. Sometimes in a more formal corporate production/commercial or in film and TV we’ll of course hide this type of microphone, but for us who cares if we see it?

These microphones are excellent and now even come with smart phone compatibility!

Shotgun Microphone

A shotgun microphone is a highly directional microphone that must be pointed directly at its target sound source for proper recording.

These microphones are a little bit more on the pricy side, they also typically require an XLR hookup. However, if we learn how to utilize these, they provide a beautiful bass-filled natural sound for our videos.

Snowball Microphone

There’s a company called Blue Designs which created the famous snowball microphone. This style of mic is traditionally awesome looking, and the quality of the audio is spectacular. With this setup, we’ll see the microphone in our frame but it’s pretty darn cool, so depending on what video content you’re producing, it’s huge in the vlogging/podcast world.

We should always be attempting to avoid using our on-camera and or phone built in microphone. We want our videos to be attractive, but that doesn’t just mean the image quality. What does it matter if you have a 4k image if the person viewing your video can’t stand the sound of your voice?

2. Composition

Video composition is an easy game changer and once you understand it, you’ll subconsciously start grabbing epic framing! Let’s look at a few examples of good and of course, bad composition.

We’re making the video aesthetically appealing by learning how to properly frame ourselves. It’s the little things that make the big difference in separating you from your competition.

3. Lighting

Just like audio, lighting is one of the major keys when we look at improving our video content. Dark, grainy videos are gross, and people don’t want to watch them or you for that matter. We’re not saying you need to spend thousands of dollars – but a few hundred (IF THAT) will go a long way! Let’s break down some of our frames.

Key Light

Depending on your composition (Discussed above) Will determine your lighting set up. We can see in camera that this man is framed left, so the key light will come from the right side of our camera (and vice versa if he were framed on the right side). The key light is our main source, and most powerful light to make sure that we look good and full of life!

Fill Light

We don’t want our web videos for advertising to be too dramatic, we’ll want to add a fill light for this. The fill light is designed to just lift the dark area of the face caused by the intensity of your key light. There are two ways to approach the fill light, for a fully even lit face, match the key light intensity. Or, for a more artsy and contrasty look, maybe take the light intensity from 100% to 25-50% to just lift that portion of the face a little bit.

Let’s look at some lighting alternatives, let’s say if we’re in a rush or can’t quite afford a setup just yet.

Practical lighting

Practical lighting is the lighting all around us. The lamp on your desk, the big window in your kitchen – a light source that is around us in everyday scenarios that we use to our advantage. So start to experiment and see what works! But remember, harsh light is not flattering, so find a nice soft light source.

So, after seeing how practicals can be used, there is no longer any reason for dark and grainy videos!

In Review

There are simple techniques that can be implemented so that we can begin to produce better videos on our own. Sometimes a full on production team may be needed for larger projects, but if you can master these 3 key areas of producing a video, you’re already doing more than most of your competitors and it’s going to show!