Hey everyone, it’s Jay from Wikimotive and – as promised – we’re back to talk about some affordable and easy-to-use equipment that can help make it more convenient for you to create high-quality video content, all on your own.
Now, before we start, I want to make one thing clear. There are two types of valuable multimedia content. The first is polished, professional-quality content with strong production value. The second is homegrown content. There’s a time and a place for both in your dealership’s marketing strategy, but it’s the latter that we’re going to talk about today.
It’s economical in terms of both cost and time and can be produced with minimal equipment, and relatively little technical know-how. Are there limitations in terms of what you can create? Of course. But you might be surprised at just how far you can go, at very little cost.
Before You Buy
It’s become a natural reflex to check Amazon when making purchases, and some of the equipment we’re going to talk about can be found there. But if you’re watching this with the intention of turning around time-sensitive content related to everything going on in the world right now – your Prime Membership isn’t going to help you. With some Amazon delivery dates stretching out weeks, we’re going to throw out a quick plug and recommend that you consider visiting B&H (bhphotovideo.com) to ensure the quickest possible delivery. We have no stake in this – we just want to share what’s worked well for us.
Smartphone Camera Use 101
Social media apps like Snapchat have reinforced the use of vertical, portrait-style framing – which is fine within that context. However, if you’re looking to create higher quality content, be sure to use a horizontal, landscape-style framing. This helps you to achieve a standard 16:9 aspect ratio, and will help your content to look more polished.
Also, make sure your camera lenses are clean. This is especially true of your front-facing camera, which can become easily smudged through regular swiping
If your dealership has digital video equipment on-hand, that’s great – but as we mentioned in this past week’s video, there is convenience to be found in utilizing your smartphone). After all, your phone is almost always with you – right there in your pocket.
Now, we film this series in HD on a high-end digital camera. But to display the difference in quality you might expect by using your smartphone, we’re going to throw up a split screen comparison, filmed on HD camera verses my own phone. Is there a difference? Of course, but normally you wouldn’t have the side-by-side footage to emphasize the difference. In most circumstances, smartphone quality is completely acceptable.
But your phone does have some very clear limitations. Some will be environmental, some will have to do with you as the user, and some will be based around the phone’s capabilities themselves. So let’s talk about some easy and affordable ways to sidestep those pitfalls.
You will never regret the purchase of a good tripod and compatible smartphone mount. It should be one of your basic purchases as it will allow you to stabilize any static shots – regardless of your lighting setup. Tripods range in terms of weight capacity, material construction and cost, but if you’re shooting on a smartphone you don’t need a 55 lb weight capacity. The only recommendation we do have, is to find a model with a max height of no less than 62-inches. This is especially important if you want to present taller subjects in a flattering way. Depending on your needs, you could find a suitable tripod with smartphone mount on B&H’s website for less than $40.
Another useful tool is a blog-style extension pole tripod, like this one from PGYTech. Not only can it serve as a desk-mounted tripod, and selfie stick, but it can help to create more dynamic framing, while eliminating that awkward selfie-style phone hold. This model right here only runs about $32.
But what if your content is going to incorporate movement? Stabilization is one of the most commonly overlooked factors of amateur video production. While you may not notice excessive bounce and travel of footage during filming, that kind of movement can be incredibly disruptive to the viewer, especially when viewed on a larger screen. This can be remedied by using a smartphone gimbal. Depending on the complexity of the model, you can expect pricing to run $100 and well upwards of that. When it comes to gimbals, our preferred manufacturer is Zhiyun (Zee-yoo-en) but you can find a wealth of in-stock options from m them, DJI and other manufacturers on B&H’s website. You can also get started without evecrossing the $140 mark.
So, let’s do a quick spend-check here. To create a stable shot, you’re looking at $72 and up, with the most expensive component being the 100% optional gimbal (which is only needed for motion shots).
When it comes to environmental challenges, one that’s easily overlooked is lighting. It’s not uncommon to look around your decently-lit showroom, or your lot during daylight hours and assume that you’re “good to go”. It’s a mistake that I, myself, have made. And while you’re not expected to have professional-quality lighting in all situations, if you’re filming an important message – like the steps you’re taking during the COVID-19 crisis – you need to aim a little higher.
There are a lot of affordable options worth exploring when it comes to video lighting. From soft box lighting to LED lighting to the increasing popularity of ring lights that are used for vlog-style content, it comes down to finding the right fit for your filming style.
In these videos, we use green screen to put me in front of this fancy blue background; and that requires far more lighting than most of you would be using to create content for your dealership. So, let’s take a step into the real world for a minute so I can show you options in a more realistic way.
If you simply want to enhance the lighting on your subject and/or your shooting environment, there are some great affordable options out there when it comes to LED lighting. Neewer is a great supplier that we’ve had a lot of luck with; in fact we’re utilizing a set of their dimmable 40-watt NL660 lights right now. The settings can be modified to create a warmer or cooler tone, and the units can be powered through either plug or battery, making them incredibly portable. Here’s me with the lights on, and here’s me with them off. The difference is easy to appreciate. The best part? These lights aren’t even top-of-the-line when it comes to Neewer’s offerings. This set runs just about $110 and pays for itself with the quality of content we’re able to easily create in and around our office.
But what if you’re just looking to create intimate vlog-style content? Ring lights are perfect for this and – since they’re designed for ease of use – most of them have an easy cell-phone mount built-in. There are a variety of styles and sizes out there, but the 18-20-inch range offers great versatility. If you think this is a good fit for you, you could grab one on B&H for as little as $88.
Spend Check: $88 + $72 = $160 and up.
When it comes to limitations in your smartphone’s capabilities, a major one is the native audio that it captures. While it’s perfect suitable for platforms like Snapchat and TikTok, where there’s less of an expectation of production quality, the use of a simple plug-in microphone set up is incredibly important to create higher-quality content. But how can you help improve your audio quality easily and affordably?
When it comes to manufacturers of audio equipment, RODE is our go-to, so we’re going to suggest their VideoMicro condenser microphone.This microphone doesn’t require additional battery as it takes its power from whatever your filming device is. It arrives with a suspension mount, which helps to minimize any unwelcome noise, as well as a windshield to minimize any disruptive wind noise – which is crucial for outdoor filming. Current price for this set up is around $59 from B&H.
One quick tip: if you’re going to pick one of these up for your smartphone, make sure and grab the Lighting to Headphone Jack Adaptor for iPhone use ($9) or the SC7 TRS to TRRS Patch Cable for Android use ($15) . Once you’ve done that, it’s just ‘plug and play’.
Spend Check: $160 + $68 = $228 and up.
So, here’s your checklist:
- Tripod and Smartphone Mount (for static shots)
- The optional Smartphone Gimbal (for movement)
- Lighting as needed based on your style of content
- Plug-In Microphone w/ iPhone or Android-specific Adaptors
There you have it: some easy and affordable ways to create better quality content. You need to be to be staying in front of your customers right now, and video the ideal means of doing so, so why wait? Just remember, trying to order from Amazon right now may only delay your ability to move forward. B&H is a great resource, with amazing customer service, even with everything going on right now.
Which just about wraps up for today. I hope this helps, and in the meantime… be smart. Be safe, and don’t forget to join us next Thursday, and every Thursday, for more SEO insights right here on “Just the Tip”.