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It’s not hard to believe that I am constantly telling people they need more video in their life. from social media videos with a targeted audience to general welcome videos on websites. any video is good video assuming you hit a few key quality points, you’re in luck I’m about to tell you the most important things to get right in video.

This is the first in a multi-part blog series about how to set up a video studio and getting started on your own. We will move on to

2. Picking the Right Sound Equipment

3. What to Look for in Camera Equipment

4. Lighting Setup for a Video Set.

5. Editing Basics



The obvious part of making videos is the camera. but getting a good image is the second most important thing you can do to make sure your videos are well received. (side note check out Every Frame A Painting for some thought provoking inspiration)

Obviously making “good video is totally subjective, the main thing is to have fun,  less is more and here are some quick tips to get you going.


Good sound quality makes all the difference in video. the best image in the world won’t make you listen to terrible audio. while it may seem like a priority to get good video, and it is, the sound will engage the viewer through less than ideal video, but even the best images won’t make the viewer pay attention.

I prefer Lavalier microphones. many people will tell you they are a pain. I feel the same way about Shotgun microphones. both have their benefits. A lav mic will pick up a small circular pattern about 12 inches in any direction of the mic. that makes it important to place the mic on the chest. it is not advisable to try to capture two people talking with one lav. its possible but not the best. a shot gun mic picks up sound in a very specific and directional path. Shotguns cancel sound from the sides and back. they work well for quick close to the camera work. where wires would be cumbersome. they also work with two people. we will Get into external recorders and other sound specifics in a later post. for now, i suggest ordering a lav from amazon.  I use these Sennheiser g3 the replacement name brand lavs are $150 each. I haven’t noticed a ton of difference between the ” off brand”  and name brand. I’m not an affiliate for any of these links.  just some suggestions. one more suggestion you may or may not hide the mic, but you must place the wire under the clothing.


Chances are You are not an expert in the nuances of professional video lighting. That’s ok. There is a time and place for elaborate Film Noir style lighting or sun flares. You’re not JJ Abrams!  When I consult with people about their video productions I have a few key rules I stick to. if we can’t do something well, and we don’t have to do it. then lets not. lets just not make this a costume drama or period piece. we can’t kill it lets leave it out. and the rule works for light as well. bounced light from above the eyes. that is to say, don’t shine lights on someone, point them at the ceiling letting them bounce around and reflect naturally like the sky or ceiling fixtures would. but if you have a window this secret weapon (be sure to get frosted) has saved my ass on shoots for the discovery channel and much more. there are better more expensive ways to get the same look… but why? You’re probably going to need the time practicing your dialog. don’t get bogged down in the details of lighting. just tape this over the window, put the camera between you and the window. if it doesn’t look good get closer to the window.


Flow is a little harder to define.  Teachers have lesson plans, politicians have teleprompters, and everyone else is expected to walk through a speech or presentation totally off the cuff like a coherent person. I started editing video ten years ago and I can tell you that the difference from the best interview or performance and the absolute worst was a difference of only about twenty percent. that is to say that the best person I’ve ever seen in front of a camera was not twice as good as the worst person. they were only marginally better.

After years of being behind the camera and thousands of videos produced. there are two things that seem to define what makes someone “good on camera” the first is practice. the second is patience. I’m guilty of sucking at both. firstly I don’t practice much and expect to be good on camera right out of the gate. then I get frustrated and it comes off on camera. I get more and more flustered. eventually, I walk away from it. and when I come back it’s much better than when I started. you may wonder who does best on camera. Hands down pastors do the best. Imagine that. It’s not to say that they get it right the first time. but they’ve had a lot of time to self-critique their own work. they understand if they’re getting their point across. they don’t try to gloss over their mistakes, they just do it again a little different until they’re pleased with the result. You don’t have to do that. but it makes the editing easier.



Editing is the difference between boredom and engagement. the difference between passion and apathy. editing turns a rambling train wreck into a masterpiece. good editing is invisible. good editing is the glue that binds the project together.

So don’t do a lot of it. you can spend the time getting things right from the beginning. shoot as many takes as you need. and when you do edit cover all of it with b-roll that is a video without audio that illustrates what you’re talking about. I use final cut x. I recommend it. but there’s a moderately steep learning curve. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I’ve also used iMovie on my iPhone to edit quick social media video posts. too much attention to the tool ignores all of the skill used in editing. Too much attention to the skill ignores the benefits of practice. I don’t think too much emphasis can be placed on the value of iteration. remember. if you have no video, almost any video is an improvement over that. even unedited clips without sound can be construed as informational. then when more skill is developed in the shooting and editing process you can always replace those videos with the newer ones. we are always our toughest critic. Check out this excellent visual representation from Ira Glass called the Gap


There Is no fifth rule. There will always be room to grow and try new things. just make something. Get real feedback. Make something better.