If you’ve been keeping an eye on our social channels recently, you’ll likely have noticed that we’re not confined to our amazing office and are regularly out on client video shoots. From intimate interviews to massive livestreams, we’ve seen our fair share of camera work.
These days, however, even the most basic smartphone packs the potential for anyone to begin creating legitimately fantastic video work of their own, right down to editing and rendering applications. And, more often than not, these are used for sharing experiences on social platforms, not unlike what we do at Hydrogen. What separates us, however, is that we have a lot more elements at play before we ever leave our desks to make sure that our recordings, and our end products, have that extra finesse that make them especially suited for social.
Chris and Ross, Hydrogen’s Design Team, have shared some of their key factors to keep in mind when putting together a social video project of your own...
We’ll hit you with the big, and likely most obvious, one up front: know your platforms. No two are identical, for many reasons that we’ll soon go in to. Knowing ahead of time where your end piece is going to be uploaded gives you ample time to prepare for the shoot, and the post process, and as a result save a heap of headaches.
For example, consider in advance whether you’ll need subtitles: we’ve looked before at the importance of audio on social media, with 96% of YouTube videos watched with sound on, compared to only 15% of Facebook videos. Knowing this in advance will help more with composition (which we’ll discuss later).
One key difference is how long videos can play on different platforms. Twitter, for instance has a strict 2:20 time allowance, whereas Facebook videos can last for up to a maximum of 45 minutes. And while Instagram TV goes all the way up to an hour, you’ll only ever get to see a minute of that in a grid post.
Add to this the fact that people will, on average, drop off of your video after 10 seconds, and you can see why editing for social is a whole different ballgame. The best chances of a successful social video rely on an attention-grabbing opening, and not being so long as to bore your audience. As a result, there’s little point in shooting hours of footage for only a few minutes of a final cut.
It’s always worth keeping in mind the target market and demographics that your video is targeting. Throwing up a super flashy, heavily edited and fast paced video as an ad for a banking client is sure to go down like a lead balloon, just as a slower and more informative video will for a new energy drink.
Putting yourself into the shoes of the people you’re looking to appeal to, and a lot of your presentation and editing style should follow as a result.
As with length, ratios differ depending on the platform you’re working with, and this is mainly down to the UI of the applications themselves. On Facebook we’ll tend to go for a 4:5 ratio (a follow up from our original standard of 1:1 on this platform) as this gives us the most real estate on the feed. On Instagram we can do the same, but will tend to stick to a 1:1 format to make sure nothing is cut off when viewed on the profile grid. Conversely, a platform like Twitter works with its cards design, and as a result flourishes with 2:1 ratio instead.
If you know the kind of ratio you’ll be working towards, you’ll be able to frame your shots a lot easier, which nicely rounds us off with…
This one’s crucial, as we so often add in cutaways and additional motion graphics on top of our edits.
As mentioned, platform display ratio plays a large role in this, as all footage from our DSLRs will automatically capture at 16:9. This means that anything after a certain point on our screen will be chopped off entirely if we work with anything other than this – which is frequently.
Composing and framing your shot with not only this in mind, but any additional graphical overlays like borders/frames, sidebars, even something as simple as subtitles, as these can all cause a nightmare in the editing process if the footage is shot poorly.
We’ll tend to mock up a scamp of our final design before we even begin shooting, as this not only helps us on the day of the shoot itself, but also works as a useful aid for anyone that we’re filming, too. If your footage is shot with this end product in mind, it makes for a much smoother and less frustrating editing process.
Now it should be noted that these 5 tips we’ve offered today are not the only things to consider when creating a social video, as there are a great many to take in to account with the shoot and post-production processes themselves. When it comes to putting together a social-ready video piece, however, these are the considerations that turn a good video into a great one.