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DIY Video Production - How To Shoot Your Own Online Video

Shooting a cheap and easy online video...

First of all - we should point out that you're not going to get the high quality video results that you would get with a professional video production team filming you. If you're looking for a video to go on the front page of your website then please seek professional assistance!

If, however, you need regular up to date video content for your YouTube page or interactive blog, then a trip down to the video production studio may not be feasible.

We got together with James Johnson of Picture Book Films to provide a DIY guide to online video production.

The Camera

Get a cheap compact HD camera (you can get some great deals now for under £200) and if you're setting the video camera to film yourself then make sure it has a flip screen which you can view from the front.

Most modern cameras have good autofocus which makes life easier, but some autofocus's will continually adjust and 'search'. So that one minute you are in focus, then the wall behind, then you again (very frustrating). If possible - get your hands on the camera and try before you.


A tripod is essential for your online video. You can buy a basic static tripod online for less than £20 which you can use to frame your shot.


If you can film in a quiet environment then the microphone on an entry level HD camera will suffice. A lot of bloggers just use these nowadays.

If, however, your environment is prone to noise then a lapel microphone is a necessary investment.

Lapel microphones attach to your lapel (obviously!) and can be purchased for around £20.


To keep it simple we'd recommend one main light placed in front of you and next to the camera. You'll want to be well lit but not so bright that you're glowing...

Avoid sitting in front of any windows  - this is called backlighting and means that you will become a silhouette and it'll be hard to make your face out.


Probably best not to go into progressive vs interlaced pictures and what it all means (mainly because it's boooring), but suffice to say that if your videos are going on the web you will want to shoot progressive. This is what the "p" 720p and 1080p stands for. All the main sites like youtube, facebook, vimeo etc. prefer progressive  and almost all cheap handycams can shoot it.


When it comes to the actual video filming process you want to sit around 1.5 - 2.0 meters away from the camera looking directly at it. The camera wants to be at head height and not looking up at you.

There's nothing worse than looking up someone's nose when watching a video and the angle won't be very flattering. Ideally you'll have a plain white wall that you can sit in front. If not then keep the background as plain as possible. Make sure you sit away from it though - at least half a meter in front.

Framing the shot

For your first couple of attempts we'd recommend putting yourself in the centre of the shot. Leave a little bit of room above your head - say half the length of your face again above it. Don't leave acres of space up there and don't chop yourself off at the forehead. Painful.


If you use a Mac then iMovie should do the basics. If you're on a PC then Movie Maker should be OK. We'll go into editing in more detail in a follow up post. The golden rule though is keep it short. If your audience are still watching after 3 minutes then you're doing really well.

Call to Action

If you're talking about a product, service or your company include a call to action at the end. Also some contact details and how they can reach you.

We will cover editing your video in a post over the next week or two.