Joe’s Tools for Video Marketing
Okay, so I have been bombarded with all kinds of questions about proper tools for video marketing, as this seems to be a hot topic. And it probably should be, as video marketing is taking off like crazy, and I can’t think of a better way for financial professionals to get your voice and your message out to the world.
In fact, video marketing has literally changed my business and has helped me create more leads and more traffic than any other source out there. And now that YouTube is the second largest search engine (so more people go to YouTube to search for information than they do Yahoo or Bing), it is a no-brainer to start doing some video marketing.
Some of the questions that I have received in regards to the best tools for video marketing are:
- What kind of video camera do you recommend?
- What do you use for lighting?
- How important is it to have a microphone and what kind do you use?
- How do you get such a clear green screen background to create those perfect background shots?
- Should I use a teleprompter?
- Is it important to have a tripod?
- What kind of editing software and computer do you use?
Let’s go over each question separately, and I will even present you with the links to the best places to buy each video marketing tool if you are interested.
1. What kind of video camera do you recommend?
To begin, what I currently use as my go-to tools for video marketing will probably be a bit different than what most of you start out with Day 1. That being said, here is my exact progression of video camera upgrades over the past 4 years. You will notice that I highly recommend Canon cameras as well, as I have had nothing but excellent experiences with them.
I started out with a Canon VIXIA HF R400 HD camera. It is priced below $400 and this is the BEST video camcorder you can get on the market that films awesome HD and still has a microphone jack (in my opinion). (here is a pic below).
And don’t try to save a few bucks by moving down to the Canon R300 as you will forfeit the ability to tie in a microphone which is a game-changer in making videos. This camera also lets you record and share your video onto any computer by simply inserting a UBS cord, so it is so easy to extract and share your content.
Here is the best deal that I found on buying this camera (at Amazon where I buy all of my equipment)
Also, here is why…
After about a year, I outgrew this camcorder as I wanted to get a professional camcorder that had the ability to do some fancier things with audio and customized focus adjustments. This one also had super easy external microphone jacks where I could plug in two different professional microphones in mere seconds (wireless lavalier mics that we will discuss later in this blog).
This professional camcorder that I upgraded to is called the Canon XH-A1s HDV with 20x HD Video Zoom Lens and goes for $1,399. Here is a picture so you can see what it looks like. Feel free to click the picture to see more views on Amazon.
The one thing that I love/hate about this camera is the fact that it records on mini-DV tapes instead of a digital memory card. For those of you not familiar with mini DV tapes (I certainly wasn’t when I bought it), many professional videographers like to use actual HD tapes to record as they last for decades and it is an awesome way to backup all of your filming. Think of it like a smaller cassette tape that records everything HD and doesn’t tear or scratch like some of the cassette tapes did. Because let’s be honest, how many of you still have all of your pictures and videos that you have ever taken digitally over the past 10 years saved somewhere safe that you can easily go back and reference anytime?
That’s what I thought…
However, even though that is a really cool feature and this camera is super easy to use (even for a digital dunce), I would highly recommend going all digital and finding a professional camcorder that records 100% on a Digital HD card. But for those of you who love to keep all of your content organized and safe in a hard copy manner, and want a robust professional video camcorder, this camera is pretty ideal.
I have also posted the best mini-DV tapes below as well.
My Present Day Cameras
This is the Canon EOS 70D 20.2 Mega Pixel SLR camera with a 18-135mm lens. This is what you call a DSLR (Digital SLR) camera which is what many of today’s top videographers are using now. As you can tell, it is much smaller than the professional camcorder (as it is basically a professionals photography camera with a bada$$ video option) that enables you to film like a professional.
These types of DSLR cameras have easy access to add in professional microphones and the resolution and manual focus are second to none. It has a 3 inch multi-touch LCD screen so you can watch exactly what is going on (live or when you rewind and play), along with all kinds of cool settings that you can try out once you get going.
If you are really serious about video marketing, then I would skip the entry level model and our “older mini-disk” professional camcorder and buy this one or the one below. You will not be disappointed.
Our new Camcorder (bought May 2014)
Here is the most recent camcorder that we bought (and we ABSOLUTELY LOVE). It has incredible zoom, it is super easy to use, it is Digital (with dual HD card slots), it has wi-fi access so you can be instantly uploading your videos to your computer as you film, and we really love the fact that is has the external dual microphone jacks so we don’t have to do audio separately with the Zoom (like we do with the Canon 70D).
Also, this camcorder is about 1/3 of the size and weight of our previous one so it is incredibly versatile and easy to carry.
If you want an incredible camcorder that is turn-key and can do all of the focus, white balance, etc on automatic or manual, then this is the camcorder for you.
Of course if you go with a Digital camera, make sure to buy a couple 32GB or higher memory cards as you can’t save anything you record without these.
2. What do you use for Lighting?
It took me a while to learn how important things like lighting and audio are to great videos. I look back now at some of my very first videos on our Annuity Think Tank YouTube channel and I just laugh. No wonder they rarely converted any leads…you could hardly see my face with all of the shadows!
So take this to heart, no matter what camera you go with and no matter how many videos you plan on doing, you need to invest in some kind of lighting. But please don’t attempt to do your lighting with household lamps, Home Depot flood lights, or any other bright idea that you might find laying around your house. It will most likely look like crap (I know from experience).
And the great news is that lighting can be done very cheaply. You can even get away with just 2 soft-box lights if you are filming directly in front of the camera with normal backgrounds (inside), and you will need 3 soft-box lights if you plan on doing any green screen videos. Here is what a soft-box light looks like.
I recommend buying all 3 and getting them in the 3,000 watt range to make sure you can brighten up any room to the perfect setting. The great news is that these lights have 4 total bulbs each, and you can easily turn half of them off on any soft-box at any time. These are a no-brainer and they are almost 50% off as I write this!
Just click below to go directly to Amazon to buy.
3. How important is it to have a microphone and what kind do you use?
I can’t stress enough HOW IMPORTANT it is to use some sort of microphone. Even if you go with the cheapest version out there, please use some sort of microphone, as your audio can literally make or break you. A great example is our Google Hangouts that we do. Many times the screen might slow down or even freeze, but as long as the audio is clear, people stay glued to it, and don’t miss a beat. On the other hand, if you have ever been watching or listening to a webinar, GoToMeeting, or conference call and the sound is bad, how irritated do you get? How mad to you get when someone is talking to you via their cell phone and they keep coming in and out where you hear every other 4th word?
I thought so. Moral of the story, don’t skimp on your sound!
What I have found is that the overall best option is to have a Wireless Lavalier microphone. And my favorite company that makes wireless lav mics is Sennheiser by far. Here is the exact microphone system that I use today. Great news is that it is compatible with any video camcorder or camera that has a microphone jack. And it is worth every penny of $630, not to mention, these things last a really long time.
But if you just can’t afford the professional mic system above, here is the original microphone that I started out with almost 4 years ago (that still works great today).
Finally, a must have for any video/audio enthusiast is the ever popular and multi-functional Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder. This baby has up to 4 channels that can record simultaneously using built in or external mics (like the ones that I own above that can hook right up into this). This enables you to independently digital control all sound for pristine recording.
Check it out below.
4. How do you get such a clear green screen background to create those perfect background shots?
Well part of the reason I get such a clear and wrinkle free green screen is due to having the professional lighting that I referenced earlier (because if you don’t have the light hitting the green screen correctly, you will have all kinds of shadows and irregular spots). And the other reason is due to the fact that I have a green screen room. Meaning, I painted an entire wall in my house green to be able to do perfect green screen filming.
And if you go this route, just go to Home Depot and tell them you want the “green screen” paint and they should be able to whip it up with no issues. Note: be prepared that your spouse is not going to be happy with it.
However, most of you will never paint your entire room green, and I can’t blame you. In that case, it will make more sense to buy a real green screen. I would highly advice against buying a small green screen and also never buy the green/blue screen that folds up nicely in a round container. Although it seems cool and they market it very well, the thing is worthless as it doesn’t stand up (so someone has to hold it upright if you want a clear green screen), and it is quite narrow.
I would recommend going no smaller than 10×12 (trust me, you will wish you had one even bigger as you start to get creative with this).
Here is the first green screen that I bought (and still have today)
5. Should I use a teleprompter?
This is going to come down to personal preference. For about a year, I used a teleprompter all of the time. But I started noticing that my videos were lacking my personality and it kind of felt too fake to me. However, some people knock it out of the park with a teleprompter like you never knew they were using one. I will say that they really do save a ton of time and frustration when you are recording longer videos, as it is always tough to remember everything that you want to say in a 10+ minute video when the camera is on you.
Some bad news is that a teleprompter aren’t cheap. The glass that does the proper refraction of light is what costs the most, as the rest of it can be done with an Ipad and a proper stand. I would however, highly advice not trying to build one yourself. They just never seem to work.
Here is the teleprompter that I have and seems to be one the cheapest, yet highly rated out there.
6. Is it important to have a Tripod as one of your must-have tools for video marketing?
Without a proper tripod, your video will be shaky and tough for viewers to want to watch. And don’t think you should ever save a few bucks because you think you can always find something steady to prop it up on. That simply doesn’t work. Spend the money and buy a nice tripod. You can keep these for 10+ years if you take care of it, and tripods will easily latch on to any camera (for photography), camcorder, or Digital SLR, so you can get a ton of use from them.
Here is my personal story with tripods…
I started off cheap and bought a tripod that did very well with my original small Canon camcorder. The tripod was the Ravelli APLT4 61-inch light weight Aluminum piece and it worked quite well. Here is all of the info on it below.
However, as soon as I upgraded to the professional Canon camcorder (that weighs quite a bit more than the smaller camcorder), I realized that I needed a heavy duty “big boy” tripod. And since my wife is big into photography, I figured that she could get some use out of a state of the art tripod. Here is the one that I currently use today (and so do many videographers). It is the Davis and Sanford ProVista with fluid head and up to 18 pounds of camera weight.
7. What kind of editing software and computer do you use?
First of all, I also learned the hard way that the best editing computer is an Apple. I hated to use an Apple for the longest time, but now that I realized a PC is horrible to do editing, photography, and videography compared to an Mac, I have become a fan.
In regards to the editing software, I started of with a very simple, yet very powerful software called Sony Movie Studio for PC. It did everything that I needed at the time, and it was very intuitive for a digital dunce like myself at the time. If you use a PC, then definitely buy this one.
Then I upgraded to Apple’s Final Cut Pro and I still use that today. There exists some older versions like I still use, or you can now just buy it directly from the AppleStore where you can download it right on your Mac. Here is a link to the old version.
However, over time I realized that due to some of the advanced audio and video editing that I wanted to do, I needed to upgrade to a Mac that had some awesome video editing software. I started with Final Cut Pro (made by Apple) that I still use today. In fact, I still use the old version that you can get on Amazon. The newer version of Final Cut Pro you can buy and download directly from the Apple Store.
If you are interested in the old version that I still use today, here is the link.
Summing up the Best Tools for Video Marketing for Financial Professionals
So now that you know exactly what I am using in my own home studio to create all of these videos you see, there should be no excuse for you to not have some awesome videos out on your very own YouTube channel.
The easy part is buying the equipment, the hardest is part is getting off of your butt and doing the work. However, I have found that videography has become a very fulfilling hobby for me, and I can’t imagine my business without it.
“Just Do It”
P.S. – If you received any value from this blog, Please Share it using the social share buttons on the left. Also, I would love to hear what video equipment that you are currently using. Even if it is old and funny. Please post below in the comment section.
P.P.S. – I buy all of my video equipment and tools from Amazon, as I have had nothing but excellent experiences with them. And because I spend so much money with them each year, they have bent over backwards and made everything right in the one or two times something didn’t get delivered perfectly.