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January 9, 2009

MOST Web Videos Stink – Articles are Better

I cannot stand to watch most of the videos shown on YouTube, Google, and Yahoo, just to name a few.

The videos all suffer from common problems:

  • Bad sound
  • Bad lighting
  • No tripod
  • Fuzzy, purpose

Let’s take these in order.

Bad Sound:

The microphone on the camera picks up every sound in the room, echos and all. The sound will be a distant, boomy, hard to understand, and if the recording is at a convention, you can hardly make out the narrative. (I just watched one of those videos…pretty bad.)

This problem is easy to fix, but it may cost some money. If you are going to make quality videos to promote your site, you need a lavalier or mic ($30 on eBay) or shotgun mic $250 -$350. I know, it is not easy to find an inexpensive video camera today that has an external mic jack, but that is what you need. They exist, of course, but you will have to really search carefully. Most video camera manufacturers have stopped putting external mic jacks on most of their cameras for cost reasons. You need to step up to a higher level camera where cost is not the main concern of the manufacturer. Here is an article I wrote about inexpensive equipment.

What can you do? Do a Google search for “external mic jack video” and you will find many answers…use the quotes around the search phrase as shown here.

Bad lighting:

If you are going to make a video by room light, at least balance it out to make it look more realistic. If you go to the hardware store, you can purchase a work light for about $10. Don’t shine it at your subject, bounce it off a wall or corner of a room. It will take up the color of the walls, so try to find a wall that is close to white. Also, do your video taping at night. You don’t want sunlight coming in. You can correct your video for one color temperature, but not more than one.

Many problems are solved with throwing more light on the subject. The picture will be sharper. (Your video camera will be using a smaller aperature.) In addition, with more light, there will be less blur from movement as a result of the camera using a faster shutter speed.

No tripod:

If you are going to make a good video, use a tripod. If you cannot afford one, then, just place the camera on a sturdy chair, ladder, or whatever you have available. Don’t try to hand hold a camera…it just doesn’t work very well.

Fuzzy purpose:

What are you trying to say? Get to the point. Most of the junk you see in today’s amateur videos is superfluous. Here is a good rule of thumb. If you plan to publish your video on one of the video sharing sites, keep it to three minutes or less. If you have a long instructional video, cut it into several parts. YouTube has a limit of ten minutes anyway.

Start with the end in mind first. Grab their attention with the main point of your video. You don’t have much time in a video to keep their attention. Then, go to creating interest with some details. Make sure they can follow your line of thinking. (Think it through first. Storyboard it if you must.) Next, deliver the summary. Tell you what you told them.

What do you think? Are you happy with the videos you watch? Do you have suggestions for improvement? Do you prefer to read articles rather than watch videos?


Rich Day at TrafficBumper.com has many tips to help you make interesting, effective videos. With over twenty years in the photography business, he has down to earth suggestions to help you promote your site properly with video. Visit TrafficBumper.com Tell us what you think

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