How To Get Started With Video

Making videos of any kind – whether Camtasia training screencasts, video for You Tube, flash videos for your own web site or blog, or How to DVDs for sale on Amazon – can be dauntingly difficult if you don’t know where to begin.

But don’t despair.

Although video production is full of unfamiliar jargon and new (to you) software and equipment, learning the fundamentals of video is surprisingly easy once you dive in.

Here’s all you need to get started:

A clear vision of your project.

Notice, you don’t start off buying a camcorder or editing software or a new computer. You start of with a pencil and paper and you write down an outline of your project.

This will be no different than planning any other project. You’ll want the answer to these questions:

  • Who is your customer?
  • How will the product be delivered?
  • How can you simplify your project?
  • What need are you filling?

When you can answer those questions, you’ll know exactly what sort of hardware and software the project requires.

For instance, if you are planning to make a video demonstrating how to use the GoogleBase Connector with Bonanzle, you know a few things about your audience:

  • They like to buy and sell products on the internet
  • They need precise, easy to follow directions
  • They will watch the video online
  • They are unlikely to pay for this particular video

Knowing this – especially the last point – leads to the following decisions:

  • For online video, you want to keep run time to somewhere around 5 minutes.
  • For software demonstrations, you’ll want to use Camtasia or some other screencasting software
  • You can edit and produce the clip in Camtasia, so you won’t need other editing software
  • You can upload the finished video to You Tube, your own web site or blog
  • You can record, edit, produce, and distribute the entire project for free

So, from a huge world of choices, you’ve narrowed down your options to a simple 5 minute demonstration of a single task that you know a lot of people have questions about. You’ve kept the project focused, so that it can be accomplished in a day (which means you are much more likely to finish it, and not just talk about doing it). You’ve removed expensive camera and lighting equipment from the equation, lowering your costs. And you’ve (maybe) added screencasting to your skills.

Notice I said you can complete the project for free, but I also suggested using Camtasia. Since Camtasia is a pretty expensive program, isn’t this a contradiction?

Not exactly.

If you don’t already own Camtasia, you can download a free, fully functional, 30 day trial copy from TechSmith. You’ll be able to produce your first video for free. After the video has been online for a few weeks, you’ll be better able to judge whether this is an area worth pursuing for your business. Will Camtasia screencasts bring in enough new business to justify buying the software? If you are still undecided on the pruchase, will one of the less expensive (or even free) screen recorders do a good enough job for the occaisional, simple screencasts you plan to make?

After completing just one short project, you’ll have new data that will help move your business forward. The trick – the single, most important piece of the whole puzzle – is just to start.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at live action video and the equipment it requires.