20 Tips to Make Your Videos Look Professional

film camera in man's hands

One of the best ways to catch your audience’s attention is with a quality video. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend tons of money to create professional-looking content. All you need to have is constant practice and enough determination to make it work.

So, if you ever wondered how popular YouTubers and filmmakers do their craft, then you’re in for a treat. Here are a few tips that can help you create polished videos that your audience will undoubtedly enjoy.

Primary Tips For Beginner Videographers

1: Get your equipment ready

You won’t get anything done without any piece of equipment. So, you need to get your gear ready a day or two before the shoot. Fortunately for starters, most smartphones these days already come with a multitude of features that can help you record amazing videos.

If you’re planning to use your phone, it’s best to use the back camera to get better quality footage. Remember to shoot in landscape mode so you can avoid the enormous horizontal lines on both sides. Turning on the overlay grid can help, too. It’ll serve as a guide to ensure that you’re getting the shots right.

Meanwhile, if you want to have a steady shot, a gimbal stabilizer should do the trick. It’ll help you stabilize your gadgets for steadier shots.

2: Start planning your shoot

Whether you’re planning to shoot a commercial or a music video, planning your shoot is always a must. It will help if you consider creating a storyboard that can illustrate each of the scenes in the video in sequence. Having a visual representation of what your project should look like will help you plan your shoot better. Even more, it’ll guide you through the editing process, too.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to cover an event, you may want to prepare yourself beforehand. For example, if you’re going to a corporate event, you need to have a good idea about taking pictures of the guests and the venue.

3: Prepare your lighting

When shooting your videos, it’s crucial to get your lighting right. Doing so will make it look professional and polished at the same time. You need to determine the type of light source that you need for the shoot to achieve your desired effect.

If you’re planning to do your shoot indoors, it’s best to invest in a few work lights to illuminate the area. But if you have a limited budget, then building a lighting rig can also work. You can try using the lights that you have at home and place it in strategic areas to make it work.

Meanwhile, if you’re shooting outdoors, always remember to do it on a bright day. Shadows will be less harsh if you do it in the early hours of the morning.

4: Get rid of all the background clutter

There’s nothing that could make your video look more amateurish than a messy background. That’s why you need to be deliberate about the background if you’re planning to use it for your content.

One tip that you can follow is to keep things simple. If the scene demands something grander, then try to remove as much clutter as you can. Most people use solid-colored backgrounds while placing their subjects a few feet away to avoid casting their shadows when shooting the video.

5: Familiarize yourself with a video editing software

Besides the recording tools, lighting, and the venue for the shoot, another crucial factor that you need to remember is the video editing software you’ll use. Although shooting videos is vital when making a film, post-production is equally essential. During this time, all the video clips will soon take their shape and start to look more professional.

So that you can ensure the quality of your end-product, choosing the right software application is essential. There are several applications out there that are perfect for hobbyists. But if you’re aiming for something more polished, then downloading software applications like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro are excellent options.

6: Learn how to play with composition

Remember that poor framing and composition can be detrimental to a video project, no matter how expensive or high-end camera you have. So, playing with the composition settings is one way to familiarize yourself with your preferred editing software.

There’s more to shooting videos than aiming your camera at your subject. You need to understand the visual elements to help you tell the story. Learning the composition rules and the camera’s framing can make every scene look aesthetically pleasing, too.

7: Practice seamless jump cuts

Jump cuts are when your clips change to a different shot. It’s essential to learn how to do it seamlessly, or the output will either look amateurish or jumpy.

If you want to make it appear more polished, one tip you can try to do is blend the audio so that every clip overlaps the other one. Doing so will prevent any disruptive sound changes from getting recorded in the final video. One way to do it is by adding a background track as you transition from each clip. The music will act as a coverup to make the transition smoother.

Another way to make the jump cuts look more professional is by varying your transitions. However, you need to be smart about it so that you can evoke the right mood. For instance, using a fade-out to black shift fits a set of clips that show the passage of time. You can also try to look at some of your favorite films to see how they do it and then apply it when you start editing your videos.

8: Observe where you place your camera

In most cases, beginners often disregard their lens’ focal length and the camera’s ability to get a clear picture from a certain distance. So, it would help if you were mindful of where you place your camera to get a decent shot of your subject.

If you’re doing close-up shots, never put the camera close to the subject as this can distort the subject’s facial features. It can also pose a few challenges, especially when you crop out the edges of each scene.  If you want to get better shots, try to place your camera a few feet away and carefully zoom in using your camera lens.

However, you need to be careful with your manual focus. Although this feature can be handy, it can ruin your recording when it automatically goes in and out of focus. One way to effectively use your autofocus feature is by doing a focus lock on your smartphone or switch it to manual focus when using a standalone camera.

9: Discover the Rule of Thirds

One of the most basic tricks when it comes to film composition is the Rule of Thirds. It’s a 3-by-3 grid laid on your screen when you’re doing your shoots. It acts as a guide to know where to place your subject, depending on what you want to achieve.

Photographers consider the points where the lines meet to be strong areas of focus. So, it would help if you placed the essential subjects of the video there. You don’t always have to follow the rules of thirds in every scene. But while you’re still trying to familiarize yourself with making videos, it’s always a good idea to stick to it for now.

10: Use only high-quality background music

Music plays a crucial role in any content, especially when it comes to videos. Professional filmmakers and producers even spend thousands of dollars to get the perfect tracks for their videos.

SoundHills provides its clients with great royalty-free music that can undoubtedly inspire you to create quality videos easily. Each music track in our library has a license that lets you use the music track no matter how you want it unlimitedly.

11: Take steady camera shots

Keeping your hands steady is probably one of the most challenging things that you need to do when shooting a film. Failure to do so can make your videos look wobbly and unsteady, which can significantly disappoint your viewers when they see it. So, if you want to keep your minimize camera shake, you need to do the following:

Try tucking your elbows in. Then, press them into your chest to stabilize your shots.

Gently breathe out once you start filming so that your breath won’t cause your hands to shake.

You can also use your knee as a tripod by crouching a bit. Then, lean your elbow on the opposite side for a steadier camera grip.

But if you feel that it’s a bit more complicated for your liking, then an easy way to stabilize your shot is by using a tripod. It allows you to shoot your scenes from higher angles without worrying about wobbly shots.

12: Shoot your scenes in landscape mode

One tip that everyone should first learn when doing videos is how to hold the camera. If you’re using your mobile phone, shooting in landscape mode will make your videos look professional. Although vertical videos look great when viewed on a mobile phone, it’ll look ill-fitted when you watch it on other devices like a TV or laptop.

Another reason why you need to shoot your videos in a vertical position is that you can fit more scenes into the frame. It means that there’s less need to pan left and right when shooting the video. Thus, making your finished product look more polished.

13: Understand your audience

Often, the most effective videos were made to cater to a specific audience and with a purpose in mind. So, try to determine your purpose in making the video and know more about the viewers who would probably be interested. Is your video supposed to be dramatic? If so, focus on delivering the emotions that you want to convey instead of focusing heavily on focusing on sharing information.

Meanwhile, if you want your video to be more informative, you should focus on the topic and share as many facts about it. Remember that your viewers watch your content because they want to learn something new. So, always try to deliver their expectations so they won’t get disappointed.

14: Too much camera movement is a big no

Although it may seem exciting to follow your character’s movement in every scene, it can be distracting in almost every clip. Camera movement suits certain situations to give it a more dramatic feel. It works best in tracking and panning shots where the character is on the move. But if you’re filming a stationary subject, then try your best to keep your camera still.

Don’t move around if the scene doesn’t need it. It’ll only cause your viewers to get dizzy and can even create motion blurs. Thus, making your videos look more amateurish.

15: Use a few cinematic techniques

Once you’ve learned how to hold your camera in various ways, you can incorporate the techniques that you learned and apply them to your videos. Doing so will help enhance your final output while keeping your audience interested.

You should determine the cinematic techniques that you’ll use based on your creativity and how you want to present each scene. However, it’s always best to choose only a few basic ones that will fit your story. Overdoing it would cause your audience to get overwhelmed with all the visuals, which can distract them from the actual story.

Another technique that you might want to consider is timing your shots. Ensure that each video clip lasts longer than 5 seconds but not longer than 10 seconds to hold your audiences’ attention. Also, keep your shots steady the entire time so that you won’t lose their focus.

16: Think like an editor

When filming any scene, you want to capture every angle of your subject, including a few safety shots that you might want to add for later. Shooting each scene as if you’re the editor when filming serves as a guide that can help you make better decisions when capturing video clips. Having several shots from various angles will save you time and money that you might otherwise spend on refilming your project.

Also, use video editing software that you can easily understand before moving on to more complex software applications. Once you learn the basics of video editing, you’ll find it easier to transition to a different program later.

17: Make sure to get evenly exposed scenes

Another common issue that beginners often commit is clips that don’t look the same in terms of exposure. It usually happens when both cameras that are shooting the same scene don’t have similar exposure settings. One way to prevent it from happening is by using dedicated cine lenses that have t-stops. It’ll help you get more consistent aperture values, which can significantly help you achieve evenly exposed scenes.

For starters, you can try shooting in controlled settings where you have the same kind of light, no matter the time of the day and the camera that you use. Although it may take longer to shoot the videos, you won’t have any problem correcting the exposure when editing.

18: Set your camera’s white balance

Another challenge that videographers often face is the white balance. If you’re using more than one camera to shoot the same scene, you need to ensure that both cameras have the same color temperature.

Keep in mind that various camera models can have different default color temperatures. To ensure that you’re consistent throughout the scenes, you need to set the white balance on all the camera that you’ll use before recording. It’ll help you with the editing process and reduce the time that you spend post-production.

19: Create an opening and ending credits

Having an opening and ending credits can help make your videos look professional. Even more, it can help with creating your brand, too. Make sure that you spend some time creating your opening and ending credits to make sure that it reflects your brand. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Use an animated opening sequence or even a montage of your highlights to create the credits as a videographer.

20: Advertise your videos

Now that you’ve learned all the basics when creating a professional-looking video, it’s time to get people to watch your content. If you want to present yourself as a professional videographer, you need to promote your videos to gain more subscribers.

Remember that you won’t get a lot of views right away. Even the most famous filmmakers and content creators started somewhere, too. Although some channels are more appealing than others, that doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your dreams. But as you create more videos, your following will grow over time.

One easy way to promote your videos is by interacting with your audience. Respond to as many comments as you can and try to answer their questions.

You should also upload your videos that your target audience often uses. Promoting your videos on platforms that aren’t popular with your target market would only be a waste of time and energy.

Another way to promote your videos is by learning the basics of video SEO. Understand how to use keywords effectively. It’ll also help if you know more about writing catchy descriptions, too.

Light, camera, action!

Remember that creating professional-looking content can significantly help you build your brand. So, while making polished videos can take a lot of your time and effort, you’ll soon appreciate everything once you see your viewership grow.