What do I need to get started?
- A video camera, a quiet, well-lit location, some basic lighting and (for most shoots) a friend to help operate the camera. We explain all of that in the FAQ below.
Where should I shoot my Shopflick video?
- Location is a critical choice for a number of reasons.
- Shopping experience. You will want to give your potential customers a very personalized shopping experience. If you have a store, use it. If you have a factory, show it. The key is to allow the viewer to interact with you and your products as if they are seeing both in person.
- Theme. The location should reinforce your product's message. Choose a place that coincides with the theme of your merchandise. Peruse Seller videos on Shopflick.com and on our Filmmakers Blog to get ideas about what you think would work best for you. Exemplify the focus of your product through your surroundings.
- Technical. Always consider possible sound and lighting obstacles when choosing a location: a quiet and well-lit place will greatly simplify the process.
How do I "frame" (or compose) my shots?
- Remember that you are shooting video for the web, which is a different user experience than television. Customers will be watching your video through a media player that occupies only a small portion of the computer screen. For this reason, close-ups are much more effective than wide shots in establishing a personal connection with you and your products. It is important to fill the entire frame with your subject, whether it is you in some shots or your products in other shots. However, for a "pro-look", use "The Rule of Thirds" in your interview shot (for the profile video). You do this by either vertically or horizontally dividing the screen into thirds. If you place yourself, or your product, in the right/left third of the frame and fill the remaining two-thirds of the frame with something of interest and relevance to your video the shot will look significantly more dynamic. Take a look at videos on Shopflick.com to see what looks good to you and what does not.
How do I shoot a great Seller profile?
- You should place the camera roughly at the height of your human subject. You don't want to be below them because it usually distorts their figure, and although shooting from above can sometimes work it is an odd angle to interview from. It is always good to give your subject a bit of space above and below their head. The bottom of the frame should end at the middle-chest, and the top should have 1-3 inches of space above the subject's head. Make sure to give them space around the shoulders, and if possible use the "Rule of Thirds" to make the shot more interesting. REMEMBER: Always look directly in the camera. Don't respond to the cameraman or whoever may be reading the questions. You are speaking to your buyer through the camera.
For more information and a list of Interviewing Questions please visit our SfM Requirements & Guidelines, or visit our Filmmakers Blog for Tutorial text and videos.
Who do I look at when I am talking on camera?
- You can either look at the interviewer or directly into the camera, whichever is more comfortable for you. However, if you are looking at the interviewer, he/she must be placed close to, and speaking at the same height as the camera. REMEMBER: Speakers have a natural tendency to look away while they are talking. Try not to do this as it breaks the connection you have with the viewer. For example, resist the natural urge to look at the cameraman and others who are present. Feel free to take breaks and to repeat yourself multiple times.
For more information and a list of Interviewing Questions please visit our SfM Requirements & Guidelines , or visit our Filmmakers Blog for Tutorial text and videos.
How do I shoot great product shots?
- You should come at your product shots from a variety of angles. Zoom in (but don't show the "zooming" in your shot and keep the camera steady!). Get very close to and linger on the product as you are communicating its details: this will give a prospective buyer time to absorb them, which is critical. Show the product off as if a buyer were right there with you. Move it around. Show it in relation to something that gives the viewer a sense of its size. Make sure to show it doing what it does! If it zips, snaps, clicks, slices, lights up, beeps...show us! If it is smooth, shiny, textured, rough.... show us! If it smells good or feels good, smell it and feel it for us! Put it on, have a friend wear it, have them get excited by it.
NOTE: It is EXTREMELY important to make sure your product has enough light. One way to avoid poorly lit products is to light specifically for your close ups. As you move your camera closer, move the lights closer. Since the product will be filling most of your frame, you shouldn't have to worry about shadows.
What is the difference between a Store Profile video and a Product Listing video?
- The Store Profile is a 60-90 second video that is used to create a personal connection between you and viewers. The video should convey your passion and enthusiasm for your products and give an overview of your business and products.
- Product Listings are 45-90 second videos in which the product is the "star" (though you will be talking and selling in the video) that will be viewed on your listing page. These videos should give as much information about the product as possible, while showing it in great detail.
What should I say in my store profile?
- Store profiles are used to create a personal connection between you as a seller, and your customers. Essentially, you should do what you do when you are talking to customers in person!. Convey your passion and enthusiasm for your profession and your products. It's also nice to tell interesting and/or humorous stories that shed some light on your personality. It is hard for many sellers to speak off the top of their head, so we have provided a list of questions in Interviewing Tips and Tricks in SfM Requirements & Guidelines .
What if I don't feel comfortable on camera?
- That's okay, it's quite common and there are several ways to handle this very human issue. Again, watch examples on Shopflick.com to see how sellers like you have handled interviews. You will see a variety of techniques, including:
- You can use voice-overs and "b-roll" (additional footage used to supplement your interview and add interesting shots of the store, available products, general shots of your products, you in action talking to customers, handling your products, etc.). This can greatly reduce the amount of time you need to be speaking directly to camera.
- You can use a friend, model, or store worker who is 18 years or older to be a representative for your store. Note: You must be sure to have them give their consent either on camera or in writing to have their likeness displayed on Shopflick.
- You can create a slideshow of digital still images and make a voice over description of the items and/or store. If you are using a Mac computer you can make slideshow with iPhoto. If you are using a PC computer, Slideroll.com is an excellent, simple, and free program perfectly made for this function.
What should I say in my product listings?
- Product listings are used to provide a viewer with as much information about a product as possible. Talk about where the product is from, how it is made, and what the inspiration behind it was. This is your chance to SELL: explain all of the benefits of the product, why you are enthusiastic about it, what others say, etc.
How long should my videos be?
- The suggested runtime is 60-120 seconds for a Store Profile video, and 45-90 seconds for a Product Listing video. Of course there are exceptions, but the best videos usually fall in this range. When in doubt, make the product videos a bit longer as viewers making a purchase decision will want ample opportunity to see the products close up.
What type of camera do I need?
- There are a number of devices, at a wide variety of price points, that capture digital video, and we suggest using the best available to you. Some digital still cameras and camera phones record digital video, but it's of a much lower quality and therefore will not work as well for Shopflick videos (because they do not show enough detail). If you have an analog camcorder (VHS, VHS-C, Hi8), then you must digitize your footage byway of a digital converter. If this function is not pre-installed in your computer's graphics card, you will have to buy an external converter. These generally run under $100. For more information on these technical specifications please visit our Equipment section of the SfM Requirements & Guidelines.
Should I use a tripod?
- Internet media players magnify unintentional camera movements, so we strongly suggest using a tripod. You can find a new tripod that would work for this project at any camera retailer for under $30. A shaky camera is distracting, especially when a viewer is trying to focus on the intricacies of a product. If you don't have a tripod, try holding the camera with the weight distributed equally over both hands. To reinforce this technique, brace both elbows on your body and/or lean against a wall. If you do not have an assistant, you can always place the camera on a stable surface and frame your shot from there. For more information please visit our Filmmakers Blog.
Why do things keep moving in and out of focus?
- The "Auto Focus" option on most camcorders will focus on the object in the center of the frame. When the camera moves, the focus automatically changes according to what is in the center (which isn't necessarily your subject). We suggest trying the "Manual Focus (MF)." This will allow you to accurately focus on your subject.
Tip: A good trick for using the Manual Focus (using a tripod to insure your camera and subject stay stationary) is to zoom in on the seller/product and take your focus. Then zoom out until you have the frame composed in a way you like. This way you know your focus is set on your subject. Note: Make sure to manually re-focus every time you change the distance between the subject and the camera.
Why does everything look orange/blue?
- Different sources of light are sometimes different colors. If your video looks blue or orange, the "White Balance" probably needs to be adjusted. Most cameras come with automatic settings for either indoors or outdoors, and these are adequate for most situations. Adjusting the white balance manually usually requires you to point the camera at something white (e.g. a piece of paper), fill the entire frame with that white object, and press the "white balance" button.
Do I need to worry about special Lighting?
- Yes, but it's not hard to get there. Lighting is crucial and is often the secret for making good videos. The right amount of light will allow you to capture all of the product's intricate details, while providing the shopper with the ultimate viewing experience. Professional lighting equipment is great, but with a little practice, you can create well-lit videos using inexpensive lights that you may already own. The most important thing to remember is that you need to use some form of additional light, and it's best to have at least 3 light sources. Here are few tips to help light your Shopflick videos:
- Location. Choosing a well-lit location can speed up the time of your shoot, and improve the quality of your image. Don't shoot in dark rooms or in shadows. Try choosing a room with a lot of windows and/or light sources.
- Use what's available. Standard room lamps and windows can be a tremendous help if they're close enough to your subject. Try placing your subject near a window, or relocating a lamp to just a few feet away.
- Take a trip to your local hardware store. Purchasing a few work lights is an inexpensive way to create "pro look" lighting. You want to be sure to go with a model that has a 100+ watt Capacity Fixture. It is also important to have a variety of incandescent bulbs available (60, 100, 150, 200, 250 watts), for various shooting conditions.
- Note: For a complete list of lighting suggestions, see "Equipment" in the SfM Requirements & Guidelines, or visit our Filmmakers Blog.
What lighting equipment do I need?
- True, a professional lighting package is great for any video shoot. However, you don't need pro lighting equipment to make good video if you follow some basic suggestions. The most important thing to remember is that, unless you are in the bright outdoors, you MUST use some form of added light. Try to have at least 3 light sources (a standing lamp, a clip-on work light, and a desk lamp would suffice). For more tips on how to light Shopflick videos with equipment found in most households and hardware stores please visit our Equipment section of the SfM Requirements & Guidelines document. For examples of lighting set-ups visit our Filmmakers Blog.
Can I light outdoors?
- Shooting outdoors can be very challenging, as sunlight can be harsh and uncomplimentary. It is best to avoid the sun at its peak, as it will make for unsightly shadows on your subject. The best way to combat these shadows and any other problems that may arise (an overly exposed background, over exposed sections of your frame, etc.) is to use a "bounce board" (a "know-it-all" term for a light reflector). You can find easy ways to light like a pro in the Equipment section of the SfM Requirements & Guidelines , or go to the Lighting topic in our Filmmakers Blog.
How do I record quality sound?
- If at all possible, wear headphones plugged into the indicated slot on your video camera. They will give you a true representation of the sound you're capturing and will help you address any issues that may arise. Sound is one of the most important aspects of a film production, and is often determined by the location you choose. From a sound point of view, it is best to choose an indoor space, with either carpet or drapes (the goal being to stop sound from bouncing around the room). It is always going to be more difficult to shoot outside because of the wind, worldly sounds, etc. If your indoor options are limited and you have to shoot outside, it is best to place the external microphone within two feet of, and pointed directly at, the subject's mouth. Always place the microphone as close as possible to the speaker (but make sure it is out of the frame you're shooting).
Do I need an "external" microphone (i.e. one that is separate from the one on my video camera)?
- If at all possible, use one! Good audio is half the battle for good video (light is the other half; see FAQ above). Sound can influence your viewer's mood, and perception of the video. Web videos are especially likely to lose sound quality due to the compression they undergo to get online. Although the microphone on your camera may be able to get useable sound, there are a number of simple, inexpensive ways to record good audio. For more information please visit our Equipment section of the SfM Requirements & Guidelines.
What's an external microphone?
- External microphones are microphones that are separate from your camera. These generally connect to your camera through "mini" or XLR inputs. External microphones give you the flexibility to get close to the audio source, resulting in clean and direct sound. If possible, you should always use an external microphone when recording dialogue. For more information please visit our SfM Requirements and Guidelines or our Filmmakers Blog.
How close should my microphone be to my subject?
- The first rule of audio recording is to get as close to the audio source as possible (while keeping the microphone out of the frame). Place the microphone roughly two feet from your subject, pointed at their upper chest, and listen carefully using your headphones to make sure that the audio you are recording is clean, crisp, and properly leveled. The key is to get a clean audio sound (no "popping" sounds when they speak), and make sure the audio level meter on your camera is not going into the "red" zone.
How do I move footage from my digital video camera to my computer?
- We can't give you the full explanation here, as it may be slightly different depending on your camera. However, in general, you must connect your digital video camera to your computer using a USB or FireWire cable. If you're using a DVD camcorder, simply insert the disc into your computer. The instructions that came with your camera will tell you exactly how to do this. If you lost the instructions you can always go to the camera manufacturers website and download the "Users Manual". We have a list of them in the Equipment Section of our SfM Requirements & Guidelines.
How do I capture footage from my analog video camera to my computer?
- If you recorded your Shopflick video with an analog video camera (VHS, VHS-C, Hi8), you must first digitize your footage byway of a digital converter. Digital converters are pre-installed in some graphics cards, and can be recognized by composite inputs that you would normally find on the back of your television. If your computer doesn't have these inputs, you will have to buy an external digital converter. These generally run under $100.
Do I need special software to edit my videos?
- Any basic consumer or "pro" editing software will work. Most of today's computers come equipped with basic video editing programs. Windows MovieMaker and Apple iMovie are two of the most popular and easy to use.
There are even some free programs available to download:
• Wax. http://www.debugmode.com/wax/
• Zwei-Stein. http://www.thugsatbay.com/tab/?q=zweistein
- When you find your inner Spielberg, and are looking for a little more horsepower, there are a number of fine programs available at a reasonable price:
• Adobe Premiere Elements. $149.99
• Pinnacle Studio. $99.99
• Ulead Studio. $99.99
*If you have any further questions please consult: Guidelines for Editing/Delivering Completed Videos in the SfM Requirements and Guidelines or visit our Filmmakers Blog.
Ok, I have some editing software, now… how do I edit my video?
- Most video editing programs follow the same basic system: This is just an overview to get you oriented; be sure to review the specific instructions for each editing program, and if you want to learn more, download our SfM Requirements and Guidelines pdf and see the section on Editing and Delivering Completed Videos.
- Select your shots. Once the footage is on your computer, select the shots that you want, and drop them into the timeline. Shot selection is usually done by selecting "in" and "out" points on your raw footage. This tells the computer where the shot should begin and end.
- *Don't be afraid to CUT your video down. The best videos are short and to the point. Example: Think of your videos from the Buyers point of view. They may not care that you love to watch movies, but they do want to know what inspired you to make products, how you learned your craft, what makes your products unique, etc. In other words, use your time to quickly tell us what makes you and your products special, different, useful. Edit your footage so that it is informative, but not redundant or uninteresting.
- Arrange a timeline. Once your shots are selected, lay them out in the best possible order. It's usually best to arrange the video so that it has a beginning, middle, and end.
- Add music/titles/transitions/filters. This is the final step in the editing process and can be the most tricky. When chosen correctly, music, titles, and transitions can improve the viewer's mood and acceptance of your video. BEWARE, less may be more, as these elements can also have the opposite affect on your creation (e.g. cliche fades, wipes, and transitions), and come off as beneath the craft and professionalism that you possess. For reference material view some of our Shopflick videos already online or visit our Filmmakers Blog.
- After editing, you can export your video to one of our accepted formats and upload it to your Shopflick Store and Listing Pages. Remember to keep the videos short, concise, and energetic. Quick cuts, smart editing, and clever transitions can make a huge difference.
Should I add music to my Shopflick videos?
- When used effectively, even a small bit of music can have a strong impact on the mood and tone of your videos. However, music that is overused, intrusive or inconsistent with your brand can have a strong negative impact on your videos. Music should compliment your on-screen images, and contribute to the overall theme. Remember to use music carefully. A Shopflick Music Library will be available within a few months of launch. Using this Shopflick site, you will be able to download from a selection of music to your computer and put it directly into your videos. It is a free and easy way to get legal, free music for your videos.
Am I required to use any graphics or titles?
- Shopflick does not require the use of graphics or titles in your videos, but we do encourage creativity. If you decide to use graphics and titles; use them sparingly. Too many distractions can take away from your overall message. Instead of trying to add production value to your videos through your graphics and titles, use them as tools to move the video along or give the buyer added information. Look for examples from videos on Shopflick.com of what you think is effective and what seems not to work. For more information and sample videos please visit our Filmmakers Blog.
NOTE: If you have any other questions please visit our SfM Requirements and Guidelines.