How to Create a YouTube Product Review Video That Stands Out
Jennifer Cho posted this article
On a platform that is being inundated with content, making high quality YouTube videos makes it easier to stand out so that people are drawn into your unique content. While many factors play into a YouTube video’s success, here are a few suggestions to maximize your video quality and make your product reviews even better.
Let’s start out with equipment first. It might be tempting to try and splurge on your camera equipment or you might feel that you can’t make good videos until you have the necessary equipment but it’s possible to film great videos with just your phone.
And, beginning with the iPhone 6, you can film in 1080p, the minimum quality video you should be aiming for to optimize viewing experience and to make your videos seem higher quality. Here is an amazing example of a video filmed with only an iPhone 6: great YouTube videos can be made with things you already have.
But if you are looking to splash out for a DSLR there are many options going up to thousands of dollars. For an entry-level DSLR I would recommend the Nikon D3300, an easy to use camera with enough features to grow along with you and films better quality videos than comparable cameras. It retails for around $350 to $450 for the body and a 18-55mm lens, a good set-up to start with. You can check out Dealspotr for deals on Nikon but also make sure you check other retailers that might carry Nikon equipment like Best Buy or Amazon.
More important than the equipment is how you film yourself with it. For a sit-down type product review video make sure your framing is correct: Don't cut off the top of your head and make sure there is enough headroom; try not to have the frame cut you off at joints (For example, don't have the frame end right at your shoulders or elbows but rather somewhere on your upper arm).
A busy or messy background means people won't be listening to what you're saying. If your background is too cluttered or you want to try different backgrounds, maybe make or buy a backdrop so you can feature your product more prominently.
Sound & Lighting
Another easy way to improve your YouTube videos is to invest in sound equipment. Either a lavalier microphone or a shotgun microphone will vastly improve your sound quality -- especially if you’re filming in a room with an echo or ambient noise.
(Shotgun microphone on camera & lavalier microphone)
Make sure to plug it directly into your camera rather than recording it separately to avoid spending time syncing sound in editing. Microphones can run you a couple hundred but I’ve personally used a $20 lavalier microphone with great success. But even if you don’t add any sound equipment, some things to keep in mind is to try and film without much ambient noise (i.e. turn off fans and A/Cs when possible).
One thing that I don’t think is optional and can really make or break your video is lighting. If you’re doing a sit-down type of video, an easy way to think of lighting is to use a key light and a fill light: this essentially means you want two sources of lighting from two different angles. Basically you want to create even lighting that doesn’t look too flat. Intensity of lighting and distance of your lights is also important. Less bright and further away lights will create a more diffuse effect, meaning the shadows will be softer while brighter and closer lights may create harder shadows. There are light kits on Amazon for around $50, an investment worth considering. In addition to this, consider either buying or making a bounce board to help bounce and diffuse light (there are many tutorials online for DIY lighting bounce boards). But even without putting extra money into lighting, you can still film videos using natural light, a really nice look in itself.
White Balance & Focus
Which brings us to white balance: There are usually automatic settings on most cameras that work fine and white balance might not be your biggest concern if you are just starting to make videos but one thing to remember is to white balance after you light your setup. Different types of lights have different temperatures and you need to adjust for that. And as the name would suggest, use the white balance function on your camera while the camera is looking at a white paper or background. Not only does this improve the look of your video, but it allows you to most accurately show whatever product you might be talking about.
(Left-to-right: Automatic, tungsten light & custom white balance settings)
In terms of focus, it may be tempting to just rely on autofocus and let the camera do the work but if you can, it is helpful to manually focus your camera, especially if you are doing a video where you are sitting and not moving around. It’s more work but not only will it look better, it means you won’t have to worry about the camera focusing on the wrong thing or shifting focus which can be very distracting for the viewer. In addition, most auto-focus lenses are quite loud and you want to reduce any possible distractions in your videos. Manually setting the exposure (or aperture) will also be beneficial since it will prevent the video from going lighter and darker based on what is being filmed.
Filming & Editing
Now that we’ve covered tips for before you start filming your product review video, here are some for during filming. Most important is to look at the camera: don’t let yourself be distracted by a viewfinder or your script. This requires some planning but memorize all of your main points so that you can talk without looking at notes. That isn’t to say you need to memorize an entire script, just enough so that you can talk naturally to your audience and include all the relevant information while maintaining eye contact with your camera/viewers.
And since you are talking about a product, filming close-up shots where the viewer can get a better look at the product will make for a better video.
There are also some things to keep in mind when you’re editing and posting your video. In the case of important information, like a code or a particular time/place, put text on the screen to reinforce what you’re saying. Music and sound effects can also be a helpful tool in video editing but make sure that they aren’t overwhelming and don’t end up being more distracting than helpful.
Posting Your Video
When putting videos up on YouTube utilize the features native to the platform. Add captions to your videos if possible: it makes your video more accessible to more people. Always fill out the description box! Include information from the video and links to your other social media; if people like you and your content they will want to seek you out on other platforms.
Make a thumbnail! An eye-catching thumbnail can make people click on your video who might’ve never watched your videos otherwise. Make your thumbnail a nice picture with text or additional images that might appeal to a viewer while telling you something about the video. Here are some different examples of thumbnails that might catch someone’s eye better than a still from just the video:
A newer feature that you should always use when uploading a YouTube video are the info cards. While your video plays, a little line of text will appear the the top right corner of the video along with a small icon. This lets you point your viewer to another one of your videos or to external links (like to your blog) though YouTube has recently begun imposing restrictions on external links. But if you're reviewing a product, it would be a nice touch to have a link to the product you're talking about come up.
Though this might seem like a lot, the hardest part of making a video is just doing it. Put yourself out there and experiment. By no means is this a complete guide to making videos, it’s just some easy fixes that can help you iron out some little bumps and make your videos look a little more polished.
A quick review:
- Film with what you have!
- Better equipment doesn’t always mean a better video
- Your set-up
- Sound quality
- Even and bright lighting
- Focus & white balance
- Look at the camera & know your main points
- Utilize features on YouTube
Jennifer Cho (@jenniferc) posted this article