Learn from those who have done it before

Five tips to showcase your startup with video

You only need to look across social media to see the increasing value of video content. It’s a great way to get attention and quickly communicate who you are and what you do. For an entrepreneur, a well-produced video will deliver clear messages about your company’s brand and values to support your growth and marketing strategy. At Future Worlds, video as a key component of what we do and we collaborate with each of the startups and spinouts we support to produce a video to help them grow their business.

With our new incubator space we will now also provide fresh opportunities for spinouts and startups to develop their own video content. With that in mind I’ve pulled together some hints, tips and sources of information to help you have a go for yourself at making your own videos.

1. Plan for success
It should almost go without saying, but planning will make your whole filming experience run more smoothly. The first thing you should be clear on is what you want to achieve with your video. Make sure your message is crystal clear. What do you want to say? Who are you aiming it at? What action or reaction do you want from the viewer?

Seek out videos you like and use them as a reference for the look and feel you are after. Take the time to plan what you want to say, think about your location(s) – they should communicate something about your company and/or the product, organise who will be in the clip and visualise the shots you want to take that will best show off your product. This takes time but it will all pay off in a smoother experience and better video at the end of the day.

It’s a balance though and, particularly if you are getting your startup off the ground, you may not have time for extensive planning. Use your judgement as to when it’s better just to get on and get something filmed. Don’t make your early videos too complicated, but do keep striving to try new things and improve with each video you create.

2. Invest in good sound
The quality of the audio has a massive impact on the effect of the overall finished pitch video. It sounds obvious, but make things easier for yourself by recording somewhere with low background noise and minimal echo. Be aware of wind noise if filming outside, it can ruin an otherwise great sound setup and is very difficult to rectify afterwards. If you are planning to film outside, have an alternative indoor location in mind as backup. If you can, use a Lavalier mic, these are the ones that clip onto your clothing. Their proximity to the speaker means you are more likely to get a good sound. There are plenty of reasonably cheap ones on the market like the Rode SmartLav+ and the Sabrent Lavalier which utilise your smartphone as an audio recording device.

If you can’t or don’t want to use a lapel mic then look at getting a condenser microphone. This clip lays out some other options and good general advice. The handheld microphone we regularly used at CES only cost around £40 and did the job perfectly well and like most handheld mics, it can be attached to a standard mic stand slightly out of shot if you don’t want to be seen holding it.

Whatever you choose to use, do some tests beforehand so you can get the level set correctly and get used to using it. If you can use a sound level monitor, you should be looking for a level of approximately -6db (although this can vary), but in laypersons terms, you want it loud enough to be clear but not so loud it distorts. Background music can also help set the mood and really lift a video. Again if you are looking at levels, comparative to the voiceover should be somewhere between -12db and -20db depending on what feels right. There are plenty of sources of copyright free music and cheap licenced music across the web including the YouTube Audio Library and Purple Planet.

3. Get yourself seen
Most current DSLR cameras and smartphones are capable of shooting HD quality video that is more than good enough for a quick pitch video. In my view, the key to getting the best out looking video is to get a good, well-lit location. If you can get plenty of natural light, then that’s perfect but, failing that, somewhere where you are well lit is essential, particularly your face. This video gives some good pointers for cheap DIY lighting solutions.
There are also some fundamental guidelines that are worth considering in terms of shot composition. Although this video by D4Darious is 20 minutes in length, it provides a really good (and pretty entertaining) overview of how to set up shots to look their best. I would recommend shooting your piece to camera multiple times and consider either shooting from two angles at once or filming different takes from different angles. This will enable you to cut between different angles to mask edits between different takes. You can also use B-Roll or Stock footage to cover joins between different takes or where you need to seamlessly edit out a mistake in a take. D4Darious again lays out neatly the power of B-roll footage and some great tips on getting good content. More generally, cameraman/vlogger Peter McKinnon provides some very quick tips on making good videos in this short clip.

4. Make sure you edit
In Future Worlds we use Adobe Creative Cloud to edit. I’ve always found it user friendly and intuitive but it isn’t cheap – coming in at between £20 and £50 per month depending on the circumstances. There is though, a free trial and there are plenty of free alternatives available. This recent video provides a quick overview of 5 of the top free software editors. I would also add DaVinci Resolve to the list, but only if you have a really powerful machine.

As part of the University, you can access Lynda.com for free and take advantage of its great bank of online learning. This really is great resource for access to tutorials on editing and many other subjects as well. Our colleagues at Iliad have also helpfully pulled together this playlist of useful tutorials for different aspects of video production. From there, you should be ready to go in no time.

5. Feel free to experiment
My final suggestion is that you just get out there and experiment. There is no substitute for getting out there and practicing. There is a balance between getting the content good enough that it reflects well on your startup and delaying too long in getting content out there. Seek out feedback from people you trust, and accept feedback when your content is released – but DO get it out there!

We look forward to seeing what you do.

Get in touch with Alex Dunlopp

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Alex Dunlop

Relationship Manager,
Future Worlds

Alex plays a crucial role in enabling the enterprise and impact of academic research as Future Worlds’ Relationship Manager. He establishes and maintains connections in the ecosystem, helps organise events and is the driving force behind video production for the website. Alex has enjoyed a diverse career which has taken him across government, higher education and charity sectors.

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