Top five things that separate amateur from professional video

By Chris Karel published February 28, 2017

Top five things that separate amateur from professional video

If you are a marketing manager, training professional or business owner and you need to make a video, then this blog post is for you.

Gear, script, audio, lighting, and distribution are the top five things that determine the level of professionalism in a video product. Sometimes a homemade cell phone video can get the job done and look “authentic”, but it can reflect poorly on your brand. To help you make a great impression with your video effort, here are five things to keep in mind.

Using a high-quality camera is a hallmark of professionalism. I’d also add that the person behind the camera is just as important as the camera. In other words, if the camera operator is good at composition, motion tracking, and exposure, then the professional quality gear will deliver a high-quality image.

A script is the executable plan used to make a video. Thoroughly thinking through how you are going to tell your story is critical. Shooting hours and hours of video with the expectation to figure it out later when editing is a painful and expensive strategy. Developing your script in a three-column table works really well. Column one contains the scene number for easy reference. Column two contains detailed descriptions of the visuals along with direction for the production crew. Column three features the lines for the narrator or actor along with any directorial comments.

Too often, good audio is an afterthought and bad audio can damage the professional impression you are trying to make. Bad audio sounds like it’s captured in a barrel, or from too far away, or worse, it gets louder and softer for no apparent reason. Professional audio, is balanced and easy to listen to. If you don’t notice the audio, then it probably had professional techniques applied to it. Audio is like editing. Good editing is unnoticeable to most people. It looks and sounds normal.

Light affects everything in an image, moving or still. Professionals use three-point lighting to highlight a subject and separate it from the background. They also use different color grades to generate a warm, inviting look, or a cooler more clinical appearance. By paying close attention to shadows and highlights, the professional video will give texture to a subject that makes it appealing to look at for long periods of time.

Simply, this is how you get your final product to your audience. 95% of the time this means delivering your content online through a website. The other 5% is reserved for live showings at events, or one-time broadcasts on television, but even these tend to find their way to the web. What makes the video professional is how it looks in its final landing place. Is it embedded on your website? Are you hosting it on YouTube? Is your primary distribution a home TV screen, personal computer, or mobile device? Mobile carries a different set of needs. Will it live on your servers for only your people to view as a part of a training or internal communication initiative? Remember this, professional video is created with that audience and delivery method in mind before the cameras come out of their cases.

Thank you for reading. We love feedback at Cinecraft Productions; it helps us grow. Have a comment? Email me: If you liked what you read, please subscribe.

Blog, eLearning, Video Production, , ,