Have you wanted to create video content for your manufacturing business, but didn’t know where to start? The world of video production is vast, and many of the professional solutions can be expensive. If you’re looking to take the reins and produce your own content, here’s a quick guide to what you’ll need to get started.
Choosing the right location is one of the biggest factors in creating quality content. It can make or break your video. Most times, you won’t have control of any of the elements in the environment you’re in during the workday, and sound will be your biggest challenge.
If you want to do a simple, informative video that doesn’t show a working CNC or other machinery, but want to keep the industrial look of the shop, film in a location that doesn’t get much traffic from workers. The best environment for either video would be a product showroom, especially if it contains functioning CNC machines. Product showrooms make video look incredibly clean and professional while also retaining the desired “shop” feel.
In terms of technical specifications, in some ways, sound is more important than video.
Viewers will think less of your video and be less likely to follow your content if it has terrible audio, even if the video quality is top notch. There are a variety of microphones available to record audio in a shop, depending on the type of video you’re creating.
Please note that these options do not magically make your voice sound crystal clear in a noisy shop, but simply improve it. When possible, start by getting the shop and surrounding areas as quiet as possible without interrupting the day’s work.
Lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel mic.
You often see these peeking out from behind a shirt collar in an interview. They’re ideal for speakers that move around frequently and are the best for hands-free audio recording since they sit close to the speaker’s mouth. You can purchase them in sets that include several microphone packs and a receiver that leads to a recorder. A budget version of this is a simple lapel microphone, often marketed online for cell phone use. These can be plugged into small audio recorders, or even into a cell phone to capture and record the audio right in your pocket.
Pros: Hands-free, close to the speaker, compact, budget-friendly
Cons: Have to run cables through clothing, visible during recording
Shotgun Microphones are another popular, hands-free option.
They can be used during interviews where the subject isn’t moving. They’re attached to a boom pole, either pointing the microphone at your subject from above or below them, just out of frame, and they feed directly into your camera or audio recorder. In other situations, they are attached to the top of a camera for a quick, compact setup; however, you can pick up a lot of noise if you don’t keep in mind the distance from the camera when you’re filming.
Pros: Professional level sound quality, not visible during filming
Cons: Expensive, can pick up nearby noises
Also consider compact microphones that attach to your camera for on-the-go filming.
One of the unsung heroes of a high-quality video is extra lighting. If your shop is dark, you’ll need lighting. If your shop is light, you still need lighting. What makes a presentation stand out is the separation of the subject from the background. Additional lighting on the subject will create that professional look and remove the feeling of a drab, “flat” space. With an on-camera speaker, this is essential.
Footage of machine operations is almost always dark, especially in a machine enclosure. If you’re lucky, your CNC machine will contain internal lights. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a solution to brighten it up.
In almost every case, the cheapest and quickest solution for shop lighting would be LED panels. They provide a moderate amount of light and are capable of illuminating small- and medium-sized areas. Most have the option of being either AC or battery powered.
To find the right camera for your video projects you’ll need to know what your goals are for your videos. If you’re just getting started and testing out the idea of video content, you can use the most available camera to you: your cell phone. Cell phone video quality is acceptable for social media in a lot of cases, but when creating a branded YouTube channel or representing your company on a larger scale, you’ll want to look into purchasing semi-professional equipment. Hiring a professional team for your internal content pieces is costly, so here are a few suggestions on the types of cameras that you can add to your gear bag:
Digital Camcorders are a good way to go if you’re looking for an easy setup and recording process.
They have automatic settings to film long-form content (over 30 minutes in length). Digital camcorders provide high-quality video, and are available with resolutions up to 4K.
DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras with detachable lenses are another option and are a step between camcorders and professional video cameras in terms of creating a more “cinematic” look.
These cameras create stunningly sharp imagery and depth-of-field (the blurred background). There are many limits on their recording times and some have issues with overheating during long recording sessions. The added bonus of these cameras: they are fully functional photography cameras making them an essential part of a marketing department’s gear bag.
Now let’s take a moment to think about the type of content you want to record.
Let’s say you want to film a CNC operation and see the tools cutting. You certainly don’t want to put an expensive DSLR inside of a running CNC machine, especially if it’s using coolant.
GoPros or similar “action” cameras are a great solution for internal machine video recording.
They attach to the inside of a machine in a variety of different ways, including suction cups, magnets, or simple clamps. Be sure to invest in a waterproof cover, especially if there is coolant involved.
Note: coolant may break down the plastic over time, but it’s cheaper to replace a cover instead of buying an entirely new camera.
Whatever you end up choosing, the important thing is that you are creating content, as opposed to doing nothing.
There are limitless gear combinations and setups, but these are just a few suggestions from past experiences in the video marketing world, because if you’re not creating valuable content, you’re not making money.