Ever wondered how pro YouTubers and filmmakers manage to make those super high-quality videos? Well, you can do the same by following these 20 tips to make your video your video look professional.
So how do you make professional videos? It comes down to three things: the equipment you use, the way you film your shots, and how you edit your shots. Getting these three things right is what separates the professional-looking videos from amateur videos. I’ll be covering all three of them in the 20 tips below.
You really don’t need a whole team of filmmakers and a million-dollar budget to make a professional video. All you need to do is follow these tips and your videos will look like they’ve been produced by a high-end production studio. Read on and let’s get started!
1. Use the Right Camera
We all know the saying ‘a workman is only as good as his tools’. Well, the same saying applies here. To make a professional video, you need a professional camera. The best looking videos out there are shot in high resolutions.
It’s definitely possible to create a professional looking video with an iPhone camera, but it’s not easy. It’s much better to invest in a camera that’s been designed for real video making. If you’re a vlogger and plan on filming yourself a lot, I’d recommend the Canon G7X. It gets the job done and it’s affordable.
2. Pay Attention to Lighting
It’s crucial to get the lighting right if you want your videos to have that professional look. The lighting of your video has a huge effect on the overall image quality. If you’re shooting indoors, you might want to invest in some work lights or build your own lighting rig using fluorescent bulbs and a reflective surface.
If you’re shooting outdoors, you should aim to do so on an overcast, bright day. The best time of day to film is in the early hours of the morning in the late evening as the shadows will be less harsh.
3. Use Professional Video Editing Software
You might think that filmmaking is all about the filming part, but in reality, post-production is just as important. It’s during the editing process that your videos really take shape and start looking professional.
To do a good job of editing your videos, you’ll need the right software. Windows Movie Maker is okay for hobbyists, but it doesn’t cut the mustard if you’re aiming for a professional edit. Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro (if you’re using a macOS), and Sony Vegas are all great options.
4. Perform Colour Correction in Post
Once you have the right video editing software, you’ll want to use it to perform colour correction on your videos. You can learn how to use colour correction to make your videos look more professional online.
You might need to lift the highlights, boost the midtones, raise the colour saturation, and fix the white balance in order to make your video look as good as it can. It really depends on the footage.
5. Edit Smooth Jump Cuts
Jump cuts are when your video shot suddenly changes to another shot. You’ll almost always need to use them in your videos, but if you don’t make them smooth, they can look really amateur, jagged, and ‘jumpy’.
To make them look more professional, blend the audio slightly so that each of the clips audio overlaps to prevent any sudden harsh sound changes. Adding a background track can also help with that. You can also crop the frame of the clips in post to make the transition smoother for continuity. Speaking of transitions…
6. Vary Your Transitions
Transitions are really important when it comes to making professional videos. Amateur filmmakers tend to do static shots with either harsh jump cuts or weird, amateur looking crossfades. Professionals, on the other hand, tend to handle transitions with more finesse and often get much more experimental.
You might, for example, want to experiment with defocus transitions, fade in/out’s, cross-zooms… there are a lot of different types worth mentioning. The important thing is to make sure that the transition works with your specific clip and evokes the right mood.
For example, a fade-out to black (and back in again) can work well to show the passage of time. Read up on cinematic transitions and apply what you learn to make your movies more professional.
7. Think About Depth of Field
Depth of field is something that often separates amateur-quality videos from professional-quality videos, so it’s important to get it right. Depth of field refers to the focus of your camera. Shallow depth of field is when the foreground is in focus and the background is blurred. Deep depth of field is the opposite; when the background is in focus and the foreground is blurred.
Most good-quality cameras let you set the depth of field. If you’re filming your subject up close, you might want to use a shallow focus on your camera with a nice, blurred background. This can make your shot look much more professional. If you want to highlight something in the background, use deep depth of field.
It can also help your videos to look more professional if you play around with the focus. You could, for example, use a depth of field change as part of a transition into your next video clip.
8. Use a Separate Mic
Making your videos sound professional is just as important as making them look professional. You’ll want the quality of any speech in your videos to be as crisp and clear as possible.
To get that professional sound quality, you’ll need to use a separate mic. Most cameras – even the high-end ones – have pretty bad in-built mics. Even if the camera itself is fairly expensive, the in-built mic is likely to be low quality.
Therefore, you should use a separate mic instead and then sync up the audio in post-production (editing). Depending on the type of video your making, you might want to buy a shotgun mic, a boom mic, or a lavalier mic.
9. Add background music
As I said, audio is important, but it’s not just dialogue that matters, it’s other elements like music too. In fact, professional filmmakers often spend thousands or even millions of dollars on getting the ‘score’ of their videos just right.
Obviously, you don’t have to go to those lengths, but if you’re making YouTube videos, you might want to add in a copyright-free background track to help with video continuity and add the right mood. You might also want to add some sound effects to mix things up and make your video more watchable.
10. Steady Your Camera Shots
Nothing bounces a viewer faster than wobbly, unsteady, blurry camera shots. If you want your videos to look professional, you’ll need to keep things steady – but that can be easier said than done if you’re someone with naturally shaky hands.
Here are some tips for keeping your hands steady and minimizing camera shake:
- Tuck your elbows in and press them into your chest for added stability
- Exhale before you start filming so that your out breath doesn’t cause shake
- Use your knee as a tripod by crouching and leaning your elbow against it
Or, even better, don’t hold the camera in your hands at all. Instead…
11. Use a Tripod
Using a tripod means you don’t have to worry about camera shake. Your shot will be kept in place by your camera and come out super smooth.
Using a tripod also allows you to potentially shoot your videos from higher angles that you could reach with your arms alone, which can help you to vary your shots even more so that your videos look more professional.
12. Stabilize your shots in post
If you can’t afford a tripod, and tip number 10 isn’t helping you to keep things steady, don’t worry – you can always stabilize your shots in post.
Most good video editing software will have stabilization effects that you can use to even out shaky footage. This can make your videos look more professional. If the video editing software you’re using doesn’t have a stabilization effect, you might be able to download a plugin online that can do the same job, or manually stabilize it by panning and cropping the frame.
13. Use a Drone
Using a drone can be another great way to make your videos look more professional. You can use a drone to get amazing aerial view shots that you can use as establishing shots in your videos. Good drones are expensive, but they usually have really high-quality cameras that can shoot in 4k resolution.
The biggest and best professional YouTube channels tend to use drones a lot – especially travel channels. If you do use a drone, make sure you’re aware of the laws in the place you plan on filming. In some areas, you can’t legally fly them.
14. Frame Your Video Using the ‘Rule of Thirds’
The rule of thirds is a simple principle of video composition that will help you to make professional videos. The principle states that whenever you shoot a video, imagine that your frame is split into a 3×3 grid.
Then, line up your subject or any points of interest (basically anything you want to draw the viewers attention to) with the imaginary lines. This will help you to compose your frame in a way that looks the most professional and engaging for the viewer.
15. Include Pattern Interrupts
Pattern interrupts are essentially just changes in the flow of your video. You use them to break up ‘static shots’ and introduce a little variety. It’s a staple of all professional videos and an absolute must-use if you’re trying to make something your viewers will enjoy watching.
Instead of making a video with one long, continuous shot, mix it up with pattern interrupts such as:
- Changing the angle or focus
- Introducing music
- Adding text
- Cutting to a different image or shot
- Zooming in/out
Or anything else you can think of. Get creative with it!
16. Understand Your Audience and Purpose
The best videos are those that are created with a specific audience and purpose in mind. Is your video supposed to be informative? If so, don’t focus too much on making it entertaining – your viewers probably aren’t interested in being entertained and just want information.
Conversely, if your video is primarily for entertainment, and you expect your viewers are watching it to be entertained, don’t make it dry and boring. Think about who your viewers are and what they want to see, and create your video to give them what they want. It might seem obvious, but it’s an important point and one that many amateur video makers get wrong.
17. Avoid Too Much Camera Movement
Sometimes, panning and tracking shots are justified. But at other times, a stable, static shot might be better. If you’re filming something stationary, keep your camera steady.
Don’t move it around if there’s no reason to. Doing so will just make your viewer dizzy and introduce ‘motion blur’, which will make your videos look less professional.
18. Film in a Higher Resolution
Good cameras will let you modify the resolution setting. If your videos don’t seem to be coming out looking professional, you might not be filming in a high enough resolution. At a minimum, your camera should be able to shoot in 1080p. For that super-cinematic look, you’ll want a camera that can shoot in 4k.
19. Mix Up the Speed
As I said earlier, variety is an important part of making your videos look professional. Another way to introduce some variety is to play around with your video speed. If you film in a high frame rate, you can slow down your footage for super slow-mo shots.
Alternatively, you can speed things up or utilize time-lapse shots for a really cool, professional video effects.
20. Use Opening and Ending Credits
Opening and ending credits can introduce an element of branding to your video and make it feel a lot more professional. After all, all professional Hollywood movies have opening and closing credits, so yours should too.
As you’ll typically use the same opening credit in all of your YouTube videos, spend some time on making sure it looks right. Get creative. You might want to use a cool animated opening sequence or a montage of some of your channel highlights.
Final Thoughts on Professional Video Making
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into making your videos look professional. If you’re feeling like you’ve still got a lot to learn, the good news is that you don’t have to know it all right now.
Like any art form, making great videos is a skill that takes time to master. It’s always worth striving for perfection, but even the most professional filmmakers out there still have room for improvement.
Use the tips above to guide your progress and incorporate as many of them as you can, and keep getting better and better. You’ll be making super professional videos before you know it! Good luck!