How to Make a Video

Video Production Charlotte NC, how to make a video

So you’re interested in learning how to make a video right? Good if I can save you some of the hard work it took me to learn then I’m happy to. This is a step process so if you already know one part, I suggest reading anyway but you might be able to jump ahead.


Pre-Production (Planning)

What type of video do you need to make? Put together a list of all the information you know about what type of video(s) you’re going to make. This is very important because it will determine what equipment and software you should get. If you’re just shooting music videos then you’ll want to buy a different camera than you would if you’re shooting corporate videos. Here’s some questions to get you started.

  • What’s my full budget for everything? (not just the camera)
  • Do I need to record quality audio?
  • Will I be doing slow motion or anything other then just regular video?
  • Do I need to film from far away?
  • Do I want it to look like film or tv?
  • Is it mainly for web, dvd or tv?
  • How much editing will I be doing?
  • Will I be adding a lot of graphics in the edit?
  • Will I be editing at one place, or several places?
  • Where will I be distributing my videos?
  • Who is the target of my videos?
  • What is the goal of my videos? (Most important question to answer)


Those questions will help you decide what type of equipment to buy. Here are the possible items you’ll need. You may not need all of them at first.


These lists are essential equipment. I’ll create another How to Make Videos Advanced article with info including additional equipment.


  • Camera
  • Mic (for higher quality you’ll need an external shotgun mic and a boom, or a wireless lavaliere mic for interviews)
  • Tripod
  • Lights
  • Extra Batteries (at least one extra)



  • Computer (laptop or desktop depending on mobility)
  • External Hard Drives (raw video footage is very big, and it needs to be backed up in at least 2 places, also you shouldn’t edit footage stored on your main drive)
  • Editing Software (mac or pc, beginner, intermediate or advanced)


Pre-Production (Planning)

First part of the process for creating any video is always going to be planning or “pre-production.” The more prepared you are, the smoother and faster things will go. But most won’t take my word (I learned the hard way too). It may be a lesson everyone has to learn the hard way.

  • Write a Treatment – Treatment is just a summary of what the video is about. It’s a great first step.
  • Write a Script – Yes this may not be a film but you still may have dialogue, it’s important to map out everything that happens in the video. It helps you develop the video better and helps get everyone involved is on the same page.
  • Secure a Location – Depending on the type of location you’re looking for this may be the easiest or most difficult part of the process for you. Keep in mind, location is something that will greatly increase or decrease production value. Often times if you don’t know the owner of an establishment they may let you use the space for a fee, but you never know til you ask.
  • Casting – You need to find actors/actresses otherwise known as the “talent.” There’s plenty of people looking to make it as actors, I suggest putting aside something in your budget to hire talent, even if you don’t have much money, pay them something. You’ll find much higher quality talent if you pay.
  • Prompt – If your video is an actor speaking more than a small paragraph directly to the camera, you’ll need a teleprompter. If you don’t have the cash for the real one, then grab an ipad. Hold it behind the camera and a little above. Watch your angle though! Too high and it will become obvious the actor is not looking into the lens.


Production value is basically the level of quality your video appears to have. A nice dolly shot may increase the overall production value because your video looks like it cost more money to make.

Script and Shot List

A script and shot list are important for any type of video to ensure that you capture everything you need for the edit. Re-shooting is very expensive in the film world and even if you’re just shooting a no-budget youtube video,  it’s always a pain. A video script is not the same format as a film script. A video script is written in the format of a shooting script.
-[Resource: How to Write a Video Script]

A Shooting script is the entire video written in a document consisting of 2 columns, side by side. The left side is the video and the right side is the audio. You put video and audio that are happening at the same time side by side.

The shooting script is chronological and the shot list is not. The shot list, which is just a basic spreadsheet of your shots, should group shots together based on camera location. If you’re filming a dialogue between 2 people using reverse, ots (over the shoulder) shots, you would film the whole dialogue from one angle, then move the camera and film the other. This is a funny concept at first because editing makes the conversation appear to be seamless, although unless it’s a multi-camera shoot, the actors are probably delivering their sides of the conversation at different times.

Ex. Shot List

 X  #   Shot                          Action       Notes
1  Wide  Squirley walks into the saloon  Some dust in air
2  Med Squirley looks left then right
3  CU Spots something and freezes
4  Long Reaches for gun slow motion
5  ECU Cocks hammer  need sound fx

Script Terms
Est Shot = Establishing Shot (the initial shot of a scene, “establishing” the location)
Ext = Exterior (outside)
Int = Interior (yup, inside)
Wide = Full actor plus a good bit of surroundings
Long Shot = Full Actor Head to Toe
Medium Shot = Actor Waist-Up
CU = Close-Up (ex. doorknob)
ECU = Extreme Close-Up (ex. eye)


Securing good locations is one of the most difficult things without a budget. It’s a very common amatuer mistake to not recognize the importance of the location you’re shooting in, it’s definitely one of the best ways to increase the production value of your video. just realize there’s a big difference between your kitchen and a romantic rooftop moon-lit dinner.  Begin scouting and securing locations in the verybeginning otherwise it will get put off and you’ll end up taking anything last minute and your video will look homemade. All the good places to shoot expect to be compensated for their space/time therefore it’s difficult to secure quality locations on a shoestring budget. You can find good locations but it takes time without money and that’s why you need to begin early on in the process.

This concludes part 1 (pre-production) of the 3-part series “How to Make a Video” part 2 (production) is coming soon.

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