Nov 10, 2020
Creating great video content takes a lot of work. It also requires a lot of pieces coming together at just the right time and it just the right way.
Quality matters. It can be the difference between a mediocre video and one that goes viral. And so it’s pretty normal for filmmakers to always be on the lookout for ways to improve their process and — perhaps more importantly — the final product.
Some people spend time watching YouTube tutorials, or trying new techniques until they figure them out. But if you want to find things that will help you make an immediate improvement on the videos you make, then these three tips will show you how to improve your video quality.
There are a lot of factors that go into “video quality,” from technical specs to personal taste. The steps you take to improve your videos can vary based upon where you are in your filmmaking journey. There are a lot of questions out there that can make you feel like you’re barely keeping up with everyone else.
For example, do you use DaVinci Resolve’s coloring suite? Does your equipment stash look like a catalog for lenses? How do you use pre-production planning to set yourself up for success on each shoot?
I can’t answer those questions for you, and I’m not even sure these are things that every creator should worry about. But what I can do is step back and list out three easy steps that any filmmaker can take on how to improve video quality right away.
Color correction and color grading are the two slices of bread in any post-production sandwich. It’s easy to become familiar with how to color in your preferred piece of video editing software. If you can master that skill (or at least become decent at it), then you raise the ceiling of what you can make.
This is also a skill that helps you make up for lower budgets or limited gear. You might not have the camera or the lens variety that you really want. (And if we’re being honest, who does?) But you don’t need a $10,000 rig to create videos you’re proud of.
Color correction, if done well, can absolutely mask any limitations you might have. And using color grading to build your own visual style can help you boost your videos’ overall quality, if not the actual quality of your unedited footage.
It’s also a skill you can build over time as you get more familiar with your editing software and all the other resources — i.e plugins or extensions — available to you.
No filmmaker is good at everything. Just let that sink in for a moment. Most of us wear so many hats that it’s impossible to excel at every piece of content creation. That’s why making great videos is often a collaborative process.
Maybe you work with a team so you can divide and conquer. Or maybe you use online tools to help you edit, color correct, and create transitions for your videos. Maybe you use stock video and royalty free music to add some polish and emotional impact to a project.
But even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, you can make good use of integrated plugins. These are tools that are either built into or added to your go-to editing software for the sole purpose of making your life easier.
At Soundstripe, one of our favorite Premiere Pro plugins is Morph Cuts (which is actually built into the software already). This plugin uses an AI algorithm to create artificial frames to hide jump cuts. So if you’re trying to compensate for not having a second camera, Morph Cuts can make it all look seamless for you.
And that’s just one plugin. The point is that plugins can help you compensate for areas that are blind spots for you. So in terms of how to improve video quality, finding the perfect plugin can provide an immediate boost for your process.
Video codecs handle the compression of terabyte-sized unedited footage into megabit-sized .mp4 files. When you are exporting from a video editor like Premiere Pro, you’ll have to choose a target format for that file.
A codec handles a few different steps. It’s basically tasked with compressing the visual and audio elements, but also carrying the data to let other programs decode that information so it still looks good for viewers.
Different codecs and file types do a better job of preserving different elements of a project. Apple’s .mov file is often seen as a universal choice...but it doesn’t work on most PC video players, which could make file sharing and collaborating difficult.
In some cases, you might choose the ProRes codec because it works best with Apple’s .mov file type. H.264 is probably the most popular codec for sharing files, and H.265 is an upgraded version that’s better with 4K footage.
Obviously, any sort of compression has an effect on the video quality — you’re squeezing a gargantuan amount of data into something that is more accessible to viewers. Understanding what codecs do (and which ones work best for the video you’re making) can go a long way in maximizing the overall quality of the final product.
These three steps revolve mostly around the technical side of making video. But let’s be honest: Sometimes the aspect you want to improve is more about the quality of the presentation.
Sound design goes a long way in achieving that, whether that is Foley sound effects for a short film or royalty free ambient music to play behind your weekly vlog updates. If you’re working on bigger projects, resources like a storyboard template can help you visualize and prepare for each shoot.
Tools like this don’t just help you get organized — they also help you make the most of the gear you have, and let you imagine how certain editing tricks (like plugins and color grading) could help you elevate the project so it turns into something you’re really proud of.
And when you’re searching for how to improve video quality in your next project, that’s just the kind of help that you can benefit from right away.