What makes a website video look cheap?

Posted 20th September 2016
by Jonathan

We all like a bargain. But there is something about the word ‘cheap’ which makes you want to avoid it.

Sometimes a website video can look cheap and it’s really subtle things that individually you might not notice, but collectively make the video look amateurish.

Cheap website video is not a good thing

I can’t use the word ‘cheap’ without …as chips!’ And who comes to mind, but Mr ‘Cheap as chips’ himself David Dickinson. Click above to visit David’s ‘cheap’ website, and find out how he and his wife survived a tsunami.

Audio is almost as important as pictures if not more so. When a video sounds like it’s been recorded in an echo chamber it’s because the person being interviewed isn’t wearing a radio microphone and the sound is recorded on the camera itself. Or you see someone wearing a microphone which is the size of a large insect from the Australian jungle on the interviewees chest.

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‘Get this thing off me’

Nothing actually happens in the first 30 seconds. If anything screams cheap corporate video it’s shots of buildings and logos taking up the first 30 seconds of a video. I believe the viewer / listener needs to know the point of a video within the first 10 seconds. If you don’t manage that you’ve probably lost their interest for good.

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Named and shamed. The video above is a typical ‘buildings with graphics’ opening sequence where nothing happens for 30 seconds.

Duration. The skills of a good video producer is to tell the story in a short time, and good website video really shouldn’t be stretching beyond two minutes. Sometimes a video for an event is uploaded to a company website but an audience trapped in a conference room captivated to watch a corporate video epic for 18 minutes have far more freedom online, and will soon use the click of the mouse to escape.

Another blog- The 5 weirdest situations I’ve filmed in!

Graphics. Good graphics and certainly animation can be costly to make. But ironically too many graphics can make a video look amateurish especially when they are made by someone who is not a graphics designer (I’m not a graphic designer so feel qualified to say this!). The need for more graphics is usually down to things they forgot to film, and as many don’t watch a film they just listen, then these graphics are meaningless.

Finally- Interviews filmed at strange angles. There is a subtle difference to filming someone correctly and then going all art house. If the film is about a serial killer in your company then interviews at funny angles are perfect, or if it’s a video about plastic surgery disasters then extreme profile shots are just right. But only then.

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Aggghhhh. Funny interview angles, heavy background music, interview subjects wearing sunglasses.

People like to have a really good look at people on film as the person being looked at can’t look back, so they need to be filmed properly.

All of the above is just my opinion from my time making broadcast TV and website video. Styles change and there are no hard and fast rules but a combination of the above can make video look cheap.

The irony is the cheap video was probably quite expensive because the person who made it charged last decades prices (when few videos were made so they were more expensive) but also using last decades techniques.

Another blog- 6 tips to looking good on camera

Author: Jonathan is the Managing Director and camera operator of Bellyflop.tv and films almost all of the videos.