flick fusion

How to Shoot Professional Quality Videos with a Smartphone

When dealerships first start their video marketing programs, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will I have to buy an expensive camera?” The answer is no. Just about everyone these days has a smartphone that can shoot HD video. When used properly, the quality of video produced can be exceptional. All it takes is practice.

Most dealers start with inventory walkaround videos and these are probably the trickiest videos to shoot, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.

First, to ensure a good high-resolution (and non-pixelated) video, adjust your camera setting to record video at 1920 x 1080 and 30 frames per second (fps), unless you plan to extract your still images for the inventory from the video.  In that case you may want to utilize 60 frames per second (fps).

Next, invest in a stabilizer. Most smartphones have a pretty good stabilizer built into them today, but they will only make a good video better. This is the merchandising layer for your inventory that most shoppers are going to view, so invest in the tools that you need to provide the best experience for your shoppers that you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can walk around the vehicle while holding the smartphone steady in your hand. The result will be a bouncy video that will make your viewers seasick and result in low video completion rates.

A hand-held stabilizer or tripod is better than nothing, but if you want to produce the best quality video invest in a 3-axis gimbal for a couple hundred bucks. It is worth every penny! For top of the line stabilization a 4-axis gimbal is even better, but may run you a couple thousand.

Currently we recommend using a set-up that includes your smartphone, and the DJI OSMO camera/gimbal combo. This is a really cool camera that takes amazing quality video and connects wirelessly with your smartphone, so you can use your smartphone to view what the camera is recording.

You can find a DJI OSMO starter kit for around $500 and depending on how you want to accessorize it, you may spend $700 to $800. This is a small investment that will make your inventory shine!  GoPro also offers some great camera/stabilizer combinations that cost less and produce very good quality videos as well.

Once you have a stabilizer, the next thing you’ll want to address is lighting. Smartphones have small lenses so adequate lighting is critical. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re shooting outdoors, but always position the vehicle so you will not be pointing the camera into direct light, such as the sun.

When you first begin shooting walkarounds, you may want to allow extra time to shoot the entire video two or three times. With each ‘take,’ experiment with different ISO settings, which measure your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On a sunny day your ISO settings will be lower and on cloudy days your ISO settings will be higher. If you do shoot on a sunny day, avoid shooting midday because that’s when the sun casts the harshest shadows. Instead, schedule shoots for early morning or late afternoon.

For vehicle walkarounds, you want to feature shots panning the side of the vehicle, as well as the front and back so the viewer has a good sense of what the vehicle looks like from all angles. Open the doors and shoot the interior, both front and back.

Then focus on shooting the features that you will use to sell the car, such as the Infotainment system, new tires, safety features, etc. The total length of your walkaround videos can range from one to four minutes. Don’t believe experts who tell you that all videos have to be one minute or less. Though this is probably true for a bad or dull video, if the presentation is informative and entertaining, two, three or even four minutes is okay. There are plenty of dealerships that get 80 to 90 percent completion rates with videos that long, and plenty of dealerships that only get a 50 to 60 percent completion rate with their bouncy and dull one- minute videos.

If you are worried about the audio track for your videos, you can have your photographer shoot your videos and have a data driven audio track added to the video automatically.  If you are adding your own audio while shooting the videos, or if you decide to shoot your walkaround videos featuring a salesperson or spokesperson giving a live presentation, invest in a good noise-cancelling microphone.

Either way you can always go back and replace the audio layer of the video if you want or need to without having to re-shoot the video.  You can even personalize the audio layer of the videos for specific leads (personalized walkarounds) without having to shoot another video, saving you a LOT of time while producing an identical personalized walkaround video to one that was shot from scratch.

Finally, expect that the first few videos you create will probably suck. Don’t be discouraged! Practice makes perfect. Keep doing it and eventually things will click. Pretty soon you will find your own unique style and every walkaround video will become a mini-masterpiece.

What tips do you have for shooting professional quality video with your smartphone?

[VIDEO] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 2: Is It Right For Me

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

Six NADA Takeaways

by Gina Reuscher, Director of Marketing, Flick Fusion

What happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas! It was great to connect with friends and partners at this year’s NADA conference. I would like to share six takeaways that resonated with me from this year’s exposition:

1) The importance of third-party integrations. Partnerships are the lifeblood of this industry, making new technologies more available and affordable for auto dealers. We couldn’t agree more! At Flick Fusion we value our partners and look forward to developing new relationships in this area; specifically with website providers and CRMs.

2) Big data is not a new topic, but it feels like we’re just learning how to best disseminate, organize and analyze the data we have been collecting to use in an efficient way for both car dealers and customers along the car-buying journey. Flick Fusion is a key component in closing the loop between online and offline ‘big data’ throughout the car buying journey. Our platform collects data from pre-, during and post-sale video views, then develops rule and behavior-based responses, allowing car dealers to leverage their data without having to think about it.

3) Going global. Many vendors made announcements or have plans to make announcements to expand their markets beyond the United States. The automotive economy has been an upswing in the U.S. so it’s a great time to be thinking of expanding reach into new areas.

4) Kitty Van Bortel winning the 2016 Time Dealer of the Year award. Not only is this is a huge win for women in the automotive industry, but it’s an example of true leadership and legacy. On a personal note, Kitty’s story about being a breast cancer survivor really hit home. At the show I received some bad news about a close friend of mine who has been battling the disease. It makes me realize that business and personal causes can go hand in hand, and we all have a responsibility to give back in some way, if we have the ability.

5) Peyton Manning. Who knew this guy was so inspirational? Two quotes stood out in my mind: “When looking back to analyze my game, I ask myself three things: What did I notice that was different, valuable and when mastered, can move me towards my goal.” Another great quote from Peyton was, “Leading from example is not the main tool to influence others, it’s the ONLY tool.” For automotive vendors, this comes down to walking the talk, both in business and personally.

6) In closing, I want to bring up another observation that surprised me. I couldn’t help but notice a huge gap in video advertising at this year’s show. NADA 2016 hosted 25+ OEM meetings, 64+ NEW workshops and over 130 total workshop sessions. Yet, not one of these sessions featured video marketing as a topic.

Bill Fox, last year’s chairman of NADA, made a compelling call to dealers to recognize, confront and adapt to change. Nothing has changed the marketing landscape in recent years like video, so at Flick Fusion we hear Fox’s call as both a challenge and opportunity.

Video marketing allows car dealers to take their #1 asset: their vehicle inventory, and create hundreds of advertisements that can be simulcast across dozens of Internet channels. Video is the #1 searched media in the world, so it’s a perfect complement to dealers’ current advertising programs at a fraction of the cost of traditional media.

Flick Fusion is a pioneer in video marketing with a superior platform, so we’re excited to take up this challenge and make 2016 the year of video marketing for the automotive industry.

We’re looking forward to January 2017 and the 100th anniversary of NADA in New Orleans. But before that, we hope to see you in Las Vegas once again, for the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo in August!

What do you think the most important themes were to come out of NADA?