I just finished my third yoga DVD and I feel completely re-energized. As a director and cameraman, I have always enjoyed shooting fitness videos since the process inspires my own athletic practice and yoga studies. With each shoot, I learn something new, so I thought it would be valuable to share my insights with fitness and yoga instructors who are considering producing their own videos. I’ve culled together some tips and considerations to help people avoid pitfalls and ways in which they can elevate their fitness video productions.
Spending the money to produce a yoga video is a gamble for sure, but you can hedge your bet by doing your homework to ensure that your yoga DVD has a good shot at recouping your investment and (hopefully) making a good profit. The cost to produce a professional fitness DVD can range from $ 25 to $ 30K so you want to be sure you’ve considered all the elements before firing up the cameras. Of course there are many variables that can alter the budget, and a lot of videos cost well over $ 30K, but that’s a good starting point. There is another intangible reason to producing a professional yoga DVD – to promote yourself. Instructional videos allow you to market your name in such a way that word-of-mouth alone cannot accomplish. It will ultimately help strengthen your business and is an effective portfolio of your teaching practices.
1) Make sure your yoga DVD has a unique marketable approach – For those who don’t have a household name, best-selling yoga book or star power, you need to play on your strengths. You don’t need to be a Rodney Yee to sell a lot of yoga DVDs, but remember, there are dozens of yoga videos all competing for the same dollars. It’s important that your video stands out and has a unique niche market, for example, some successful videos include: pre-nadal yoga, yoga for cyclists, cross training in winter or hula-hooping fitness for everyone. There is a fine line between making sure there is a broad enough appeal and finding a good niche audience.
2) Choose the right location – Shooting in a beautiful setting can make a world of difference and will elevate the production value of the overall video.
3) Move that camera! – A moving camera can boost production value in a big way. Using a jib arm can not only keep the shot interesting for 30 seconds at a time but can also be helpful to show different angles as the camera floats around the body.
4) Multiple cameras with matching time code – To do a professional yoga or fitness video you need to shoot with at least two cameras, if not more, and those cameras should be synced with time code. I like to have one camera on a jib arm that is getting the wide shots while the second camera is shooting close ups. Adding a third camera is valuable if you have more than five people on screen at once.
5) Deciding how many people to have in the shot – This is a key factor in deciding how to set up your shoot and it is important to consider your reasons for using more or fewer practitioners to demonstrate. It’s always good to have at least one man and one woman unless your video is marketed for men or women only.
6) Voiceover? Or Direct to Camera? – You will need to consider if you want the host to address the audience or to use a VO before developing the script.The advantage of doing the exercise routine in Voice Over (also called VO), is that it allows you considerable flexibility once you’re in the edit room and it is easier to alter the script if and when needed. Personally, I like to switch it up. Have the yoga instructor start out on camera for the opening. If you do the entire practice on camera make sure to have a wireless headset microphone that moves with the instructor so you can consistently record clean audio.
7) Create more than one routine on a disc – While you don’t want to give away three DVDs worth of yoga on one disc, it’s nice to be able to offer a menu with a few options to choose from. I suggest a basic hour-long workout, a condensed half hour, and an advanced workout or practice. I would err on the side of making the disc feel substantial. Two different lengths of a similar routine is good because sometimes the viewer only has a half hour to spend with your DVD.
8) Chapter your DVD – There are certain sections on the DVD that your viewer will want to watch many times over as they do their routine. There are other sections that the viewer will only want to see once. Make sure each routine has its own chapter for the viewer’s convenience.
9) Know your market – This is key in establishing your audience and increases your possibilities of generating a profit. Do your research! Speak to your students and let them know you are considering creating an instructional video – chances are they’ll be happy to share with you their thoughts and/or interest. Is this something they would want to buy?
10) Create a beautiful DVD Cover and DVD Menu – They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the truth of the matter is we all do. DVD packaging is important especially when it comes to appealing to your audience. Something to consider is featuring your photo on the cover. You may be your DVD’s biggest selling point, so be ready for your close up.