There are a wide range of video contests out there, put on by all kinds of companies and products, in a variety of themes. The smaller contests will have smaller prizes, but they will also have less competition, so they are still worth considering. To find a contest that appeals to you here are a few sites to explore:
- Online Video Contests
- Video Contest News
- Zoopa Brand–Sponsored Video Contests
- VideoMaker Community Contests
Do Your HomeworkMake sure that you read the rules and judging criteria carefully. Knowing how a winner will be chosen will help you make a video that will fit the bill.
Scripting and Story LineHaving a good story is key, so take the time to brainstorm until you have a story you are confident in. You want a moving story that fits in with the contest theme and connects with the viewer. Humor is often one way to draw people in, but it isn't always easy to pull off and certainly isn't the only option. You can tug at the heart strings or appeal to people's sense of justice, etc. The goal is always to create a story people will want to watch through to the end.
Practice and TimingSince you will almost always have a time limit, you need to make sure you can take your story from beginning to end in the time allowed. With a limited amount of time, subplots and tangents should scrapped, and you need to grab your audience in the beginning. You want to start with a strong hook, and keep things moving through the conclusion. When reading through your script and practicing, you should not only make sure you are familiar with the dialogue, working on making it sound natural and animated, you should also be testing how long it takes to read through. Does it fit within the video time limitations? As you go through this process you should think about if there are any awkward phrases you should remove, or other edits to either cut down the length or help with the rhythm of your story and keep things moving forward.
SponsorsDepending on who is sponsoring the contest you may want to try to work them into your video. Maybe use one of their products as a prop or have it in the background. If they are doing the judging this could earn you some brownie points, but don't force it if it really doesn't make sense with your story.
Dialogue and AudioAudio quality in your video matters. It is an important part of a film as a whole, and poor audio can detract from a film and cause people to lose interest, so don't forget about the audio. Dialogue should sound natural and animated, which can be a challenge both in writing and performing, as well as in recording. You should strongly consider using an external microphone for recording high quality audio. You want the dialogue to be easy to hear and understand, and have a consistent volume between shots.
If you do use the built in microphone on your camcorder remember you can still separate the audio from the video so you clean the audio, remove background noise, normalize and make other adjustments. For a closer look at some important audio editing features you may want to use, see our list of WavePad audio editing tips and tricks.
Adding MusicAdding music to your soundtrack can help draw the audience in, but be sure to balance the volume with any dialogue. And make sure that you either get permission before using copyrighted music from the publisher, or steer clear of copy protected music altogether and use royalty-free music and original works. You may be required to provide proof of copyright/permission for the audio in your video with your submission; using copyrighted music without permission can not only get your video disqualified, it can cause legal problems, so getting and sending proof of permission for a piece of music is in your best interests.
Filming and EditingImportant things to remember are that you want to maintain sharp focus and limit the amount of zooming and camera movement. Consider using a tripod during filming. Shaking can be removed from video using video stabilization, and if you are using handheld camcorders or cell phones this will be a necessary step, but using a tripod will eliminate the need for stabilization in editing.
For a closer look at some more VideoPad editing features you may want to use, see our post on video editing tips and tricks, but remember you want to entertain the audience, not to make them nauseous. Excessive camera movement or overdoing the effects can be distracting, and like everything else you want the transitions and movement to support the story, not draw attention to itself.
Double Check EverythingBefore you send in you video be sure to double check everything. Did you follow all of the guidelines? Is the movie saved in the correct format and does it meet the time requirements? After all of the work you put in it you don't want to have your video thrown out because you forgot something. If you will be submitting your video on a DVD, do not include menus unless they were asked for. The judges will will be watching hundreds of entries, so this is another case where time matters and they will want the video to start playing automatically.
Submit Your VideoWhen you're sure you have dotted all your i's and crossed all your t's send in your submission. If it is being judged by the community be sure to let your friends, family and colleagues know to check it out and vote for you, otherwise it will now be out of your hands. But win or lose, you should have a video you are proud of.
If you have any more advice to share please comment, and Good Luck with your videos!