Saturday, March 14, 2009
@BeckyMcCray, who is a long-time friend and colleague via Twitter, asked her Twitter stream if anyone had any how-to advice for beginning vloggers. If you're new to video blogging, presenting information, personality, or entertainment via video, you'll find great ideas here.
Be an individual. Learn from what others have done. Develop your own style, but keep evolving. Change is good when the improved results are worth the time and trouble. Listen to audience reactions. Don't worry about jealous underachievers and malicious trolls. Keep at it.
But how do you begin?
Let's skip the preliminaries. I assume you already understand the power of television, movies, and video. You came to this post because you probably have a good idea of what you'd like to do in a video.
10 Ways to Use Video:
1. Amuse yourself ... just for fun.
2. Entertain others ... maybe get discovered by Hollywood.
3. Promote products ... showing users solving a problem by using the product.
4. Start conversations ... on topics or fields you care about.
5. Showcase your expertise ... to gain clients or get a new job.
6. Make video art ... explore the realms of video painting and special effects.
7. Present information ... to employees, customers, users, sales force, seekers.
8. Educate newbies ... with step-by-step visually-oriented tutorials.
9. Display talent ... by making a video for music your band recorded.
10. Web conference ... by linking multiple participants or spectators through online video streaming.
Video Tips for Newbies
* Good webcam:
It all begins with high quality image and sound. Thus, those cheap webcams for kids are not want you want. Start with a decent camcorder or webcam (I use Logitech UltraVision webcam with HD image and sound, about $150.00 USD).
Your biggest problem at first will probably be audio volume.
You may wish to configure the sound settings to use a stand-alone USB microphone, rather than the built-in webcam mic. For my own music, I now put a WAV audio file into the video, rather than trying to capture live sound from my jamming. Music very easily overwhelms and distorts webcam microphones.
* Video capture effects:
Generally not used in corporate videos, tutorial films, documentaries, or business presentations. Definitely should be experimented with in artistic applications, like music videos and fun-product commercials.
You probably DO NOT want to use the talking baby face "mask" effect in your corporate presentation video, but this works for me:
"Social Media Marketing" video on YouTube is a satirical parody of social networking experts.
* Camera angle:
Why always dead-on, straight in your face?
Experiment with overhead, ceiling viewpoint shots, like you're a bird looking down on the action. Vary the angles. In tutorials, check how things are looking as you go along. Don't be afraid to do short individual segments, which a video editing software can splice together.
* Video editing tool:
Windows Movie Maker is pretty good for editing videos. PowerDirector is also good, and tonight I'm test driving the new Corel VideoStudio Pro X2.
For artists, the problem is you quickly exhaust all the special effects and transitions, so eventually, you're just repeating yourself. Move on to a new editing tool, many have free trial periods, so you can play with them and see if they're worth buying.
Generally boring, preluded with long introductions, full of dubious value bantering, and often veering off into tangents that waste your time.
Do a tutorial, an educated rant, or a flat out promotion or lecture. These formats tend to be easier to consume, faster to forage, and richer in mission critical content.
* Talking heads:
Turn on the camera, look right at it, and start talking? That's what most vloggers do, and that's why nobody's ever heard of them.
Or how about a glimpse into the bowels of a radio station or DJ booth?
Generally a disorganized, unfunny, intolerable visual and auditory drone. What was it about the videos you've seen in the past that made you value them, maybe even Twitter a link to them? I'll bet they were more than just somebody smoking cigarettes and chattering aimlessly at the camera.
* Video length:
Duration of video is extremely important. In most cases, videos should be as short as possible. Apply the micro-blogging brevity of Twitter to the visual arts. Concise. Quick. To the point.
(NOTE: I deliberately violated this rule of thumb recently. I did a satire, a parody of an interview with Jean Baudrillard, famous postmodern philosopher.
The interviewer asked this long, ten minute question, the typical intellectual query that's a lecture in disguise, while Baudrillard sat through the ordeal. My video poking fun at this situation is more comical if you watch at least some of the Baudrillard video first. Otherwise, you'll think "why does this go on so long?" )
"Streight interview - Twitter: Fundamental Misgivings" video on YouTube.
* Preview repeatedly:
There are millions of videos to watch. Make yours strike swiftly at the heart of the matter. Redo your video until you can watch it over and over again without flinching or daydreaming. If you've uploaded it to YouTube already, and it doesn't work for you anymore, either delete it or set it to private, so only you can view it.
* YouTube and other online hosting:
Your videos must be on YouTube, now owned by Google, for maximum search engine results and audience numbers. YouTube is where everybody goes first, when looking for entertainment, tutorials, rants, film clips, TV program segments (like Conan, Leno, Saturday Night Live, NASCAR) , and music videos.
I also upload videos to Vimeo and Rhizome at the New Museum. I have had good results with Kyte.tv and some others. Decide on how much you need or want to interact with other members of the video sharing sites. Find video hosting sites that are dedicated to your industry.
Include videos on your main corporate site or blog.
Consider the video as just one more communication tool. Video is ideal and mandatory for showing things that have to be seen to be believed, like product demos. Also for explaining what is difficult to comprehend in words alone, like how to do caning when repairing a wicker chair.
* Avant garde exposure:
Force yourself to watch some art films, like at Archive.org or Ubu Web. Check out all the artists on Ubu Film and Video. View films by George Kuchar, Michael Snow, Dali, Warhol, Paul McCarthy, and other innovators.
Most experimental films go on too long, far after the point has been made. Perhaps that's to use ennui as a tool, to drill the technique or concept into your mind.
But you can learn a lot just fast forwarding these films, or watching half of them, and skipping to taste more video work by other artists. The artists will hate me for saying this, but I'm one of them, and I don't care what they think.
This is a guaranteed way to get ideas and motivation. Watch those underground cult classics and obscure artist experiments. If you just watch videos from colleagues in your field, you'll be tempted to imitate them. Learn from them, but don't expect to discover new ground.