The global lockdown has undoubtably forced everyone to be way more resourceful. From the way we work, to the amped up use of technology to facilitate other everyday things like family time, entertainment and shopping. This is especially prevalent in the avalanche of video that’s been pushed out over the past month. 

The vlog outlet in particular has truly been embraced. In isolation folks have posted social media videos including words of encouragement, their journey in learning a new skill, songs learned on guitar and tips to help others succeed. Done regularly, they will teeter on becoming a fully-fledged creator or influencer, and I’m in no doubt that a few will go on to do that. 

I’ve always found it fairly cathartic to video my own thoughts from time to time, to review at a later date or just to get things off my mind but retained somewhere if I ever needed them. I’ve often considered starting a vlog or YouTube channel myself. In this article I thought I’d look at how easy it is to become a creator or launch a channel if you don’t have the equipment or even the ideas.

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Getting inspired

“Inspiration” is pivotal in launching a channel on YouTube or IGTV. Like any social media platform, you have to have a niche and purpose. It can be vlogging your day-to-day life, teaching others new skills in bitesized chunks or just sharing reviews on your favourite books or films – but there has to be a niche. So look around your home, online networks and things you’ve done in the past that you feel would be worthwhile sharing. There will be something, no matter how small, and there will be like-minded folks out there who will watch your content.

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Do you NEED a fancy camera?

Once you’ve established your focus, you need to work out how you’re going to film the videos. Do you have a fancy camera? Do you NEED a fancy camera? I would say no, you don’t need a camera to do this. Most phones have a more than capable camera and with the right apps you can use them to streamline getting your videos online at the end. However, if you have and know how to use a DSLR or dedicated video camera then you should opt for that as the components can yield far better results. A lot of channels talk about focusing on manual camera settings, but if you’re just starting out and just want to get your videos out there asap, then “auto” will be the stress-free way to get it done. 

Just make sure, however you do it your camera is stable! Tripods are best, but handy tape and a chair back work just as well – get creative if necessary.

So, I’m done right?

Now, those two things alone are certainly the basis for getting your videos out there. Sign up to YouTube, Instagram or LinkedIn for that matter and begin uploading your posts. However, there are still a few things to consider if you want to take things to the next level – namely lighting and sound quality – these are crucial for a more “PRO” feel.

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Lights, camera (or phone), ACTION

You don’t have to have any professional equipment here. Recording at daytime means you can use the sunlight through a window, just don’t position yourself between the window and the camera as this will create bad silhouettes. Instead, aim to position the camera between you and the window. If it’s a really bright day you might need to use a bedsheet, curtains or blinds to diffuse the light. You should be aiming for a soft, even light on your face. For a more dynamic look you could turn so that the camera is slightly to one side of the window, so the sunlight casts gentle shadows on one side of the face (again avoid complete darkness).

One last point is to make your background look good too. You can place little torches and regular old house lamps to shine off items/walls in the background to add depth and make the background look more interesting. Filming against a white background is very Apple circa 2002, plus if you’re filming a day-to-day vlog then it’ll add that extra touch as things change in the background between videos.

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Check, check, 1, 2…

Ok, decent audio and sound quality are a little harder to achieve at home without equipment but there are ways to use your phone to get better quality. The correct way would be to have a microphone attached to your camera pointing directly to your mouth or chest (where the sound is loudest), a tall order for a lot of people. So, you will mainly want to aim at getting background noise down to nothing, so that the phone can record your voice as clearly as possible.

If you’re recording with a separate camera you could use your phone to record the sound and synchronise it with the camera footage later when you edit (however, I appreciate this is a more complicated method). It can be done by placing the phone just out of shot, but as close to you as possible using a voice recorder app to achieve clearer results – in fact the same could work using a phone and a tablet. The closer you position the mic, recorder or device to your mouth, the better!

The cutting room floor

Planning your video and rehearsing so you can do videos in one go would be the dream, but there are few of us that can be that flawless. So you will need to do some level of editing. My advice is to use the K.I.S.S. method “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Don’t try to over complicate things with special effects and whizzy titles until you are comfortable with basic editing.

The most popular type of edit on social platforms is the “jump cut”. That is literally cutting where you mess up and then starting the next clip where you make the next good point. The version of you on screen jumps during the cut (hence the name), but it is a very easy and acceptable way to get videos edited.

Editing software can be complicated to use, but free versions can be quick and easier to master. Windows Movie Maker, iMovie on Mac or iOS are generally drag and drop tools, so can be grasped pretty fast. There are paid versions such as Adobe Rush which are a middle ground between pro and basic. You will be able to add music, titles and images using most of these apps too. So experiment, but keep it simple – at least to begin with.

That’s a wrap

You’re ready to upload your video!

Obviously, there are so many variables to film making – from the equipment you own, to how far you want to take things. Embrace the K.I.S.S. method, don’t over think it and of course there are plenty of videos out there on YouTube already that cover editing basics, lighting, etc. So support other creators and pay it forward 🙂

Now, get out there and get creating!

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