There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I was afraid of video. I have some very good friends who made it look so easy (I’m looking at you, Brian Copeland and Dale Chumbley), and I thought I would rather refrain from doing video altogether than put out videos that couldn’t match up to theirs in quality and scope. Plus, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing.
And then I got an iPhone4.
If you do not have an iPhone 4 (or 4S) and do not plan on getting one, then I apologize – this article is not for you. Though I own a Flip Camera and a Kodak zi8, they’ve never made it out of their boxes. With my iPhone4, I broke out of my shell and started creating videos.
If you do have an iPhone4 or 4S or are getting one soon, then let’s get you started on your path to YouTube stardom…or at least on the path of no longer being afraid of creating video.
Getting comfortable with your iPhone as video camera. Open up the camera on your iPhone and switch it to video mode. Then change the view so that you can see yourself on the screen (this may take a little getting used to!) – this will help you tremendously with lining up your shot and making sure you’re in the frame. (Also, I love that I can shoot videos when I’m alone – it takes away a lot of the stage fright, not having anyone else around!)
Seeing yourself in the screen will also help you to judge the quality of the lighting – if it doesn’t look good to you in the shot, it won’t magically look an better later to a viewer. Try different angles to get the right light for each shot.
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Play with the phone inside and outside – learn how changing the angle ever so slightly can result in a better shot: more flattering lighting, making you and what you’re shooting look better.
Scripts and storyboards. While I usually shoot my videos straight off the top of my head and make it up as I go along, this probably won’t work for everyone. If you’re a visual person, you may want to write out a brief script or sketch out a short storyboard before shooting your video. If you’re an auditory person, repeating what you want to say a few times before the camera is on might help. It’s as simple as finding a process that works for you – you may want to make bullet points of the main topics you want to touch on, or perhaps write out what you want to say and post it to a wall or whiteboard opposite from where you are shooting.
You may also want to shoot a couple of practice shots to get comfortable with knowing the camera is rolling and seeing that red light on – and also to get used to seeing your reflection in the camera! Who knows? One of those practice shots may end up being a keeper! Don’t be afraid to mess up – you can always stop the camera and start over. Refrain from deleting every “bad” shot, though – you may be able to salvage some of what you liked from each shot in the editing process.
Short segments. Plan your video in short segments. For me, when I am shooting for a local Atlanta venue or event, I have a formula in mind:
I start with an introduction, and it always starts the same way: My logo fades into a title screen and then into an opening shot of me introducing the clip: “Hey there, this is Maura Neill with 365Atlanta.com and today I’m…”
Most of the body of the video is footage of the event – whether in still photos or in video – with me narrating in the form of a voiceover. I edit together a collection of still photos and short videos to create the main section of the video.
The conclusion of my videos is also consistent: I briefly wrap up what the video has highlighted and then I say, “And of course, for great things to do all around the Atlanta area, visit 365Atlanta.com. See you there!”
Consistency is not only helpful to you, for planning purposes, but also to your viewer: setting up each video with a consistent beginning and ending can help to brand your videos, so that the viewer always knows it’s you and always knows what to expect, especially if you’re shooting a series of related videos.
Shoot in short segments that you can edit together later. For example, if you’re shooting a video about 5 tips to help you sell your home, shoot each tip as a separate segment, perhaps using a different backdrop or location for each one, and then edit them together to create a final product. Or if you’re making a video about an event or an exhibit in your town, shoot eight to ten short segments (under 20 seconds each) of specific parts of the event, include short interviews with the hosts or other spectators, footage of what an attendee will see themselves when they go, etc.