The days of homemade cat videos and laughing babies biting each other’s fingers are slowing dwindling on YouTube. We are increasingly seeing a rise in the quality of videos from online content creators. Better cameras, better audio, overall we are witnessing an upwards trend towards high production content. Although the population of internet users rooting for the new media community have increased, the masses still have yet to fully welcome new media entertainment with open arms. Not to worry though! There’s no doubt in my mind that online video will soon become a cultural norm like television. For this day to arrive sooner we must train our eyes to be more critical of video production as a collective.
Here are a few things to consider before publishing your next video:
1. Once upon a time …there was no story line.
A lot of us probably started creating videos by pressing a button on a camera and making things up as we go along. The next step to taking your videos to the next level is starting with pre-production and having a plan of attack. Start off by writing a draft of your video, then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! Once you have clear script in hand, get together all the other elements you’ll need – such as a shot list, props, wardrobe, makeup..etc. – and get ready to film and make every frame count.
2. Do I have the complexion of Roald Dahl’s oompa loompas?
When you’re filming on your fancy DSLR, the camera is making the image by taking in light and recording it as data. Light is made up of a spectrum of different wavelengths, which are perceived as different colors. Because cameras don’t see the world in the way the human eye does, it will read the different wavelengths of light and try to balance it. This could turn our favorite YouTubers into walking carrots or, depending on the color temperature of the light source, into a green broccoli or purple plum. Next time you’re shooting, do yourself a favor by white balancing in camera, then color correcting in post.
3. Is there an earthquake? Why is the picture so shaky?
Yes, as up-and-coming artists, we’re completely broke and can’t afford fancy gear like Mr. Joss Whedon and his Avengers crew (above.), however a handheld shaky frame not only feeds trolls the idea that YouTube videos are amateur, but is also distracting to the action presently on screen. Unless you’re trying to imply camera motion (which should also be executed in a smooth manner), there’s no reason for a still frame to shake like a Polaroid picture. Simple tips like using a tripod or finding friend who knows how to run with a camera – like Brandon from freddiew – will keep your viewers from clicking away.
And if you can’t budget a tripod, a nice stack of books will work just as well.
4. Do I need lasik? Why is everything so blurry?
If you want to keep viewers actively engaged, try to keep yourself in focus, especially when the content of the shot demands the audience’s attention to be centered on you. Otherwise, they might as well be listening to a rapping Bugatti, right Diddy?
5. Eww why does the camera not like me?
You know how they say the camera adds 10 pounds? Well, they’re right. When you’re setting up your shot, you should know your angles and know your gear. When viewers are checking out your videos, they have to remain fixated on your face. The wrong lighting, angles, and lens will distort you and turn you into an unflattering mess.
For example shooting Adele (who is a lovely woman, but not a skinny, walking twig) from below eye level will accentuate her double chin and give us the best upward view of her nostrils. Shooting her at eye level let’s us focus on her as an individual and not her size.
It’s also not a bad idea to make sure you’re camera-ready before jumping in front of the lens. Nowadays with everything steaming HD video at 1080p, a close-up shot of an untimely face full of acne might not be the best impression you’d want to leave your audience with.
6. The awkward moment watching wet paint dry is more fun than watching 10 seconds of a 2 minute video.
Make every second count! As we continue to grow as a community, increasing numbers of story-driven sketch videos are popping up left and right. If you’re going to release a 5+ minute video, please be sure to have a decent shot list and additional b-roll to cut to. Watching talking heads over a period of time becomes rather boring, especially when nothing dynamic is happening in frame to give an artistic feel or add to the story.
If you’re from my generation, do you remember all the random babbling from the DragonBall Z series and how much you wanted to fast forward to the fighting ?
7. Where did the background go?
Now before you run off again to make your next viral hit, keep in mind the time of day and the position of the sun. I can guarantee that the quickest way to create an unflattering, squinty-eyed, drenched-in-sweat look is to shoot at high noon. The glorious high sun will create harsh shadows, giving you a 16×9 wide vision and completely blow out all of the highlights in your footage. If you can, try to plan your next shoot when the sun is low or when the forecast is cloudy and overcast. The gloomy clouds will act as a big softbox in the sky, and as a result give you much more even light and a less amateur look.