Does anyone remember having to go to the library and actually look up information in an encyclopedia? I know right...what's a library? Cut to its thankfully 2015 about to be 16 and there is this awesome resource of endless information known as YouTube, duh! I love YT because it has given ordinary people with a camera and some time, the ability to share their gifts with the world (for some, the word "gift" is arbitrary, but I digress). I've learned to do a lot on YT...cook some amazing recipes, apply the perfect false lash, grow corn, DIY Christmas ornaments, and unclog a toilet without a plunger (seriously pour in hot water and a ton of dish soap, leave it an hour, and flush-amazing!). However, all is not well in internet land because as with practically anything, there is the good, the bad, and the darn right ugly of YT video production. Now obviously if you are a YT'er who is well funded, well-advertised, you've got a company or four behind you, odds are, you have your s__t together, but for those either trying to get a foot into the market or just plain cuh-huh-loo-less, I've got some advice which we'll just say is brought to you by your good friend, Captain Obvious!
1. Step one: Know what the hell you're talking about
If you are going to explain to me how to make a pesto and you hold up the parsley and call it cilantro seven times, there's a problem. Sure we all flub and make mistakes, but that's why you practice ahead of time, know your ingredients in this case, and don't get pissed when the subsequent 100 people call you out for not knowing what a basic ingredient is...in a video where you've said you've made this dish thousands of times, but yet you've never learned the difference between parsley and cilantro...
2. Find the balance
Why are you talking to me from what looks like the dungeon you've apparently been held captive in for the last six months? It amazes me that someone will make a 15 minute make-up tutorial and start off by saying, I know its dark in here and you may not be able to see the details of what I'm doing. Wait. What? Yeah, that's how I get ready in the morning, in pitch blackness. Both photography and videography both rely on good lighting. Go find that magical sweet spot in your house or wherever and only shoot there, because that is where we can see you. Oh and especially if you're doing make-up tutorials and showing us a steaming hot plate of food based goodness, make sure you don't have light that's really blue or yellow because it doesn't show off make-up or food well.
3. It's like watching paint dry
Yes, 36 minutes of you trying to explain paint drying. Try to keep your vids short and sweet. YT is practically based on the premise that we have really short attention spans (squirrel!!!) and unless something is really complicated to learn like say building a house from scratch, your videos don't need to be longer then say 10 or so minutes to get to a point. If you can't seem to cut down on the length, make parts one and two. It's when you start going off on a tangent about cleaning the house, and its raining, or the phone is ringing and go all off topic, that we all collectively go off to find someone else who can better explain things. Save the entire extra for your vlog and stay on topic. If we're learning how to properly change a tire, I don't need to know your kid got his shots today which is why he's crying hysterically in the background.
4. Annnnd speaking of crying...turn everything off and send everyone away.
I hear this far too often...sorry guys my baby is crying or sorry the dog just won't stop barking. Put the dog in the yard, wait until the baby is down for a nap, film at night when most things are sleeping or quiet, or send both of the dog and the baby with a friend or family member while you make your video. I've seen some really bad videos where the person will get up 12 times to go tend to something distracting. Can you just imagine being in a classroom and the teacher kept having to leave in the middle of trying to teach you Calculus? Why is this okay for you trying to teach YT viewers something?
5. The Blur, decent band, but absolute enemy of your videos.
I thought this too would be common sense, but so so soooo many videos are just blurry and out of focus. Cameras have come a long way but they are not the human eye which has the amazing ability to focus on things and adjust quickly. You see it all the time where the person will move from the back to some place closer to the camera and then everything is blurry for the next 5 minutes...and then they realize this and instead of re-shoot, they put it on YT. OMG, why?!? You have eyes, they see the same thing we're seeing, right? How is this helpful that we can't see what you're doing?
6. Annoying music is annoying
It's fine if you have a little music in the intro or at the end, but blaring music where we can't hear what you're saying or music that is frankly has nothing to do with what you're explaining or has an opposite vibe to what you're doing, is not very helpful, and yet another distraction of making a good video.
7. Charge your freakin' battery!
Are we still talking common sense here? The video will be like, so here it is the last step in learning how to safely stop your baby from choking (cut). Oh yeah, sorry guys the battery died, but the baby is safe, thanks for watching my video. Uggggghhhhh, are you serious right now?! Charge your battery or better yet batteries before you make a video. We're viewing the instructional video because well, we need friggin' instructions, so when you just come back and we don’t' know what happened, it’s useless.
8. Make sure we can actually see what it is you're doing
I saw a hair video where the lady sat like 20 feet away from the camera and tried to explain how to do an intricate braid in the hair. I couldn't see a thing from that distance, and then, at the end, she showed the final hairdo up close. Um, I could have gone to Pinterest and just looked up a picture, but I came here for, oh, never mind. Sigh....
9. Make sure your titles are correctly spelled
I know having just written this there are probably some (read: a lot) of mistakes, but making a YT video is a bit different because (you hope) your video will be seen a hundred plus times over and just like knowing what the heck you're talking about, people WILL judge you for your spelling and grammar mistakes, frankly, as they should because persumably you sat down somewhere and edited the thing. Get someone to help you check your editing, make sure names and titles of people and products are spelled correctly, practice with someone first if English or whatever language you're speaking in is not your first language. You want a good video which can stand the test of time, not one someone is going to mock you over or go all grammar Nazi on you because you have about 10 easy mistakes in your video.
Oh and for all of you with OCD, I was going to stop at number 9, but I couldn't so...