For the last while I have talked about utilising Youtube and video more in my work , I’ve always had an interest in shooting small videos from family events to days out. While they’re a nice keepsake for the day I WANT to create better content and tell more of a narrative story on a range of subjects. So as it’s the New Year and I have a renewed vigour I’ve been researching and reading up on improving cinematography values and becoming a better video maker.
I want to condense some of the most important things (in my opinion) that any one starting a Youtube channel or looking to improve their videos can do. It may be small steps and I’ll try and break the information down like an ExplainLikeImFive reddit post but I’ve started using some of these tips in a few videos and the results are impressive (keep an eye on my Youtube for new videos)
These are in no order but I will embolden items that I think deserve special mention, so here goes:
- GEAR doesn’t matter: Yes a £5k will produce better resolution and a better picture BUT in the narrative video this doesn’t matter as the composition, writing and atmosphere of the video is more important than the crispest video. Citizen Kane is widely regarded as one of the best movies ever created and we have better cameras on our smartphones now. Use the camera you have and LEARN it.
- STORY is king: As a follow up to the above, you can shoot on a crappy smartphone from 2000 but if the story holds up and is well made, people will watch it and engage with it. Yes a high end DSLR movie MAY look better but if the story isn’t engaging we won’t watch.
- LEARN your gear before buying: Use whatever gear you already have and LEARN how it works, shoot stuff, work on composition and learn the limitations of your gear fully. 9 times out of 10 you won’t need that £2k lens that has wonderful bokeh, use the kit lens or smartphone until it comes to a time that you KNOW you NEED bokeh to improve a shot not just because it looks a bit cooler.
- INVEST in audio: Slight contradiction to 3 but audio is the area you should be upgrading before visuals. Bad audio can ruin a well shot video and great audio can save a badly shot video. DSLR cameras on board mics are notoriously bad with bad pre-amps and even smartphones are limited to the range. So invest in some better audio. If you have a DSLR use your smartphone and their headphones (built in mic for phonecalls) and use it as a make-shift lapel mic. Or if you run and gun pick up a shotgun mic for your camera, I use a VideoMic GO and highly recommend it for the price and improved audio it gives.
- EDIT, EDIT, EDIT: Practice makes perfect and this is especially the case with videomaking/editing, shoot as much as you can, anything from friends chatting to birds flying to cars passing on the street, just shoot stuff then load it into your editor (DaVinci Resolve is free and is a decent editor with an excellent color grader **it can be a bit intensive on older machines though, or heck even using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to learn the basics) learn the timing, composition and all the tools, cutting at the best time and applying transitions, keep shooting and editing you’ll find your own style. You don’t need to post these just arm yourself with as much practice ammo before you shoot a video for real.
- SUBTLY post produce: As a final point once you have learnt your editor and cut the video down to the ideal length you can then focus on post production, from color correction and grading to effects and transitions. Most people start this off very heavy handed, boosting contrasts and making grading too noticeable, start small and subtle. Pick one attribute and nudge the sliders up instead of hitting the limits and color grade realistically to begin with (if you want a neon drenched Blade Runner vibe don’t listen)
So there are just a few quick tips that I’ve picked up from my research and they have already helped improve my videos exponentially. If you want more info or want to find more indepth tutorials, the wonderful community at REDDIT FILMMAKERS and REDDIT VIDEOEDITING are great at answer questions or providing information.
Hopefully this post helps you out in your journey to starting video. Drop me a comment below if you liked it or is there anything I’m missing out? Also let me know if you produce content already and leave your link in the comment too, I’ll check them out