Over the last 18months I’ve been contemplating vlogging but due to a 9-5 office job and responsibilities I just haven’t got round to starting, it’s another “WANT TO DO” mixed in with the pile of “NEED TO DO”. I still want to start and am hopefully gearing up to start sooner rather than later, I have maybe 20 practise vlogs sitting on my hard-drive that will never see the light of day.
With this post I want to share some of the tips that I’ve learned while shooting practice vlogs, picked up from watching other people and just general videography tips.
N.B I’ve wrote before about gear not mattering BUT there is some gear I advise below that will make things a lot easier for you when trying to vlog.
STABILISE YOUR FOOTAGE AS BEST AS POSSIBLE – Invest in a tripod for shooting indoors or heck place your camera on a bag of rice or something to stabilise the camera. For outdoor handheld shooting vlog style the default purchase would be a Joby Gorillapod (see the main image) nearly every vlogger on the planet now uses these as the legs can be bend and shaped into a selfie stick shape but it also works as a traditional tripod/or you can wrap it round things to get more creative.
GET A DECENT WIDE ANGLE LENS – When vlogging you are the subject but you also want to show off some of the background to add context and location to where you are. But also think how annoying it would be to watch 10mins of a close up on your face. The low end of a kit lens is enough to get you started but look at getting a lens with a focal length less than 20mm (full frame equivalent) to really show off your surroundings. If on a budget you can buy cheaper lens adapters that reduce the focal length that screw into the filter thread of your lens. If you just have your phone the front facing camera on most smartphones these days is wide enough when on a gorillapod/selfie stick to vlog with.
GET SPARE BATTERIES AND SD CARDS – A vlog is a document of your day, so you’ll be constantly shooting and camera will be on a lot of the day, make sure you have charged spares and enough SD cards that you’ll never miss a moment. Nothing worse than the camera dying on your way to a big event or you bump into that local celebrity.
SHOOT MORE, EDIT INTO A STORY – In a vlog you can never have too much footage. Yes a video may only run 10mins but the key is to find a central story to your day. Everything else you can creatively use to add depth to the visuals, make timelapses, make cuts to the music beat. Also when shooting make sure you think about what you’re shooting too, talking about grabbing a coffee? get some footage of it being made and drunk, it all adds up to add more depth and context completing the story.
DON’T JUMP CUT EVERYTHING – Use your creativity when editing to improve the video, dont just cut on every beat or when you stop talking. A prime example of this is when Casey Neistat cuts to a different location in the middle of a sentence and finishes it in the new location. It help keeps the movement flowing and viewers engaged. Get creative to keep things interesting.
TALK TO THE CAMERA LIKE A FRIEND – It’s one of the most daunting and awkward thoughts to film yourself holding a camera aloft at your face at the end of a stick BUT it does get easier with practice, especially now vlogging is getting so big and more widely known rather than just internet circles. Yes you may get the odd look but own it, keep going and if things get too awkward you can always just stop recording and try somewhere else. But when talking to the camera learn how to look at the lens and not around it or focusing all your attention on the screen (if you have a tilty swivel screen) practice at home or talk to a mirror to help with eye contact and chat as if talking to a friend, be friendly and talk about what interests you with passion.
BE YOURSELF – It’s your vlog do what you want with it, most people watch for the personality of the vlogger and travel videos aside the visuals don’t really matter. You may get comments or disagreement but take it on the chin and keep churning out your videos. Soon enough you’ll find your own audience (we don’t all sign up to the over the top youtubers out there, so don’t force or fake it if this isn’t you) and once you get a community you know they’re watching for you and your personality.
These were just a few tips and insights that I think will help improve your vlog and it’s definitely advice I’ll be using when I start mine. But I’d love to hear in the comments if you already vlog, thinking about it or even watch them? And do you have any more tips that I may have missed?