“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” – James Bryant Conant
The experts among us say the next big thing for blogging is video. We all know that video blogging (vlogging) has been around forever. It has been the domain of the adventurous, those involved in action (dance, athletics, and such), and fixed-frame recipe experts. In other words, it’s a great place to stick our necks out.
Well, those days are over, a successful blogger, we are warned, will be doing video.
The basic rules we have learned remain:
- make useful, quality content
- make it clear and compelling
- make it fresh and original.
But instead of text or graphics, we now make it with video.
We will consider some basic points which will guide you gently and painlessly into this new phase of digital communication. Along the way we will consider pitfalls and trip-wires that might interfere with our progress.
- Use video to replace or reinforce our existing content. (we are not likely jumping headlong into a total video environment). Instead, we’ll most likely use it to supplement and illustrate points that just don’t lend themselves to traditional tools. So, most will be be adding video to their array of tools to convey information; but not leaving those familiar components.
- Don’t break the bank. Most likely, we will be able to use things already in our possession for our work.
- For cameras, most modern cell phones are capable of producing video suitable for our blogs.
- Fancy lights can wait while we learn to use natural light and other sources already in place. (You are not going to take a light system to a sporting event, for example).
- Video editing sounds ominous. However, you already know how to edit content. You can arrange graphics and set their sizes and orientation; you can craft your prose to change the mood, reflect a position or adapt to a new audience. Video editing involves the same concepts, just with a few new tools. (I was taught to crop and edit in the camera). Indeed, thoughtful planning can sometimes reduce the editing process, if not eliminating it entirely.
- There is an array of free editing software available which is more than adequate for a starting point.
Where to store video
- While you can tuck a tiny video clip or two, onto your existing website, and probably get by, but that is not the best choice.
- Anything in the modest to large size range is another matter. Your web hosting capacity will quickly max out if you try storing a video library on it.
- Further, and worse, typical size video files stored on your website will cripple your page load times.
- Fortunately, there are alternatives for video file storage. You probably are thinking of YouTube, the repository of a large portion of the video produced on the planet. Well, we will find that this is not a great choice for us.
- Commercials abound.
- Once we link out to YouTube, our viewers might well view our offering, but
- They will be surrounded by other material
- Regardless, they are beyond our reach and will probably not find their way back to us.
- Numerous free options (always check for current terms and limits)
- And more
- Many paid options
- Brightcove at $199/mo
- Vidyard at $1,250/mo
- Others pop up all the time
- Video does involve a new set of skills. While most of us have probably created clips at family, school, and business events. There are several reasons, these will
Know the gear
Know your equipment. Be prepared to face an array of choices when you delve into video. First, and quickest, there’s your smart-phone. It has a camera and the odds are a million to one that it will have a video capacity. Check it out, you might not have to look further. (Need an assist, send us the name and model of your phone, and we’ll do a quick check of its specs and send you a rundown about the pros and cons of video work with it.
Moving into the market, many modern digital cameras have video capacity along with their standard still photo features. Lots of vlogging is done with these multi-function units and their outputs of some of these can be on par with anything else on the market.
In recent years, the action camera (think GoPro) has made a splash in the world of videography. “Action” is the operative word. These diminutive devices make amazing videos of skydiving, scuba, skateboarding, and virtually anything else that involves lots of movement and action. But, they also lend themselves to service in more sedate ventures and can offer options for vlogging.
Lastly, you might choose a dedicated video camera. This branch of the modern photography market has been eclipsed by other devices. But, in my opinion these devices (still called camcorders) are the best choice for video. That was their sole purpose for decades. The rich heritage is still there and many of us find these to be the natural choice. Fortunately the prices for the sorts of cameras we need have plummeted. But if you still demand the absolute best, there is professional equipment that runs into six figures.
Learn the video camera
Use it, handle it, talk to it, learn its tricks and secrets. Do not try to learn camera operation on the fly while trying to create content. (You do not learn to drive by getting under the wheel of a high performance car in the Indy 500.)
- Play with it; get with a friend or a cooperative kid or other willing subject and learn.
- Once the camera makes sense, continue your education by recording actual footage.
- Then you can get to work on learning to edit.
- Remember, there are people who earn their livings running cameras and others whose income comes from editing video media.
- These things involve art and science. You should be able to discover enough for your own needs in a relatively short time.
While recording moving images is a world unto itself, we can’t forget its twin sister, Audio. Every point raised about the technology and considerations of video apply here. Every modern video camera you will encounter will have an audio recording capability. Sadly, nearly every modern video camera’s weakest part is its audio recording feature.
- Images carried by light can travel millions of miles and still be seen. Sadly, sound intensity diminishes by the inverse square rule (don’t worry, just understand it’s bad).
- Every kind of noise imaginable can mess with our recording of voices, music, birdies, and all. I mean every kind of racket will turn up:
- First, the microphone has no idea of what you want to hear, so its natural choice is to record everything
- Wind blowing across the microphone makes a roar.
- Traffic noise (filtered out by our brains) comes through
- In hand-held situations, coats and gloves rubbing on the camera can make indescribable sounds (and they are not pleasant)
- Likewise, if we are walking or running, the ‘thump-thump’ noise is unwelcome.
- Moving parts in the camera (especially auto-focus mechanisms) can drive one mad
- A hint, in my estimation, audio can be a bigger pain than video, and requires a whole additional layer of technology (software and hardware).
- I suggest, whenever possible, work the video, then do voice-overs in the controlled environments of post production.
Enjoy the fun
The good part: video is exciting, challenging, educational; but most of all, it is fun. It adds a whole new dimension to our creativity, quality and value. It can really enhance our work and increase our audience. It is really worth pursuing.
Best of all, people like it — up to a point. If the images and sounds are distorted, blurry, unattractive, that is: low quality, it is a major turn-off. If the clip takes forever to load, the viewers won’t wait around. They have no appreciation of the problems with getting a heavy video file into their browser.
Or audience consists of consumers. They are accustomed to switching on a television and having its content there instantly. Likewise they expect quick loading, responsive and delay-free content on their devices. None of them are going to stay around to see what eventually happens on their inactive screen; there are just too many more attractive things to look at.
Quality content, useful content (don’t show a 5 minute clip of a beautiful sunset, unless that is what you have offered and someone wants to see). Video descends from what used to be called ‘motion pictures’. People expect, no, they demand motion, action, activity. If the image is static or still, we have a tool for that, it’s called graphics or photos.
Do you plan to get move into video production? Would you like to share your experiences and get regular tips and ideas? How about having an unbiased friend to ask questions? If any of your answers are yes, join our newsletter or leave a comment.
We’ll be seeing you soon.