It’s Not Just a Video Anymore

Making videos for tutorials and bios, QR codes and podcasts has become so easy and affordable that it seems like everyone’s doing it. You know how it is: if you’re *not* doing it, people keep urging you to jump in and do it. And why not? Once you have a video camera–and chances are your smartphone has one already–it doesn’t cost you anything to make a video and upload it to YouTube, along with that site’s gazillions of videos (I tried to find out how many there are with no luck. “A Bunch” is, I think, the official answer). From there, you can embed the video on your blog or website, make a QR code for it, show it on your television screen, send it to everyone you know. Easy and cheap, so what’s not to love, right?

But it can be oh, so much more. Kelly Rae Roberts tweeted a link to this video weeks ago, and I was entranced. As were millions of other people, as you can tell. What’s magical about this video by Wendy Nguyen, of Wendy’s Lookbook, is that it provides useful information (I have really fallen in love with The Braid) in a really cool way. Check it out:

What keeps me–and, I suspect, lots and lots of other people–watching it over and over is trying to figure out how it was created. Twenty-five videos, made individually, timed and choreographed so carefully that it’s hard to believe it’s not actually a group of 25 identical people, rather than just one. (Wendy explains the painstaking process of creating this here.)  And that’s what’s so fabulous: while videos have become so common as to have lost much of their initial cool, well-done imaginative videos are always going to grab us and keep us coming back to watch them again.

When you’re planning your videos, think about that. You sitting in front of the camera talking is OK, but it’s not going to be something that people watch over and over and send to all their friends. If the video is of your hands demonstrating a technique, how can you make it something more? Speed up the repetitive parts? Add music (but not loud music)? Slow down the parts where people really need to be able to see what you’re doing? Think about ways to make your video a joy to watch, rather than a chore required for getting information.

Other things to think about:

~~Lighting is key. Notice how easy it is to see Wendy. Think about all the dark, grainy, yellowish videos you’ve watched on YouTube.

~~Use a tripod for your camera. Keeping things steady makes your video easier to watch.

~~Edit the audio. Good music, carefully used, can do wonders for a video. Loud jarring music and distracting background noise (dogs, traffic, screaming kids) can drive viewers away

~~How can you minimize the tedious parts and highlight the exciting parts? Speed, yes. But a simple editing program will allow you to cut out unimportant transitions and slow down and focus on the parts you want people to see really well.

~~Subtitles and text, used sparingly, can help you. Don’t, on the other hand, expect people to read lines and lines of moving text. They may be watching this on their smartphone at the coffee shop, and tons of tiny text isn’t going to endear you to your viewer.

Think about it. A video doesn’t have to be just a video any more, and while you may not have a choreographer or a production assistant, you do have imagination and ideas. Plus you’ve got that little video camera, so what’s holding you back? It’s not like it’s going to cost you anything to have your film processed~~so go! Have fun~~


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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