Smile for the Camcorder. Or At Least Say “Hi”

In my work, I check out kind of a lot of videos. While I’m not much on sitting in front of the computer (or sitting with my iPhone clutched in my hand) to watch random stuff on YouTube or Vimeo, I do check out potential artists and podcast guests to see what kind of videos they’ve done. Many of these are fabulous; some are even professionally created. Others are obviously amateur but are still get the information to the viewer. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that lots of people seem to want to remove themselves as far as possible when making video tutorials. Few show their faces, which I can understand: a lot of people hate to be photographed, let alone be recorded on video. Sitting and talking to the camera would be worse torture for them than a dozen root canals. It would be nice to at least see one shot of the artist/teacher, though. I have no memory at all for names, but sometimes if I have a name *and* see a face, I’ll go, “Oh, yeah! I met her in Seattle!” or wherever. Some people are fine with sitting in front of the camera and talking, and others show just their hands, demonstrating and narrating whatever technique they’re sharing.


Lately, though, I’ve noticed rather a lot of tutorial videos that have just music, with no voice and maybe not even any printed text. It’s just a video of their hands doing something. In some cases, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on. They take it slowly, and they hold up the supplies in front of the camera so you can see what’s what. But there are places in all these videos where you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing. Did she blend that with a dry paper towel, or was it wet? Did she spritz the page with water, or was that glimmer mist? How long did it dry between those two segments? Why was that part taped off, and what did she use right before she applied the chalk? Even when someone narrates their tutorial, you’ll probably still have questions, but at least most of the steps will be explained. When all we’ve got is your disembodied hands doing something on a canvas or journal page, though, we can’t ever be sure we know exactly what’s going on.


And please, don’t even get me started on the music. If you must have background music, please make sure it’s just that: *background* music. If it’s loud and overwhelming, there are a lot of us who are going to click away–while the music you love may be universally loved by your friends and by the students in your workshops, other people may not be quite so enamored. Sure, we can adjust the volume, but guess what? We may so dislike being bombarded by music just on general principles that we don’t even bother. (I personally have just such a thang and will flee any blog that has auto-play music, even music I might otherwise enjoy.)


So, a few suggestions for those video tutorials:

~~Let us see you, at least in a still shot at the beginning, so we know who you are

~~Ditch the music and, instead, narrate what you’re doing. You don’t have to have a Perfect Radio Announcer’s Voice, and you don’t have to read from a script. We don’t care–we just want you to lead us through the process and explain it as you go along. Informal is good!

~~Take your time, hold up the products so we can see them, explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Talk to us as if we’re sitting beside you, asking questions and learning your techniques.

~~Relax and have fun with it. We don’t expect you to be a polished professional; we just want to be able to follow your tutorial and enjoy your process without getting confused.

Picture 4For more tips about living and working as a professional artist, check out The Successful Artist’s Career Guide: Finding Your Way in the Business of Art by Margaret Peot.



Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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