On talking to a video camera (it’s a learning curve)

Mac and video recording kit

Where I’ve been working today – in the chaos of the homestead.

Today, after a super inspiring session Skype interview with the lovely Jennifer D Begg (who filmed herself while Skyping me) I did a ‘put myself in front of the camera and talk’ thing.

Oh, and it was very uncomfortable. The face for radio doesn’t help but I came across lots of hurdles. You’ll find the video I’m referring to here and below is what I learned along the way. So you can learn too.

Positioning: what’s behind you when you press record?

When I first set up, behind me were two kids’ bibs, some empty wine bottles and a pile of washing up. Not very professional. So I positioned my screen and myself to give a nice clean background (the white space also allows for room to put subtitles, graphics etc in later if I so desired). If I was doing a video chat on the perils of being a parent, however, I would have left the bibs and washing up in. Make your background appropriate to your content.

Nice and bright is best

With this said and done, I looked a bit dark on screen. So I flicked on the lights and brightened myself up with tonnes of eye bag cream to hide the dark circles and some red lippy. Bright colours always work well on camera so if you can wear something bright it’ll make a difference.

Dry mouth? Pass the water

That lip smacking sound you can hear? The really irritating one? My mouth was dry and a glass of water would have sorted it right out. Or possibly some editing. Always play your recordings back to make sure you’re happy – unexpected noises can sneak their way in without you realising.

Scripted: Remembering what to say

It’s hard to read a script and look at the camera at the same time and eyes darting all over the shop probably isn’t the effect you’re aiming for. So, I popped my script on an online posr it note at the top of my screen (as close to the camera as possible) and attempted to scroll my way through it. A few attempts later and I felt comfortable with what I was saying, but… it was a bit formal.

Trying something different

I then thought I’d take my own advice – this is something I always say when interviewing other people: “If you fluff a  line, don’t panic and stop, just take a breath, correct yourself and keep going.” This is important if you want a single batch of video footage (easier for editing, rather than slotting two together) and sometimes, the odd slur keeps it real (again, this depends on your content and audience).

In this video I decided to be more informal and explain how hard it is to record yourself before launching into my script and be honest about my flickery eye movements and pauses to scroll. I also stumble on my words, but I just keep going. This is what makes me a real person, unpolished, imperfect and me. Once again, it depends on audience but sometimes the off hiccup gives a video authenticity and that ‘in the moment’ feel.

Cutting corners: to edit or not to edit

This one-take wonder, errors and all, reduces the need for editing. Some vids will always need some editing but some don’t. And when time is short, cut corners and get on with it. All I did for this one is add a crossfade at the start and end and change the thumbnail (the images that displays when you first see the video) to one where my mouth wasn’t hanging open. Not only did I cerate the video I was asked to as part of an MA assignment, I’ve also learned something and turned it into a blog post. Win win.

And there you have it. The best way to create good videos is to practice, over and over. We will all make mistakes and that’s part of the learning curve so don’t be afraid to experiment and play them back – no one need ever see then!

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