I’ve been experimenting with making and editing video lately. I’m not doing it for my jollies or because I think I’m damned good looking (which I am). It’s because WE (humanity) have demonstrated loud and clear that we want to CONSUME video. We prefer it to text. And if that’s true, and you and I are in the business of communicating, we’re going to have to make video. Oh, and it’ll have to be good.
But What Do People Want?
People consume over 1 billion hours of YouTube video every day. You might not be part of that stat YET, but it’s because you haven’t gone looking for videos that cover topics you’d actually want to watch yet. My mom and dad really like poker. So I went to YouTube and typed in “Texas Holdem Tips” and got a few million results (like this one). Maybe you’re an aspiring author but don’t have the time to write a book. I found this video about how to write a book in 24 hours. (Sounds dubious to me as an author, but I didn’t watch the video.)
People want videos that entertain and educate them. My children learn primarily through video. If we’re talking about The Battle of Verdun, my daughter will gladly watch this over reading a text book. And she’ll come away with all the salient points.
People want videos that are the right length for the topic. Not too long if it’s not necessary, and not too brief if it’s too complicated to stuff into two minutes. There’s NO reason that TV shows are 30 minutes (actually 22) and 1 hour (actually 44 minutes). That’s just a construct. YOUR channel can host 3 minute, 12 minute, 7 hour, and whatever other times make sense for the subject matter.
People want personality. One huge shift in experience since the start of the YouTube revolution several years ago is that we want people to have a personality. There’s a reason why love Gary Vaynerchuk and iJustine and Graveyard Girl and Casey Neistat and all these other personalities. It’s because they connect with us in a more direct way. We feel like they’re talking with us. We do if we’re lucky and the creator knows and values the power of a personal connection.
It’s Not Really About the Gear
But you’re worried. What does it take? Let’s start with what you don’t need:
- You don’t need an expensive camera. Your smartphone is a good start. Or your laptop lid. (To START.)
- You don’t need fancy editing software. You can start with iMovie on a Mac or Windows Media Maker on PC.
- You don’t need expensive lighting to start. I started with lights from Ikea. My most expensive light now is only $100.
- You don’t need fancy hosting. YouTube works fine.
And let’s say you get really excited about it. You decide to make even more video, what might you need?
- Experiment with LIVE video with Facebook Live (requires your phone or laptop).
- Consider getting a slightly better camera. I use a Canon G7X Mark II for my videoblog right now. It’s not super fancy. There aren’t spots for attachments. But the benefit is that I stuff it in my pocket or backpack everywhere I go.
- Consider learning more about editing. Again, I use iMovie. Maybe I’ll move up to Final Cut Pro eventually, but I do the basics.
Get Good at Video
The term “get good” is grammatically sloppy. It’s a meme thrown around in video games during some kind of team play experience and it’s used in a kind of negative and criticizing way. “Oh, you missed your shot at the goal. Get good, bro.” It means also sort of like “hurry up! You’re behind the curve here.” That’s why it’s appropriate. You and I are behind the curve in making video.
What will we be shooting? We’ll be shooting everyday life and business. We’ll shoot videos of our warehouse crew packing a truck, or our office team having a meeting to brainstorm a client’s big win. We’ll shoot videos of us walking along the beach or in the forest thinking through what we most want to share with the people we serve. The video we create will be one of our conversational mainstay tools the way writing is today. This is how a LOT of people consume what they take in.
We have to learn the “language” of video. Right now, if you’re making any video, you’re in the infancy of it. You’re taking your phone out for a live video walk. You’re sitting in front of your laptop and producing “talking head” video. And that’s a good start.
But it’s not good enough. Our eyes are too smart. Professionals have tuned us into lots of visual “cutting,” of scene switching, of “movement” used as a narrative tool, and many more details. We don’t want static shots. Our eyes aren’t happy if you’re sitting still. We get antsy. ALL of our attention spans are shorter, and part of that has translated into how we create and edit video.
The actual mechanics of this are strange and not what you’re used to doing. I push the record button and the stop button HUNDREDS of times and create hundreds of very small (and sometimes longer) clips. When I’m done, I have maybe 200 or 300 clips that will be turned into 7 or so minutes of video. Think about that. That’s not how YOU are making your average video, if you are at all.
It Might Be Foreign To You, But It’s Our New Language
We’ve always been visual. The oldest hieroglyphics discovered to date happened over 5400 years ago. And our language is littered with references and phrases that are visual, too: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
And print isn’t going away. You can still write your blog posts, etc. But visual content is a shortcut to reaching people, connecting with them, and giving them a faster dose of whatever it is you want to help them do.
Start practicing. Here’s a video I shot a few weeks into my relaunch of my videoblog:
Here’s a “slice of life” video I shot a few weeks later. See the differences?
What I’m Learning: There’s a blend between lots of jumpy clips and static shots that’s required. If I’m going to convey an actual message, I have to take the “depth” in the first video and mix it with the energy and flow of the second. You’re going to have to learn this, too. To storyboard a bit. To understand how to seek out and find “b roll” to make your videos more fluid and vibrant.
Oh, and I’m shooting and editing this myself. I don’t have a fancy team. I’m the fancy team.
Again, the work I’m doing right now is mostly practice. I’m learning the tools so that I can better communicate with the people I want to serve through my business.
And that’s all I’m asking YOU to do. Start practicing. Get good. Because the time for video is NOW (and more realistically a few years ago). So let’s make our visual communication better.
Start By Pressing Record
Use your phone, your laptop, your point and shoot. Whatever you have. Practice looking into the lens. Practice talking to others when you’re really just talking into glass and metal and plastic. Delete the first few but only after you watch them and learn. Remove your ums. Make better eye contact. Learn. Learn. Progress.
And share your works! You’ll only get better if you start putting it out there eventually for people to react and respond to, and that’s where the real learning comes in.
You with me? Let’s go.
(Oh, and here’s another post I did about how to start videoblogging. You might fit it helpful, too!)
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