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MarkofSeaLife 01-13-2019 08:14 AM

How to make GREAT Videos!
Someone asked for a thread about making videos where we could have a chat about techniques to make a video and perhaps see and assess some.

Doesn't matter if you want to make $millions on Youtube or just have fun while lazing your cruising day, or having something to put on Facebook for friends and family.

So, if you like, ask questions, or link your video.
If you'd like comments about your video to make it better you can by asking for comments in PMs (private messages) or here in the open.

If the thread works it will be fun, if no one is interested it will wither.. fade and plop off.

Where shall we start?

I think the most important bit is not the technical side - we can fix that later - but:


It you! The Presenter who is the driving force on any segment. We are going to see you, your exploits and your personality for 4 minutes or more. If you do a video each week your audience will come to know and understand and like the personality of the presenter even if you think you're the TV host from hell. You just need to give yourself time to relax into your persona and time for your audience to fall in love.

Take a few seconds video on your phone of yourself right now. Say Hi and your name. 10 seconds nothing more.
And play it back.
Did you smile?
Did you look like a Police arrest photo? Or a scared bunny rabbit in car headlights?

As you do it often you will begin to relax and the real you will come through. No you don't have to be a smiling hyena if you're not a naturally smiley person. But do try it at the beginning and end of each video.

The next thing is to know what to say. All adlibs on TV are scripted. All of them. Everyone one. No matter who it is.
Grab a pen and paper or warm the computer and write what you want to say and then memorise it.
Now go record it on your phone or camera a few times and see what its like. If its an information piece was it done in an informative style? Was it a fun piece? Did it have fun? Did you have fun?

OK Lets have a look into my BS archive of naughty one-shot videos.
I haven't made any for ages and theres none on the chopping block.
Lets just have a look and see how I am trying to tell a STORY whilst having a bit of fun.
Watch the video without reading the stuff under it... and we will watch it again looking at some points ive made :)

Whole intro is done in just 7 seconds! This is good. get the subject of your video out immedietly and introducing yourself, quickly.
Video should have included a Establishing Shot Est or WS to show where we are. Hoever this video will be OK if you are doing one each week so your audience knows youre on a boat, cruising etc. but its NOT good enough for a new audience or non sailing audience!
At 36 seconds: Instruments. Hold the camera steady when you are talking about something so people can see what it is. This needed Cutaways... close ups done that are edited into the video so people can really see what youre on about.
At 54 seconds VHF Radio goes off. Something unuscripted so use it! Have fun! If it doesnt work just cut it out in edit :)
In the frst 60 seconds we have done: Intro; Todays subject; looked at a book; sails. instruments and had fun w the VHF all in just 60 seconds!
The Ship: OK, sorry its a bit naughty! :devil :devil But it was scripted! Just before I did my first Take I saw the ship in the distance so I thought up a (funny?) like to bring it into the video. The first take was no good so I was lucky the ship was still in a good position to still work. Bring in everything you can: If something happens, a kid walks through etc, include it :)
At 1:45 we do some informative stuff but still in the style of the rest of the video. Glad I could later afford a new dinghy! With information stuff make sure you get your points across: Needed long curing or 7 days, yes you can do it at sea. etc
At 2:00 Todays Problem... sounds like it could be a great regular segment. Also great to show people what actually happens in your video 'world'.
2:45 If you stuff up maybe you can still keep it! I didn't want to do a 3rd take so I flustered through!

Finishing at 3 minutes! Wow!!!!!!!!!!! Who can be bored when its all done in 3 minutes! Seriously, with the camera style it could not have sustained longer than 3 minutes. Audiences turn off. So if your video is longer than 4 or 5 minutes please realise that you have lost half your audience before the end. Bad camera work, bad style, bad presenting will have audiences clicking off so keep your video short until you audience understands you.

Just to cap it...: If you do a weekly video your personality will begin to come out. Relish it and give it a push in the fun direction, or whatever direction you think will 'sell' your story. Don't try too hard, just enjoy it :)

Any questions/Comments/Thoughts?


SanderO 01-13-2019 09:12 AM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
good idea for a thread... I don't make vids but learning how to do with a smart phone is handy... some questions:

Do you use a selfie stick? which one and what features does it have?

Do you use a tripod or mono pod? Which one?

How much of your video work is done hand held?

Do you use a "stabilizer" which dampens the phone or camera movement? Which one do you use? Do you set it to maintain horizontal? What happens when you pan up the mast or sails for example?

Arcb 01-13-2019 09:44 AM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
I do a weekly video, almost weekly, didn't do one this week. I have the footage, I just couldn't motivate myself to edit and upload. I am a very amateur videographer, so these ideas are just my opinion based on trial and error.

Your boat has its own personality, use it to your advantage. I frequently buy, sell, modify, build and borrow mostly inexpensive boats. In 4 years of Youtubeing my vids have at different times featured about 9 different boats; 3 kayaks, 2 canoes, a beach cat, a cat rigged dinghy, a Sharpie, a heavy displacement cruiser and a fin keeled sloop. Some boats people love, other boats are ignored. My Sharpie is popular. I aim to get a decent thumb of the boat for the video, but that is very often not practical as I don't have a chase boat or a drone. Decent thumbs matter. A good video can fall flat due to a bad thumb. However, I personally think the thumb should be of something in the video, or at the very least of your actual boat.

Title and description is key, probably the most important part, people find your videos via Google Youtube searches mostly. %94.1 of my views come from non subscribers. Of those %33 come from YouTube searches and another %12.5 come from google searches and %25 come from YouTube suggested videos which are suggested based on title and description. So that is %70 of views at least are based on the search terms given in my title and description, I find I get diminishing results if I use the same title twice and add something like <part 2>. It seems like stand alone video titles do better to me.

I do mostly 10 minute videos, some people complain that they are long, my average view duration is 3 minutes and 18 seconds. So some are watching the whole vid, but most are not. I am okay with that, it is my story to tell.

Sound matters, and it is really hard to get good sound on a sailboat with cheap camera equipment. I have done a lot of experimentation, but I find myself using more and more voice overs these days.

Stabilise your camera. Shaky video is problematic. I use all kinds of methods to stabilise my camera; tripod, gorilla pod, gaffer tape, I find a sponge on deck with a bungee cord over the camera is a good way to eliminate vibration. If you cant stabilise through mechanical means, try and use two hands on the camera, walk slowly.

Here is a typical video of a 3 day float through a wetland bird sanctuary.

I like this vid, it hasn't had a ton of views, but I think that is mostly because the title is very focused. Only would somebody googling something as obscure as the Merrickville Bird Sanctuary would be likely to happen across this vid. The thumb is also so so, I don't think that helps.

Mikael 01-13-2019 10:32 AM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
What a wonderful amount of information already in the first posts! Big thanks.

And I was afraid making good video wouldn't be all about gadgets and other "easy" stuff, so good to get the personality thing out there in the open immediately :grin

One other thing I'm struggling a bit with is "what story do I want to tell?". Maybe it's something that can be left to evolve without stressing too much about it?

MacBlaze 01-13-2019 12:02 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
I don't shoot for any particular audience, just to record memories but then I usually cut them all together with a voiceover and post them for family. So remembering to shoot and remembering to do it everyday is a big problem with me.

And editing? It usually takes me 4 months and I spend all my time fussing with graphics or maps and then do nothing to improve the voice over or music. I have much respect for the professionals and amateurs out there that are putting in the time.

This first one is one of a series of 7 (one a week) and I kept them down to ~5-10 minutes. I put a lot of time into the maps as I was trying out After Effects and in the end it probably wasn't worth it.

This one was last year and I wanted to use all the footage as it was so beautiful so episodes ballooned to 20 minutes apiece. Beginners mistake, I know.

I have to say, video story telling isn't a lot like writing. You are always limited by what you have shot and the 4 second "I sat there, stunned by the beautiful site of these friendly dolphins cavorting" is replaced by 3 minutes of video that never quite captures just how stunned you were. And don't get me started on colour grading... using two different cameras is a pain in the butt :-)

Vernon Deck 01-13-2019 01:49 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
Good idea for a thread.
My career as a commercial photographer has been going for over 20 year now so I have the technical knowledge but man its difficult to make a good video! I'm so used to a single image telling a story. With video you need good audio, b-roll, music, establishing shots, narration and it goes on.
Also as I am mostly sailing solo its really hard to actually capture the footage that make compelling viewing. I have learned to fly my drone while sailing solo and that brings some nice images.

I really enjoy the challenge though so will keep trying to improve and my mum loves keeping up with my adventures.

MacBlaze 01-13-2019 02:18 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!

Originally Posted by Vernon Deck (Post 2051576538)
I have learned to fly my drone while sailing solo and that brings some nice images.

Talk about distracted driving :|

MikeOReilly 01-13-2019 02:31 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
Good thread, nice vids guys. I have zero talent with this stuff, but Iím trying to get better.

I have made annual summation videos of our journeys going back 10 years now. I make them for friends and family. They are 10 to 20 minutes long, and incorporate both video and still photo.

I do it to have a personal record, and also so we can show people what weíre up to without forcing folks to watch 2 hours of slides or videos. Unfortunately I tend to use commercial music in my vids, so canít post them publicly (personal use only). Although I could probably post a small clip:

One of the basics of any communications production is knowing who youíre communicating to, and why. A video made for general audience viewing is likely going to be quite different than one made for personal use. Is this a travel piece? Are you telling a personal story? Is it informational or emotional? Are you trying to make money? Ö all these things will shape the character of the work.

MacBlaze, how do you do your mapping. I think they add to the story telling, but Iíve not found as good a method as you use.

MacBlaze 01-13-2019 02:48 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!

Originally Posted by MikeOReilly (Post 2051576544)

One of the basics of any communications production is knowing who youíre communicating to, and why. A video made for general audience viewing is likely going to be quite different than one made for personal use. Is this a travel piece? Are you telling a personal story? Is it informational or emotional? Are you trying to make money? Ö all these things will shape the character of the work.

MacBlaze, how do you do your mapping. I think they add to the story telling, but Iíve not found as good a method as you use.

Mike, I would love to see more of your videos...especial Nfld. We visited by land a decade a go and it still stands out as one of the most magical places I've been. I also would love to see more tiller's something very under represented in the YouTube community.

The maps? Well it's a long story and a longer process but, I wanted to teach myself After Effects so I did it the hard way. I needed a copyright free map so I traced the BC coast in Illustrator using several source maps. Then I imported my Navionics tracks over top and traced them as well. All this went into AE and I spent a month or so trying to figure out how to zoom and pan in 3 dimensions (I don't think I ever did find a method a "pro" would approve of). Then it was just a matter of unmasking the line in time with the camera zooms.

I really should get back to it to try and simplify the processóI know there has to be an easier way if I could just master the tools.

I think your comment about audience is spot on. I started making videos because way back in 2013 there were no real good videos of what sailing the PNW was like and as a noob I wanted to see what I was getting myself into. So I thought I would fill the gap if I could. But then I realized, really the only audience I could count on was family. With all the new patreon-goaled videography coming out now, I find my editing self competing with those three different audiences and as a result I always shake my head at the schmozzle I've just spent weeks making. I absolutely know if I just picked one it would improve my videos by an order of magnitude but I find myself caught up in that "serving all masters" trap.

Then again, I am doing it mostly for fun and practice so who really cares...

Saltwater Taffy 01-13-2019 05:26 PM

Re: How to make GREAT Videos!
I don't know about 'great', but I like to make videos to entertain myself. I enjoy watching them during the winter months, to help get over the non-sailing season.
I try to capture the tone of the trip through pacing and music. I this case I had to replace the music I had originally selected due to copyright issues on YouTube - even though the music I used was sourced from Youtube. Go figure. Anyway I replace the 'pirated music' with royalty free music.
The title of the vid is 'L'eau Rider' - a play on the song 'Low Rider' by War.
If the vid was for public consumption I would include either a voice-over explaining locations, or, at least, sub-titles.

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