What I didn’t consider about vlogging

I have three cameras running and my phone that I talk into when I want to make a small note – sometimes I talk directly into one of the other cameras. All of this is super easy to sync with Adobe Premiere. No worries there. Two cameras are on tripods and the third, the Crosstour, is on a Joby mini-gorilla.

What I didn’t consider was that setting up these cameras:
1) Blocking. I set up the cameras to record the best angles of my working. I didn’t consider that I might have to move the cameras frequently to different areas when I move. When shooting concerts and live action works I am the tripod so I’m always moving. When shooting scripted work there’s blocking and the cameras are set up out of the way. When another angle is needed then we move the cameras and block again. I need to adjust my thinking so that the cameras are farther out of the way. Or that I set the cameras in different locations out of the way for all of the work. Or that I realize where the cameras are and do all of the work in that area first. The last one is far more difficult because I move all over like the kid in Family Circle getting anywhere.

2) Recording everything takes much longer. I figured it would take a little longer, but it’s taking much longer. Climbing up a ladder to turn on the Crosstour and make sure it’s aimed correctly (I have a remote so that’s easier than climbing, still…). Constantly moving the camera to get the best shots or more interesting shots anyway. All of that takes a little time to get used to. So a task that would’ve taken me an hour or so ended up taking a couple hours. And then there’s editing all of that. There’s a lot of footage. There’s a lot of bad footage. Bad in terms of unusable in that it’s just not good for a story and bad in terms of one camera being out of focus or you forget that a camera gets a great full screen shot of your butt as you step up a ladder.

3) Talking to the camera. When you’re doing a vlog where you talk to the camera directly all of the time there’s a challenge to make it a bit more interesting. It’s similar to “talking heads” when filming dialog (mostly exposition) in scripted works. I have a problem talking more “enthusiastically” – not because it’s hard; because I forget to be more animated on camera like you do on stage then it comes across a bit better. I also need to do a better job planning what I’m going to say. Most of what I do could be given in bullet points. I also get wrapped up in details that aren’t important. Show don’t tell. I’ll talk far longer about something than I need to. Scott Brown Carpentry and Casey Neistat make this more interesting by presenting the camera at different heights and locations and then they make a point to go to the camera in it’s weird location. For example, if the camera is high looking down they’ll get on a ladder and go up to the camera to talk. Casey would (for example) some jumpcut footage of him walking up looking at the camera. then a cut of him dragging a ladder out. then a cut of him expanding the ladder. then a cut of him moving the ladder towards the camera. then a cut of him climbing up. and finally cut to him at the camera talking. All of this is about 15 seconds long and is well done to look the way it does. It seems amateurish and yet isn’t. Just like when he walks up to a desk and there’s stuff on it – he’ll push it out of the way to talk. Part of that is the familiarity with the audience. He put that stuff there. He set up the camera. He framed the camera. Then walked out of the room to re-enter. It takes a little work. However, it makes you feel like you’re there with him. He’s Mister Rogers (of a sort) and you’re his neighbor. Scott Brown does something similar except he doesn’t do the extra work. He’ll place a camera to record action then move to where the camera is to talk to it but he doesn’t add the additional pieces that Casey does. You still feel like you could encounter him on the street and be instant friends.

I’m so used to writing screenplays and then filming those that ad lib isn’t really something I cross into well without it getting really boring fast. I mean I watched some of my videos and I wouldn’t watch them again (just sayin). What I have been doing is recording ad lib a couple of times incorporating pieces in each that I remember. Then I’ll do another take and get a better set in there. I need to do something better with my notes. Idk what yet. When I do voice overs I have a teleprompt app that I control from my phone to go faster and slower.

This is all part of my learning experience in vlogging. Mostly since I’m not vlogging daily notes but a specific project or tip so I’m trying to get it right and be entertaining. If I were doing this in front of an audience it’d be both – I just haven’t transitioned to doing that for this new, to me, medium.

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