How Making YouTube Videos Spiced Up my Life

clapper board for video making

Stare into the camera lens, start talking, and just be yourself — above all, don’t forget to plug in the microphone

A while ago I stopped thinking about writing on this platform. I felt that the mighty algorithms that determine whether a writer gets reads, views, and claps, had started to use more of the stick, and failed to deliver as much of the carrot as it did in previous times.

I looked around, immediately realising that all this writing had caused my eyes to become more blurry than ever. So, I took a look at what’s happening over on YouTube, and how it might be if I made a couple of videos about my photography. It turned out that it’s fun — and it’s hard work.

I love to write about what I see and think. I’m with Susan Sontag on the idea that photos are fascinating, and there’s a lot to the whole photography thing, but you can’t articulate a story with a photo — and there’s definitely no narrative in a photo. Nothing beats a nice string of words that blows someone else’s ideas out of the water.

Video is as visual as a photo, but everything is moving. That’s where the fun comes into making a talking head video.

I’ve made about 20 plus videos, some are better off in the bin, and some are not bad at all. My new viewers tell me so.

I started off by making a couple of videos about the shots I’d recently taken; street photography, a voice-over with short commentary on what, where, and why I took the shot.

I spoke into the camera, and made the whole video in short takes. Something like speaking a paragraph at a time. Often, I’d sit and read the paragraph, then go back to the camera and speak it from memory.

Most people who are interested in all types of things in life tend to have something to say about those things, so I discovered that just speaking out the written paragraph led me to formulate a further opinion on the subject and almost go into a rant.

I love the battle speech from Shakespeare’s King Henry V. It’s a stirring speech that motivates his men to fight a battle that they’ll probably lose. The power of the words act like a rising strength to the soul. Now, if I could make a YouTube video with such clarity, and similarly crafted words, I’d be well on my way to becoming a video superstar.

After just a few videos, that viewers seem to like, I began to dream of better things. Isn’t that what happened when I wrote a few pieces on this platform? And didn’t that lead to checking statistics every ten minutes, scratching my head all of the time about how to increase readership. It did.

Nevertheless, making these videos is inspiring, and if you have been pondering whether you should or shouldn’t get your feet wet in the large pond of video making, talking heads, and editing, I recommend that you have a go and find out if it might turn out to be something that floats your boat.

You may discover that you’re a natural.

I do recommend that you watch a few videos on how to best put a simple video together. How to find good music for introductions, free editing software that is just as good as PS.

I couldn’t stand lashing out 12 bucks a month for my photo editing software, then another 25 bucks for the video editing software.

So, a little search and find on the internet led me to a very good option that costs me zero pennies a month, and I’m still astonished that it’s so damned good to use. Viva la open source software.

When it comes down to getting better at what I was doing, I discovered that little habits make all the difference to how long each video takes to make.

Mistakes that even an experienced photographer can make when making videos, there’s a lot to think about; standing in front of the camera, camera on a tripod, pointing at my face and upper body, I can see myself in compositional form on the little viewfinder four feet away, cameras roll, I clap, and go into my spiel of whatever it is I’ve planned to talk about — I get on a roll, so I keep going, my brain is working so well today that I think I can do this whole seven-minute video in one take.

All goes well, camera off the tripod, upload video to the computer, editing software fired-up. Brilliant, it all looks good. Oh dear, doesn’t sound too nice.

I forgot to plug in the microphone.

That happens. It happens more than once. Pain in the neck, and it makes you feel like you’d be better off going back to bed, and carrying on tomorrow.

When I first used video to film something, I didn’t really know why it’s important to do a “clap” at the beginning of each take. Some sort of flamenco reference, or something like that.

As I got a little more interested, I read a few articles on how to make videos.

Then, I discovered the purpose of the clap. It’s simply a visual reference to the starting point, when the speaker begins to speak. It makes editing audio tracks and visual tracks a hell-of-a-lot easier. You need to align them.

You see the clap, and you know speech will begin immediately thereafter. You can see the clap wave form in the audio track. After that, every wave form in the audio track should be the speech. Cutting becomes easier. You probably already knew this — I didn’t.

Making these videos has given a little newness to my days. Something fresh to think about without wandering too far off the tracks that I normally explore.

There will be more videos, all with microphone plugged in, focus checks, and plenty of clapping; I just hope that my YouTube channel gets a few more thumbs up, and the comments wax verily.