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How I Produce Video Blog Posts

Video BloggingEach time I release a new Video based post I get a number of questions about the technicalities of producing the video. So today I thought I’d answer the most common questions that I’ve been asked so far. By no means am I a ProVideoBlogger. I’ve produced just a handful of them and know I have a long way to go and a lot to learn (in fact I’m considering taking a short course in video making). However I’m happy to share what I know:

What Camera do you use?

The camera that I’ve been using is a Canon MVX20i video camera. It’s a model that is a little old (I bought it 2-3 years ago). I have recorded a couple with my iSight web cam (like A Day in the Life of a Blogger) and it produced reasonable results – but I find that the Canon video camera is a little better.

What lighting do you use?

Nothing special here – the last video who does your blog serve was shot with lots of natural light and the lights of the room on. It was a pretty sunny day outside so that helped. On darker days I’ve been known to bring an extra lamp into the room.

What is your audio being recorded through?

The camera’s microphone.

Are you using a mac or pc?

I’m using a Power Mac (desktop) to record these videos. I record directly onto the computer through a firewire cable into iMovie (ie I don’t record it onto the camera and then upload but go directly).

What software are you using to add in those titles at the bottom of the video that appear then fade out

The whole editing process is done within iMovie. I was using iMovie HD (2006 version) until this last video and have just bought the new iLife which has a completely updated version of iMovie (which is easy to use but frustratingly light on in terms of features – I’m thinking of going back to iMovie HD).

How Long Does it Take to Shoot and Edit a Video? How many takes do you have to do?

It varies a lot. This last week’s video was shot in about 25 minutes including setup of camera. The editing probably took 1.5 hours or so. It was a pretty quick one. I did prepare what I wanted to say over the day or two before recording it (brainstorming and making some key points). I usually practice it a few times without the camera and then record it – I’ve not really taken more than 1 or 2 takes. I’m sure I could spend more time perfecting it – but for me the beauty of this medium is that it’s more conversational and raw.

How many people view these videos?

The First Impressions Video has been viewed 5088 times at the time of writing this. That’s a little higher than previous ones.

Do read your talk or make it up as you go?

I don’t read it – instead I write down the main points that I want to cover and put them just under the lens – then I go with the flow.

What tips would you give for someone wanting to record a video post?

I’m no expert on this – but a few ‘lessons’ come to mind:

  • Work hard to look the camera ‘in the eye’ - it’s difficult and awkward at first speaking to a camera – but it makes your videos much more engaging and personal.
  • Keep it simple – don’t try to make too many points. Attempt to keep your videos short by covering just a point or two rather than trying to do something that will go for a long time. Short, sharp and useful clips will obviously have more of an impact that long dull ones.
  • Take advantage of the Audio Visual nature of the medium – video is obviously an audio visual medium and as a result it gives you an opportunity to do something a little different. The First Impressions Video illustrated to me the power of getting a little creative – the feedback was really great.
  • Inject Humor – I find it more difficult to use humor in the written form than in person. Video allows you to express body language, tone of voice etc which lends itself to humor.
  • Know what You Want to Say – I’ve seen a few video bloggers lately who seem to decide what to say when they switch their camera on. I’ve found that the more prepared I am the better it tends to go. This is partly just my style.
  • Check out Freevlog - Freevlog is a great resource with loads of tutorials and tips on producing Video Blogs.

If you’ve produced video posts – I’d love to hear your tips also – what have you learned?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dan Cole says:

    Thanks for the info. I was wondering how it was all done, but I didn’t take the time to look it up. I’ve been thinking about trying it, but I’m not sure. What you’ve brought up makes me want to wait a little while since I don’t think I can make it worth watching.

    You do presentations like I do, it’s a nice way I could never read work for word out loud.

  2. that is coolin -I think I might have to get a new camera – and not use my web cam – I have been using my web cam to make my videos – and yet I have just started to make videos on my blog – I do a little comedy a little acting helps with the crowd

  3. Although I don’t do video podcasts, I used to show tutorial screencasts on my site. Those were very nice tips, and I agree to what you said about “knowing what to say”. That’s the very first step that any video blogger should do. The software, lighting, or video quality won’t matter unless you know what you’re going to do. Nice tips!

    Sly from Slyvisions.com

  4. Chad says:

    Pretty savvy actually ;) You caught me off guard with the attire switching (your First Impressions video). For only being shot in 25 minutes, that was some attention keeping work!

  5. Sean says:

    The video you make look very good and clear.

    I say sometime it’s best to make video because everyone rather watch than read these days.

    For those who are camera shy, like me, I use picture a lot to keep the readers attention.

  6. Here’s the golden question, are videos easier or harder than plain text posts?

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    Chad – thanks, but the 25 minute video was my last video not the first impression one which took an hour or so to shoot (lots of costume changes!)

  8. Great post. I haven’t done any video blogging yet, but this post has inspired me to at least give it a try. Unfortunately, I think I may have to end up using my digital camera for recording videos. My Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 has horrible noise in the image.

  9. Rich Minx says:

    Video posts are a good way of ‘shaking things up’ from time to time and are a bit more personal.

    My video tips:
    1. Keep the camera level – low angle is unflattering to the face and high angle makes you look less authoritative.
    2. Don’t do it when you’re feeling sleepy – you’ll look sleepy!
    3. Watch TV and make notes – what do the reporters do when speaking to the camera? How do they manage to not look like robots?
    4. Hire a guest director – is Mr Spielberg available?

  10. Darren Rowse says:

    Jeremy – they are both so different that I think some people would find one easier than the other. I like video because it seems more personal, more ‘sensory’ and I can express myself differently – however text is good too because it can be crafted and reedited as you go in different ways.

    Both are good and both can be hard :-)

  11. Brad V. says:

    Wow Darren! I’m really impressed. I’m nowhere near doing a video blog post yet. Actually, I think my ugly mug would break most computer screens. :-)

    If I did do a video, though, I’d “try” to inject it with as much humor as possible (the key word being “try”). I also like your idea of writing the main points down and posting right under the camera lens. Reading from a script sounds too stilted and boring.

    I’d also try to make it interactive – like sort of a call-in type format or I somehow respond to what viewers are saying. Otherwise it might getting old if I’m just talking.

    But I’m a long way off from doing a video blog. I need to walk before I run. I’m actually considering doing an audio post for my blog. I have the equipment to do it and I like the talk radio format.

    Great post and great tips! Thanks!

  12. Daniel Ted says:

    Oh yeah, checking out Freevlog right now.

  13. I’ll pay close attention to this – I’m going to do a live pitch via webcam to some publishers in a few weeks. Not quite the same, but almost!

  14. Bob Walsh says:

    One thing I learned doing a vote for me video for a conference I want to speak at is the less of me onscreen, the better!

    Great stock video can be had cheap ($10 USD a pop) from sites like istockphoto – then voiceover the stock you pick, and you get a much more video-like video.

  15. Thanks for the break down! *=)

  16. “Actually, I think my ugly mug would break most computer screens. :-)”

    Same here, I might have a voice for podcasting but I sure as heck know I don’t have the face for videocasting.

  17. This post is most welcomed because I am researching how to do video tutorial podcasts. I am new to the video area. So, your article is a good point to start from.

  18. Kelvin says:

    I’ve always wondered if you have a computer screen in front of you, because I see the kind of glare that a screen can produce.

    I am also wondering what the American equivalent of Canon MVX20i is…

  19. markowe says:

    My one video tip: video editing can REALLY bog you down. Keep it simple or you will be spending HOURS editing a video of a few minutes, I guarantee you! You have to be really sure you want to get into video blogging and the commitment it entails. I for one will be avoiding it for now. The fact that anyone can now “be on TV”, together with the YouTube phenomenon, already seem to have devalued the spoken word (or maybe that happened long ago), and I still feel well-written content wins every time (and of course, Google is not crawling video materials yet, and especially not indexing their content!)

  20. Josh says:

    No doubt we will see Darren on Time or News Weekly here in the states. Great Job Darren. Video blogs rule!

    You have changed my life!

    My site is improving everyday.

  21. Marc Eilbeck says:

    thanks for the tips darren. Ive just done my first video post and I sort of rushed into it without thinking it throught really I think these tips will help for my next video blog.

  22. PaMidstate says:

    So how many people typed in ProVideoBlogger and added the .com to see if Darren already had that domain? It was the first thing I did!

    It doesn’t look like the quality is quite up to par like this site (site design, I mean), so my guess is that Darren doesn’t own it. The about page isn’t even done!

    Tom

  23. Darren Rowse says:

    not mind PaMidstate

  24. Maldino says:

    very useful for me i will try to make a one now and hope it will be good as yours .. thanks Darren

  25. Anne says:

    I’m creating a blog and intend to use video. Recommendations on easy-to-use editing programs for Windows?

  26. Doug says:

    i was just thinking of doing a video post and was wondering how to do it. once again your page provides a decent insight into the process and has given some good pointers on what to do while making the video. i’ll let you know how the video post turns out on my site. thanks

  27. Lyle says:

    Darren
    Love your site. I took a lead from you and the world of Web 2.0 and started my first video post on my blog.

    You can see it here:
    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/08/26/new-feature-bi-monthly-chevy-volt-video-news-update/

    The feedback was pretty strong, and I now have learned some of the lessons of which you speak. My next effort should be better.

  28. jono says:

    Hi Darren.. thanks for answering my questions

  29. Graeme Mac says:

    Thanks for taking the time to make a post. You answered all my questions from before and then some.

  30. Bill McRea says:

    Helpful. I am linking from my blog. Thanks

    There really is no mystery.

  31. MichelleVan says:

    I just made my first video cast today. First I tried to read the text I prepared, in fact I did that about 4 times but each time when I played it back it seemed too rehearsed. Finally I just looked into the camera and talked. It’s very raw but I like it better. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you come up with, but I’ll take it slow and just be myself.

  32. Chris Beall says:

    Thanks for sharing the great tips!

    I’m not good looking enough to appear regularly on video, even on my own blog, so I’m using a technology that doesn’t require a camera. Rest of reply is here:

    http://www.qlipmedia.com/ShowQlippit.php?ID=9aac07e241dbc54c7a8921d969abaa9f02d63bad57333021b3fb99566c7d4fde

  33. Andy says:

    Try experimenting with daylight fluorescent bulbs – I’ve ordered some – they should give a nice natural whiter light.

  34. chat says:

    chat tank you :D thank degil he tank OmerDemir :D

  35. efe says:

    It doesn’t look like the quality is quite up to par like this site (site design, I mean), so my guess is that Darren doesn’t own it. The about page isn’t even done!

  36. PaMidstate says:

    Hey Darren – it looks like you have an interesting type of comment spam going on… look at the comment by ‘efe’ above. That comment is a duplicate of a portion of the comment that I left above.

    I am subscribed to comments – which is how I ended up catching it…

    Tom

  37. bloger says:

    thanks 4 the break down!

  38. You have changed my life!

    My site is improving everyday.

  39. About six months I witness the wonder of videoconferencing when I was asked to deliver my lecture from my university to a high school via video conferencing. First I was thinking it was just a camera recording my lecture and will make the necessary editing to show the high school students but later I realized that I was interacting with the students live. Great technology