mindset, planning

002: Getting Started With DIY Video

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The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...

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TheHost

Tors Grantham

Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.

She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four. 

Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.

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In This episode

Hands up who wants to start making videos but don’t know where to start? Yeah, you’re not alone in that. And for those of you who didn’t raise your hand, stick around, I’ve got some knowledge bombs you may find interesting, because today's episode is all about getting started with DIY video, possibly the biggest hurdle of all.

Now let me preface this by telling you that my background is in professional television. That means I’ve been trained in the “right” way of doing things, and I’m putting right in quotation marks on purpose. There’s a reason why the entertainment industry do things the way they do, and that’s because it frickin’ works. It allows productions to confidently create something that has a minimal chance of going wrong, which doesn’t mean that nothing goes wrong, but it helps provide a framework with a solid end goal.

And that’s where you should start.

Not in your equipment, but in what you want video to do for your audience.

Yeah, I have a different viewpoint on video than most other experts.

I think this is the most important part of anything you do for your business, not just video. I mean, there may be something more important but I’m struggling to think of it at this moment in time … pay your taxes maybe?

But I’m going off-track, so let’s get back to your audience and shit you didn’t know you needed to hear part one:

If the experience you’re giving your audience is pants (that’s Brit-speak for rubbish), then they’re not going to watch your video, or any other video, or sign up for your email list, or buy any of your products or services. That means that the time and energy it took you to make that video, was a fucking waste.

Everything hinges on creating an experience for your audience that’s beneficial to them, and that isn’t just about the content. That means you, how you deliver the content, is the video pleasing to watch, are you positioning yourself as someone who knows their shit? Because you know your shit, you do, but you’d be surprised how many people undermine their expertise in their videos without even realising they're doing it.

Don’t worry, I’ll be talking about that in the next episode, I won’t leave you hanging with an evil laugh like a megalomaniac on a power-trip.

So, start with what’s in it for your audience. And why video is the best way to deliver that to them.

That’ll inform which platforms you might want to focus on. For example, if video tutorials are the best way to deliver what you want your audience to learn, then YouTube is probably your best bet. You can cut them down, make teasers to drive viewers to YouTube from other platforms, but my understanding is that kind of content works best on YouTube because it’s the worlds second largest search engine. 

But! If you want your audience to learn more about who you are, and they'd eat up lifestyle videos or vlogging, Facebook may be the best place for those, because that’s where people go for lifestyle content.

And each platform has it’s own restrictions, requirements, and quirks. So knowing that first, that’s a huge help.

Not to mention it’ll help you narrow in on the subjects you want to cover, right?

Okay, now let’s talk equipment. And, again, I’m going to have a different perspective on this.

Because if you’re just getting started in video, the easiest way to talk yourself out of ever doing video again is to overwhelm yourself with all the equipment. Here’s a little something that no one really tells you: your first video is going to suck. It’s going to be awful. It’s supposed to be terrible, it’s where you’re going to learn the most, but you have to go through it to get better. You wouldn’t expect to get behind the wheel of a car for the first time and magically know how to make it work without killing anyone. Video’s kind of the same, all about the learning curve, but with no horrific death involved … I’m sorry, I feel like this metaphor’s gotten away from me.

If you can approach your first few videos as a learning curve and be okay with the fact that your videos aren’t going to match up with your expectations, then you’ll be off to a better start than most. Including me. And you know what, you don’t have to share these videos, they can just be your non-public learning curve if that helps you. But you have to make them, because you need to learn from them.

Also, using equipment that you’re already familiar with is going to help you get through that learning curve quicker. So, instead of going out and buying all the equipment your favourite blogger or biz mentor uses, wait.

Wait to learn the process, the intricacies, and get comfortable with them.

Not to mention, wait to learn what your environment, your content, your voice and your face need in terms of equipment, before you go shell out hundreds for stuff you may not even need.

Yeah, kit that works for someone else may not work for you. Something no one tells you, right? So my advice? Start with your phone.

You already know how to use it, the native camera app is probably really simple (it definitely is if you’re an iPhone user like me), and setting it up is really fucking easy. Remove the barrier to starting by using something so easy you can’t use your camera as an excuse any more.

You probably won’t even need a microphone either, just choose somewhere that’s quiet and has lots of soft furnishings to reduce echo, so your mic doesn’t pick up lots of everything else as well as, or instead of, you. Choose somewhere close to a window so you won’t need lights, but do know that your phone needs more light than you to see, so if your video’s looking pixelly, it’s not because you have a shit camera, it just needs more light. Best way to do that, go buy daylight balanced lightbulbs from the local hardware store and switch out the lightbulbs in your household lamps. That way the light will mix with what’s coming through the windows without leaving you looking orange or blue, which is what tends to happen when you mix up different types of light, like normal lightbulbs and daylight.

Quick science lesson on the colour of light, because if you’re like me, you like know why.

Back in the 1800’s, a dude with the name William Thomson, aka Lord Kelvin, created a unit of measurement for temperature based on an absolute scale and did what most dudes do when they invent something, he named it after himself. Essentially, each colour on the spectrum was given a colour temperature, ranging from warm (or red) to cool (or blue). This isn't named for the physical temperature but for the psychological impact, in fact cool colour temperatures are produced on bright sunny days. How's that for a mind fuck?

All this means, in short, is that the lights in your home are usually on the warm scale, they’re designed to replicate the feeling we have when we sit around a fire at night, warm, cosy and safe. If you turn one of those lights on during the day and then film with a mix of daylight and lamplight, you may come out looking orange or blue, depending on which is the stronger light source covering the area you’re standing in.

Why?

Because your camera sees the colour temperature of both light sources and tries to compensate. For your camera, oe only one of them can be the ‘normal’ light, meaning some of your picture may look blue if it decides your lights are the brighter (and therefore normal) light source, or orange if it decides daylight. Some cameras are better than others at adjusting but the easiest way I know to get around this is to not do it in the first place. This isn't something that you’re likely to be able to fix in the edit, which is why I recommend cheating with daylight balanced lightbulbs.

Look for lightbulbs that are balanced to around 5500K (or Kelvin), those are your daylight balanced bulbs, they’ll be close enough to the colour temperature of the light coming through your windows that you won’t get crazy colours going on.

Oh, and if you do decide you need a mic? Use your earbuds, that built-in mic is awesome. And no, I don’t mean have them in your ears, you want to look more pro than that, right? Simply plug them in, and then pin the mic part of the earbud to your chest, not through the wire, just so we’re clear! Pin it just out of camera shot, leaving the actual earbuds dangling out of sight. The mic part should still be close enough to pick up your voice.

I think I just saved you a shit tonne of money. You’re welcome.

Now that doesn’t mean that at some point you’re not going to want to invest in kit, but by focusing on learning to make videos, instead of learning new equipment, you’ll figure out where best to invest first - and I’ll let you into another secret, it probably won’t be your camera. But, honestly, you won’t know until you actually start making videos!

Let’s talk about something else you can do to help you stay out of overwhelm, with the added bonus of helping you not sound like a moron - a common fear among the awesome people I talk to.

Planning.

This is where my television background really comes into play, because I’ve seen first hand how beneficial planning is. Hell, it was my job for damn near ten years! By taking the time to plan out and, yes in the case of pre-recorded talking head videos, script what you want to say, you’re literally saving yourself a huge headache when filming and editing.  

Instead of freezing up, stuttering, or - worse - word vomiting at the camera in a desperate attempt to say something useful, which - by the way - is not a great audience experience, take the time to figure that all out before you press record. That way, when you get in front of the lens, you can focus on how you deliver it rather than what you’re delivering. 

Now, I know, I know, scripting is something people get their knickers in a twist over, mostly because they think it means they have to memorise it. Sooo not true! My view on a script is that it’s a roadmap, it helps you stay on track and gives clear direction to a pre-determined destination. You can break your script down into 2-3 sentence chunks, review the main message of that chunk, put the script down, and then deliver that message to the camera. It doesn’t have to be word for word, it gives you room to explore new ideas on the spot, but provides a framework for you to record within that ensures you deliver concise, coherent content that’s engaging, while not looking or sounding like you’re reading. And, most importantly, with no real or painful memorisation required.

The other thing about planning is it lets you think about the edit, I know sounds weird but is so useful. Take a moment to think about what sort of things you want to add in the edit, because you do want to edit. The edit can transform your content, it can take something mediocre and make it amazeballs. Don’t believe me? Well Star Wars was saved in the edit, I’ll put a link to that video below so you can check it out for yourself.

So, in the planning stage, think about what, if anything, you want popping up on screen. Because you’ll need to leave room beside you for that to work. And, hey, now that you’ve thought about it, maybe you can even point to the space where it’ll appear, make your videos a little more fun.

Spend the time thinking about what the finished product will look like, use your imagination. Go wild! Because that means when it comes to filming, you’re not having to make it up on the spot, which is probably the most stressful way I know to make videos.

And finally, the excuses of not knowing where to start or not having the money for the equipment, are usually just a cover for the fear of stepping in front of the lens. More often than not, it’s because people don’t want to look stupid, which is, y’know, a valid fear when trying something new on for size. Especially when that something new has a vulnerability hangover the size of video.

The first step is to acknowledge what exactly you’re afraid of. For me, it was that my ex-colleagues from telly would look at what I was creating and laugh their arses off. If I’m honest, it still is. Has it happened? Nope. If it did happen, I’m confident that I’d decide their opinions don’t count because they’re not who I want to help. That didn’t make it all miraculously easy to start making videos, but it did help give me the push to start. You have to make a conscious decision that video’s going to be worth being uncomfortable, that what you’ll get out of it is going to be worth more than that worse case scenario, and you need to decide who’s opinion matters.

Know how else you can start? With Instagram Stories - I freakin’ love Instagram Stories as a way to start getting comfortable on camera. Fifteen seconds of video that you can record over and over until you’re happy to publish it, disappears after 24 hours unless you tell it not to, and on a platform that’s like the last bastion of supportive, awesome people and very few trolls.

So if you’re struggling with fear that’s my challenge to you, start using Instagram Stories. They don’t even have to be business related if that helps take the pressure off!

Share your working space, what you had for breakfast, thoughts on the last episode of whateveryouwatched on television. You can even tell them you’re scared and looking to build your confidence on camera, I’m positive your community on Instagram will support you.

But, most importantly, just start. That’s where the magic happens.

PIN FOR LATER

Hands up who wants to start making videos but don’t know where to start? Yeah, you’re not alone in that. And for those of you who didn’t raise your hand, stick around, I’ve got some knowledge bombs you may find interesting, because today's episode is all about getting started with DIY video, possibly the biggest hurdle of all