5 big mistakes we made on Youtube
At TwistED, we have been intending to start a Youtube channel for years. This shutdown has given us the time to finally do it! Here I outline the biggest mistakes we made when starting to make videos!
I have learnt a lot, either from trial and error or from reading and watching guides, but I am by no means an expert. There are heaps of things that I still need to learn but we have come along way from when I started. I wrote this quick guide to help anyone out there start a youtube channel and at least skip SOME of the mistakes that we made.
“Our first video took all day to shoot! It is actually not bad – not our best video but not our worst.”
Mistake 1 – Learn to use your camera!
I have had a DSLR camera for a few years now but haven’t really played around with it much before starting making these videos. I wish I had learnt a bit more about using it beforehand. One of the things that really helped was using manual focus over auto focus. Auto focus is fine for shots that are approximately at the same distance, but as soon as anything is moving towards or away from the camera it has trouble keeping up. Sometimes it can take up to ten seconds or so to refocus, but by then the shot is ruined. It took a bit of practice to use manual focus and it is a bit of extra work while filming but it makes it easy to keep everything in focus for most of the time, which makes for much better videos.
Ideally you would know all about aperture, ISO, shutter speed, manual and auto focus, and just generally how your camera works before starting a channel. There are heaps of beginner guides out there in video and BLOG form so go for it!
Don’t worry if you don’t have a expensive camera – start with your phone. You can still learn a lot about how your phone camera works which will help make your videos great!
Mistake 2 – Learn basic lighting design!
One of the other things I never really thought about before starting this project was lighting in videos. It really makes a huge difference between making a good looking video or not. Some videos I had to completely change because I was trying to film them next to a large window, which had too much light coming from one direction. After the first few videos, I ended up using a lighting kit (just a couple of cheap light stands) for most of our shots, and I was very aware that the lighting was one of the first things that needed to be addressed when looking to shoot at a new location.
“Our second video (after a 6 month break) had really bad lighting.”
Mistake 3 – Don’t discount good audio!
Good audio makes a HUGE difference. In fact, if given the choice, most people will prefer a video with great audio and bad video over a video with great video and bad audio. That’s right, sound can be more important than video!
Lapel (lavalier) mics are great. Even a $10 lapel (lavalier) mic will sound better than more expensive but further away microphones. Initially, we were using a cheap wired lapel microphone, but it really limited our ability to shoot certain shots. It sounded pretty good but the cable wasn’t very long. It also tended to get tangled if Ben (the presenter) was moving around too much. The built in camera microphone wasn’t an option because it sounded way too bad with the way we shooting (we had a lot of background noise).
We ended up getting a wireless lapel mic, and so far it has been amazing. It sounds great, and can be hidden easily on a black t-shirt. The only problem we have had is if the presenter is conducting interviews or there are two presenters, it makes it a bit tricky. In the future I want to invest in a shotgun mic, which attaches on top the camera and would be able to capture multiple voices in good quality.
If you do start with in built microphones, that is OK. Just be aware of where you are shooting and eliminate background noise as much as possible. Also, you may need to talk louder than you are used to.
Mistake 4 – Good editing software help a lot!
Editing videos can be really fun. It is super creative and here you finally start seeing your finished video and what it will look and sound like. But editing video is time consuming and learning to edit videos has a very steep learning curve. To make it easier one thing I learned early on was that not all editing software is built the same.
The original software I was using was incredibly slow even on my mid to high powered desktop. It would take seconds for changes to be made, it got stuck while scrolling, and editing very small cuts was almost impossible. A friend of mine who does some of our editing uses Final Cut Pro (on Mac), and after a quick lesson with him on the basics, I switched almost immediately. On a much lower powered computer, everything was smooth, and most things were intuitive (although there still are a few commands that I find odd, but it may be from previously using other software). This is one thing I especially wish to learn more about because I am still very much a beginner. My brother (Ben) uses Adobe Premiere Pro on PC which is also great.
“Our 2nd newest video. The lighting and audio and editing are OK but the colour is weird. Be careful to balance your colours correctly!”
Mistake 5 – Start now!
The last and biggest mistake was not starting sooner. It is always really hard to take the first step when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, but it is totally worth it. If you want to make some videos, grab your phone or camera, start shooting and editing, and upload them. You will improve so quickly that you won’t believe it! We still have along way to go but we have come such a long way in 6 months, it’s so exciting!
The development of these Youtube videos has been a great experience and has let me and the team learn and improve our skills. I am currently developing another series for Youtube and what I have learnt over this past year means I am starting in a much better place.
The team and I will continue to develop videos and continue to learn, and I know that our videos get better and better. It is a great thing that anyone with a bit of gear and and an idea can spread their vision to people all around the world. So go out there, try not to make the same mistakes I did (you will make enough anyway) and get started!