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Video Blog Expert Tips / Part 1: Presentation 0

Posted on 30, January 2014

in Category Tutorials, Video


This is the first in a multi-part series on improv­ing video blog qual­ity. The series will cover pre­sen­ta­tion, light­ing, sound, edit­ing and cam­era tips. So lets dive in with pre­sen­ta­tion and we’ll get to cam­era, light­ing, edit­ing and sound qual­ity in fol­low up posts.

1. First and fore­most — learn to talk in sound bytes.

Video is not the printed page. In order to be inter­est­ing, infor­ma­tive and keep a viewer’s full atten­tion it must have a con­ver­sa­tional tone. Even if you pre-write your script you’ll want to read it aloud to weed out words you would not use in real life con­ver­sa­tion. I’m not going to lec­ture you about gram­mar because I’m not that type of guy, but what I do know is that when speak­ing on cam­era you’ll want to make good use of the period. Trust me when I say “Run-on-sentences will be the death of you if you ever try to edit”. I know what you’re think­ing: how do I explain a com­plex thought in a sound byte and what if I don’t plan to edit later?

Here is an Example:

Look at it this way: — even if you never touch an edit­ing pro­gram you still need to breath right? — Well with­out build­ing in some nat­ural breath­ing points — after a few words your lungs will not have enough power — to hit your key points. More impor­tantly, — try­ing to do a whole video post — with­out build­ing in strate­gic breath­ing points — is a sure-fire way to make you pass-out cold. — So, please — learn to talk in sound bytes.

Now, why does this work well for edit­ing? In the exam­ple above pay atten­tion to the dashes. If each dash was one beat (or one breath) you would edit on or between the dashes. Writ­ing out your script in this fash­ion also helps in that you can alter the amount of dashes to build in some desired pacing.

Didn’t nail your per­for­mance on the first try? No wor­ries, use those built it edit points to swap out for a bet­ter take where you didn’t stum­ble over your words. Hah, and you didn’t think I could con­vince you to try edit­ing. We’ll save the more advanced stuff for fol­low up posts, for now know that if you build in nat­ural pauses you’ll have more options later.

Pro-Tip: Once you get good at talk­ing in sound bytes con­sider your­self media trained for the “Big Time”. That’s right this tech­nique works great for any on-camera appear­ance includ­ing live tele­vi­sion. Addi­tion­ally, if you ever have an oppor­tu­nity to share clips with other pro­duc­tions pro­fes­sional edi­tors will appre­ci­ate and be more will­ing to include clips of you in their projects if your thoughts are clear and for­mat­ted in eas­ily digestible sound bytes.

2. Elim­i­nate Umms, Ahhs

Once you’ve mas­tered the sound byte next I’d sug­gest train­ing your­self to not say “umm” or “ahh” or sim­i­lar filler words between thoughts. Instead be silent. This will appear to the viewer as you being insight­ful and will give you addi­tional clean edits. It takes prac­tice but the end results are worth it.

3. Wan­der­ing eye syndrome

Equally dis­tract­ing to the viewer is what I call “Wan­der­ing eye syn­drome” now I’m not talk­ing about the knee jerk reac­tion when your sig­nif­i­cant other can’t keep there eyes to them­selves. No, this is more seri­ous because this one weak­ens your cred­i­bil­ity as a blog­ger. Basi­cally, think of it like this: as in high stakes poker the first to break eye con­tact looses. Do it once we dis­cover your “tell” now every time you look away from the cam­era we’ll know you’ve either lost your place or are mak­ing stuff up as you go. Basi­cally, it comes down to this “don’t let us see you think­ing on cam­era” you should always look con­fi­dent and inten­tional in what you are saying.

Pro Tip: Want that raw style with­out get­ting flus­tered — try this method: prep an out­line with large text before you turn on the cam­era. Print it out large and tape it next the lens. If you get lost quickly glance at your bul­lets then re-establish eye con­tact. Now that you’ve got an Ace up your sleeve lets move into styl­is­tic decisions.

4. Sit-down vs. Stand-and-Deliver

Are you the type of per­son that prefers the com­fort of a “sit-down”? Its pop­u­lar because our cen­ter of grav­ity is lower and we don’t have to worry about body lan­guage as much. The two big prob­lems to watch out if you go with this style are:

1. It’s easy to slouch down in the chair. This makes you look less engag­ing.
Instead lean for­ward, sit on the edge of your chair.

2. Swivel chairs and jump­ing beans. With such a tight cam­era frame even a small move­ment speaks vol­umes. Don’t swivel, don’t fid­get but do con­sider using a sta­tion­ary chair.

Want to come off more ani­mated and engag­ing? Ditch the sit down all together in favor of the Stand and Deliver. Stand­ing gives you abil­ity to use body lan­guage but be care­ful you must know your frame. In other words please don’t walk or wave your arms out­side where the viewer can see and never turn your back to us unless you’re a super­model blog­ging for Calvin Klein. We’ll explore cam­era angles in a fol­low up post but in both styles do what­ever you can to get the cam­era at eye level, I’ll explain why in the fol­low up post on cam­era decisions.

Prac­tice these tips and you’ll see a huge improve­ment in qual­ity with­out spend­ing a dime. The next post in this series will cover pre-planning and light­ing. Check back in a few weeks or sign up for my mail­ing list to receive post updates.

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