Teach me how to video
January 20, 2014 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I want to make videos that don't look like crap for my college radio station's YouTube account. I have a DSLR and some lenses. And a tripod. Walk me through it like I'm five years old.

I have a Canon T4i, a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8, a Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II, a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS I, and the aforementioned tripod (but it was designed for photography). I don't want to buy a camcorder, but I'm happy to hear suggestions for other sorts of equipment or software if you have them.

I'm looking for tutorials, instructional videos, tips, and other helpful stuff like that aimed at beginners. I tried Googling, but it was too much and I got overwhelmed by all the gearheads. Help?
posted by topoisomerase to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If the goal is "don't look like crap" the best value for the effort is probably lighting.

Vimeo video school could be a good beginner source for lighting tutorials.

Second, consider the composition and framing. Look up the "rule of thirds" if that's not a familiar phrase. Compare video you've shot with video you think looks better and consider how it's different. Could you bring the camera in closer? Is the background too cluttered?
posted by RobotHero at 2:06 PM on January 20, 2014

If you are making something with people in it and more than one scene, the 180 degree rule is a good one
posted by aubilenon at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2014

Okay, just to clarify, I have taken photography courses and know about things like composition and framing. I am looking for video-specific advice, as I have never done video before and don't know where to start.
posted by topoisomerase at 2:50 PM on January 20, 2014

Learn about white balance, and learn to set it correctly. There is nothing that screams "amateur" more than a video with bad color.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2014

Photography should give you a good basis for making it not look like crap. There's a reason why the first things I thought of were lighting and composition. Lighting is a little different since you can't use flash, but the basic principles behind it are the same.

1) Remember you can't turn the camera sideways. I'm sorry if it sounds obvious, but I have seen photographers doing video for the first time forget this while shooting.
2) You said specifically make it not look like crap, but a lot of people overlook the importance of not sounding like crap, so make sure you address that. Since it's for a radio station, I expect you or someone you know has the technical capability, but I just needed to get that out there.
3) One potential hiccup is screwing up your frame-rate. If you're shooting 24p, double-check when you're editing, you use 24p, make sure you export 24p, every step of the way. From this it tells me your camera does different frame rates, and all are progressive scan. Progressive is the opposite of interlaced, so don't use any settings that say interlaced. Remember NTSC and PAL have different standard frame-rates, so again make sure you use the same of those all the way through. When that review says that 24p uses 1/30s for shutter speed, the shutter speed is only affecting the exposure time, that shouldn't change any settings in the editing software.
4) Then consider video compression. That review says it uses H264 which is decent quality and is widely supported by editing software. When exporting, use H264 again, Youtube accepts that handily.
posted by RobotHero at 3:36 PM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The most important thing is, as RobotHero said, to make sure that it doesn't sound like crap. Use a separate microphone or audio recorder for all of the audio.

If you're not sure what good audio is supposed to sound like, put on some headphones and listen to this song.

It's the difference between seconds :35-:50, which they clearly recorded with the camera's crappy built in mic, and the subsequent song, which they recorded--as they should have--in a studio.
posted by tooloudinhere at 4:08 PM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

My best advice would be, if you want to look professional, don't try to imitate complex film and TV styles. You have a unique setting which is a radio station. Look at other radio-to-TV shows. What angles do they use? How do they use the studio to get extra video marerial? Use what you have instead of trying to create worlds that don't exist, that's where your lack of budget and expertise is going to show the most.

Have separate people do camera and sound, and a third person direct. Make sure 100% that you are recording before you call action. The camera person should say "camera speed" when his camera is recording. Sound should say "sound speed" and should be wearing headphones to ensure the sound is recording. Then and only then call action. Also batteries, batteries, batteries, batteries.

Wait to move on to the next shot until you're 500% sure you got what you need.
posted by hamsterdam at 8:06 PM on January 20, 2014

Make it easy to avoid jarring cuts while editing by filming some closeups and longshots to mix in. And don't be boring by showing too much - some examples to learn from - the build videos by Frank Howarth are great examples, and the "reality" style videos in the Roadkill series, the text over or voice over montage may be cliched, but are much better than someone talking at the camera.
posted by 445supermag at 10:21 PM on January 20, 2014

I'm a veteran of a few million YouTube views.

1) You don't need a video camera or to add anything else to your kit except:

2) Lighting. Have some. Googling "DIY video lighting" will inform you of how to acquire it on any budget and how to use it. (Specifically 3 point lighting.)

3) Editing: Do it. As much as you have time for. Nothing ruins a passable YouTube vid as much as not cutting it down to the necessary bits. Literally any editing is better than none, even the basic cutting built into the camera. But spending some time learning a professional editing suite will pay off quickly.

4) Audio: You're a radio station. Take the audio straight of of the mixing board, not off the camera. If necessary record them separately and sync the off-camera audio when editing. It will sound infinitely better.
posted by Ookseer at 11:39 PM on January 20, 2014

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