A few weeks ago I had to travel for the entire week for work. This trip included multiple cities, multiple hotels, multiple airports. Knowing it was going to be a long week, I wanted to find a way to make it a little more bearable and find a way to document the trip. Enter the vlog.
I don’t see this as being a recurring thing. I’m more into reviewing technology and hope to create some tech videos. I did see this as a challenge though and even though I failed to vlog quite miserably (see above), there are some things I learned and wanted to talk about.
1. Vlogging is hard
You have to be very intentional about vlogging. One of the main things I noticed is that you always have to be “on” if you’re vlogging, meaning you always need to be aware of your surroundings and know when to record and what to record. You’re always thinking about the next shot and while that might be an aspect frequent vloggers appreciate, I found it kind of draining.
As I went throughout the week, I always noticed that some of the shots I thought would have been cool to include in the video came at times where I wasn’t ready or didn’t have the tools I needed to record a shot. While the only tools I had were a Joby Gorilla Pod and my iPhone, there were instances, like going to dinner, where I didn’t want to carry the Gorilla Pod. But, during that short window of time, I could not stop thinking and seeing different shots that would have been a good addition to the vlog. It was kind of frustrating, but I had to accept that I wouldn’t be able to capture everything.
2. You don’t need much
One of the reasons I never followed through with this blog or making videos was because I was waiting to get the right tools and equipment.
I never started the blog because I didn’t have a domain name and didn’t (still don’t, really) have the skills to create the website I want. Turns out you don’t need that and can start off with a basic WordPress site (ta-da). I do have a domain name, but I’ll get around to making my own site when I get to it. Right now I’m just focusing on actually writing.
I never shot videos because I didn’t have a camera. If you look at some of the biggest vloggers on YouTube (a la Casey Neistat), they have pretty expensive gear. Well, it turns out you don’t need a $700 camera to record a video (your phone is pretty good and probably more expensive) and you don’t need $300 video editing software to make a video. My vlog was filmed on an iPhone and edited in iMovie. Of course, you get more options if you invest in good equipment and editing software. However, better equipment and better software do not immediately make you a better content creator. That takes practice.
3. You should have a workflow
Having done this never and having zero experience filming/editing vlogs, I didn’t really have a workflow. And, like everything in life, you realize how important things are when you don’t have them.
Since I shot everything on my iPhone, I needed to find a way to get that footage onto my computer. Since I’m editing on a Mac and was using iMovie, it was pretty simple to import the footage. But, I didn’t have my Mac until the weekend, which meant I couldn’t really do anything with the footage I had taken. Although I had ideas of how the video would progress, I could not find a way to get that into some sort of workflow.
I also had no idea how to structure all the files I wanted to use for my video on my computer. I just created a folder and dumped all the files in there. I wasn’t creating a motion picture, but I’m sure had I taken a bit more time properly organize my footage, the editing process and selecting clips would have been a lot faster. While this doesn’t really make an impact on me, I can see how time savings like this would be valuable for someone who is doing this much more frequently.
4. It feels weird, but people are more receptive to it than you think
Don’t take that observation and start sticking a camera in people’s face, though. My initial impression when vlogging first got popular was that it’s awkward to film yourself in public and it’s awkward for the people around you. That perception has changed… somewhat.
As I walked around with my phone recording, sometimes people would ask what I’m doing. When I told them that I was making YouTube videos, they thought it was pretty cool and engaged in conversation and ask me questions about it. Other people just flat out didn’t care. I’m sure there are more nuances about filming in public that I didn’t get a chance to experience, but I was surprised at (a) how much people were interested in what I was doing and (b) how much people didn’t care. Which finally got me to realize, if people don’t care, then there’s no reason to be self-conscious about it.