I'm a bit late writing this, but life happens. I've been busy preparing for my part in my brother's wedding that takes place this weekend.
I definitely feel like I'm making progress in tightening up my videos and making them more engaging. It's slowly becoming less and less a stream-of-consciousness deal and (slightly) more produced. I feel OK with this, as I already have a podcast with that creative philosophy. I feel the need to have a free-flowing content platform is being met, so giving this channel a narrower scope makes sense.
So I've taken to create a more drilled-down outline and separating each point while I record. I find that I'm able to give the details a little more focus, and hopefully make each one more engaging. The only aspects of it that are fully scripted are the intro & outro, the rest of it is still pretty off-the-cuff. I'm still not quite sure where that balance lies.
I'm going to start a live streaming series called Ryan Learns to Code, in which I go through a tutorial on a language or framework & build something. I'm not sure how often I'll do it, but I've gotten more views on a live stream test than most of my videos. I think doing regular live streams would foster more community growth, so we'll see how that goes.
You can find my Freelance Journey Vlog Series here.
In terms of the actual production, I treated this like a travel vlog, in that I did intro -> b-roll -> short update -> b-roll -> summary. This was my first hackathon, so I wasn't sure what kind of format to go with. So I went with one that allowed me the most flexibility. Now that I've been through it & generally know what to expect, I would probably go with the same format, but I can't say that I won't go with something different.
I was also really caught-up in the event, and being a newbie to the community, I didn't want to burn bridges with the other developers before I had a chance to build them. Even while I was there, I thought of better b-roll shots than what I took, but they would require more equipment than I felt other people would be comfortable with. Even though vlogs are more commonplace now, and less people are weirded-out by others documenting their experiences, a lot of people aren't comfortable with someone else posting their faces and/or voice on the Internet. As I get more & more integrated with the developer community, my approach to vlogging at a hackathon may change.
You can watch the vlog on my YouTube channel here.
With this one, I felt like I made some progress toward a tighter presentation. I still have my "um's" and some spots where I have a thinking pause, but I've started a couple mitigating techniques. I've started using an outline for each video. I've progressed beyond the "can I do this regularly" stage, and now I'm at the point of coming up with a plan that still maintains a degree of "I'm making this up as I go along."
For me, it's important that I keep an off-the-cuff, stream-of-conciousness aspect to what I produce. So much of the media that we consume is so produced that it doesn't come off as authentic, it has this "approved by executives in suits" stink to it. I think that's part of what's so screwed up in the U.S., so many people are alienated & stigmatized as a result of how ideas are presented in the mainstream media. That's why I'm grateful that YouTube exists, it allows for this nuanced & authentic expression and is closer to a meritocracy.
I definitely started this vlog series with a live-to-tape philosophy, which has worked well for the podcast, but this is a different medium. So I'm working on finding a balance between scripted content & off-the-cuff, because there's definitely merit to both.
You can find my Freelance Journey Vlog Series right here.
I produced this concurrently with the "How I Got Started Vlogging" video, so it's difficult to distinguish which lessons are isolated to this particular video. As I mention in this video, YouTube will be my primary content distribution platform going forward. I'm at the point where I'm ready to move beyond press-record-then-talk-then-stop-recording. It takes more than that to create an engaging video that holds people's attention.
I'm seeing the spots where I need some structure to bring people in & say "hey, this is what this video series is about," as opposed to just record & upload it without considering how a new person may see it. That's not to say that I can't be off-the-cuff in some aspects of producing the content, but I have to be more purposeful in how it's used. While people are looking for more authenticity, having a structure does make it a bit more digestible. Every comic is somebody's first comic.
I also need to work on my wrap-up to make it integrate with the end cards better, especially when it comes to timing. I'm sure there are other tweaks that will help in discoverability, sharing, and engagement, but that's more about working within best practices of the platform. I have a feeling that I still need to work on making the content itself more engaging, which would be applicable regardless of how the platform operated.
You can find the entire series here.
I've noticed a few things in the short time that I've started vlogging.
I, like many people, am self-conscious when it comes to talking to a camera. It took a few years of doing a podcast to work through my self-consciousness over just my voice being recorded. I started recording videos of me talking to myself while walking in a park in January of this year. I used my previous smartphone and pointed it up while holding it around stomach level. It's not the most flattering shot, but it was enough to get past the "talking when being video-taped" part. By the way, none of those videos will be available online, I'm not sure if they're appropriate for even private viewing.
When I noticed myself getting excited to do it, I purchased a small handheld tripod that would allow me to shoot at eye-level with little difficulty. I was at the point where I could start incorporating shot composition into my process without causing me to go into a panic.
I recently made a purchase to upgrade to a nicer camera, which also has image stabilization. It's definitely not Steadicam-level stable, heck, even consumer-level handheld gimbals give a smoother picture, but it's an improvement over the smartphone. There are other pain points behind making the purchase, but I won't go into the details.
Just in the time that I've been posting these on Vimeo, I've been making less & less cuts. I'm sure there's more than one factor, but I am feeling more & more comfortable in front of the camera, hopefully that comes through on the other end. In the vlog that I recorded last Friday, I continued to talk as people walked by me. In previous videos, I pause & wait for them to pass before resuming.
I think doing the travel vlog on the Denver Light Rail had a lot to do with that. As I went through that process, I noticed how little everyone actually cared. They may have looked at me for a second or two, but then went on with whatever they were doing. I noticed that my thought process as I started felt really familiar; I did the same thing when cosplaying at Denver Comic Con, and I've done that quite a bit. So that taught me that I can work through this as well.
Definitely some exciting chapters up ahead!
I'm Ryan, a freelance content creator & web developer from Colorado.