YouTube is awash with people uploading their VLOGS, creating armies of followers/subscribers and helping to monetize their channels. So what is vlogging? It’s just like blogging but instead of a stream of printed words, they are creating personal videos on a wide number of subjects. Some offer a stream of tutorials on everything from DIY home-improvement to rebuilding automobile engines. Others share an endless number of product reviews (cameras and computer gadgets seem to be very popular). Some spout their political views or life philosophies while others entertain with images taken from exotic locales around the globe as they travel, essentially bringing their vacation videos to the masses.
Whatever the subject matter, vlogging is a great way to create a community around a subject and share information. If a picture says a thousand words, a video speaks millions. Some things just need to be seen IN ACTION to fully understand. A picture of a piston engine standing still cannot begin to illustrate how it works, whereas a video of the piston moving with the valves opening and closing, and the crankshaft rotating can help someone understand the intricate dance that is the internal combustion engine.
Vlogging doesn’t necessarily require fancy expensive equipment; there are many who do it with nothing more than the webcam built-in to their laptop or tablet. But a quality vlog typically has higher production values and may utilize a dedicated video camera on a tripod, some proper lights and perhaps a lavalier or desktop microphone for better quality audio (the bastard stepchild of most video productions).
It doesn’t have to be a large expense and to be sure the subject matter is all-important; as they say, content is king. But if you want to stand out above the noise floor you should probably invest in some dedicated gear and learn some production values to give your videos that professional touch.
First and foremost is lighting because quality video demands ample light. Video cameras do not see as well as our own eyes and what may be perfectly viewable by you may be a bit dim to the camera. there are MANY ways to create light on the cheap so don’t think you have to go out and buy expensive dedicated video lights. I have used cheap clip-on work lights from Home Depot loaded with daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs and been wholly satisfied with the results. Even a bright dining room chandelier could be all you need. Of course, if you are outside during the day your problem is solved for the most part, but you STILL may benefit from a dedicated lamp aimed at the subject. Quality lighting is easy to acquire these days without breaking the bank so don’t skip over it.
Secondly is audio. A webcam mic cannot adequately capture good audio – it may be good enough for a skype session but to a viewer watching your video it will be punishing. Invest in a good handheld or lapel mic if you want your voice to sound more “natural” to your audience. If you are filming more than one subject you may wish to deploy multiple mics on all of the talent or have a boom mic operator following the action. Of course, this may complicate things a bit (you may need a mixer, wireless systems, phantom power supplies, balance transformers and more depending on the situation, not to mention the extra human.) The bottom line is that the sound is just as important as the picture so don’t overlook this vital component of good production.
Finally, try to use at LEAST 2 cameras, preferably 3 or more, and cut between them frequently to offer multiple views to the audience. A single static straight-on shot gets very old very quickly and will punish your audience and test their patience. It may suffice for a very short clip (under 1 minute) but for anything longer than that it grows tiresome VERY quickly. If nothing else, cut away to b-roll footage or a graphic from time to time to break up the monotony. Multiple camera angles are a staple of good video productions. When is the last time you watched something shot from a single viewpoint (home movies don’t count)? With low-cost HD cameras abounding, there is no excuse to wing it with your single unit. Even your smart phone can usually be put to use in a pinch; just make sure there is ample light (see above).
So there you have it. If you have a great subject that you are passionate about, why not share your passion with a wider audience? Get yourself a couple of cameras, a few lights and a microphone and begin vlogging today. You may find yourself part of a growing phenomenon that is helping to educate the masses and that, as Martha says, is a good thing.