K9keystrokes is one of our community’s strongest Hubbers. In addition to regularly turning out useful masterpieces (often related with our Weekly Topic Inspiration theme), K9keystrokes is participating in our video beta program, testing out our new hosted video feature that will soon be available to all Hubbers.
The video Hubs that K9keystrokes has created so far are fantastic, so we asked her to share some tips and tricks with the rest of us. We hope her excellent advice will inspire you to make some videos of your own soon!
Your video Hubs are a fantastic combination of video and text and photos, and all the information you’ve shared goes really well together. When you’ve started these Hubs, do you already have a plan and layout in mind, or do you kind of wing it?
I guess I would have to say a little of both. When I first created a video for HubPages it had been some time since I had been involved in anything to do with this medium, years in fact. So, I went pretty sparse just to get my feet wet. I chose a more “cottage-rough” style rather than a refined teaching style about clarified butter. This was simply for my own sake and to re-familiarize myself with techniques. No real plan or layout, just a chronological rendition of the topic. Turned out pretty choppy, over edited, and a total mess; but also was a blast to make! The next video, about making Sock Puppets, was more refined and better planned out; still maintaining a chronological take on the subject (which I think is paramount when teaching any subject or project). Having a plan always works best, but sometimes when you are deep within creative thinking, winging it has its advantages. Here’s what I mean; when I watch the raw (unedited) video footage after shooting, the initial plan may not work at all. So, I try to stay open to revisions during editing. When dealing with a video that is built specifically to fit within a written article (hub), flexibility is proving very helpful! But having a plan keeps me on task and within the time frame required.
Two of the video Hubs you’ve created detail specific projects- namely making sock puppets and repairing laminated wood veneer. Did you do those projects to demonstrate things for video Hubs, or did you just turn projects you were already doing into video Hubs?
The two video hubs you mention were done for the sake of making the videos, but served double-duty in terms of projects around the house. The Sock Puppet project was meant to help build interaction between families while having a little fun in doing so. My nieces and nephews come from large families where budgeting is important. The fact that making these adorable creations is dirt cheap was important to me because today, most every family is in this same tight economical position. Nothing wrong with a little cheap and easy homemade fun! The Veneer video was actually derived from rummaging through yard sale stuff and finding an old table that would work great in the house, but had some damage to the veneer top. I researched a few wood working pointers (ummm…I asked my retired Contractor dad) on how to handle laminated surfaces. It worked out great, and fit my needs as well as the Weekly Topic Inspiration on HubPages, which was a real bonus! I must admit, there is a little reenactment during video making, but the projects themselves are real. And, when making videos there is no shame in providing reenactment of a needed process or step if it aides in providing clarity about a task (and hides the fact that you burnt the crud out of your fingers because hot glue is about a thousand degrees in its molten state!).
Have you made many videos before?
I was involved with making videos for many years, primarily from a producer or directorial position. I lead a team who made everything from Solar Energy Commercials, to Music videos. But, having to push all of the buttons and do all of the actual “work” myself is something new. Managing linear production editing has always been something left for others far more savvy than myself. Doing it all on my own, would have never even crossed my mind. Having the chance to learn to develop the projects from shot to finish, for the sake of articles on HubPages, has been wonderful and a surprisingly easy transition. I think most folks will find videos easy to master and a fun addition to any Online article. I am in no way trying to say I am a master in the realm of video editing, because this is just not the case. I had to learn the process for myself (and am still learning). I was scared out of my wits at first and had little know-how for the process. But, by just doing it, video making has become a joy. Know that I asked questions at any turn that I wasn’t certain about (Thank you HP team), and read up on modern techniques. As much as I hate to admit, it has been beneficial to step outside of my comfort zone. I miss those brilliant editing and video teams who made all of it so much fun back then. But, I find an intense satisfactions from being able to it all for myself today. If you have a chance to make videos with people you delight in being around, you should do it! It is just plain fun!! Yet, doing it all for yourself, brings its own kind of fun and sense of accomplishment.
Do you follow any particular process when creating video Hubs?
I do my own process for creating video hubs. Once I decide on the project or topic and what the video has to convey, I configure a time line, shooting everything (as much as possible) in the natural order of occurrence. I find this pays off BIG when doing the actual editing. As each segment of the video is set up, I am also thinking about which “still shots” will be most helpful in the body of the hub (and within the same time line). This is because each video has to also offer a written format and still images. It is easier to take the still shots as I go through the process so I don’t have as much to reproduce later. In my humble opinion, this gives each reader more than one style to learn from. Still images, written directions/information, moving video, and in some cases audio. Everyone learns best in their own way, so I try to provide as many learning tools within the topic as I can. This method also keeps readers on my page even if they don’t have the band width to accommodate videos, because it still provides the project information, and on occasion more detailed information.
What sort of camera do you shoot with? What editing program do you use?
I shoot with an older Sony Digital 8 Handycam video camera, and a Fuji S2 Pro digital Photography camera for the stills. I can capture stills with the Sony, but I prefer to shoot them with the Fuji for personal reasons. I download the video footage direct from the digital device to the editing software using an USB cable, which is as easy as plugging it into my PC. The editing program I use (no laughing now) is Windows Movie Maker. It is the free program that came with my laptop PC. My Mac took a turn for the worst so learning to edit with my PC has been a cherished lesson. It is so simple to use, and does just enough to keep me from over editing and under producing, which is the downfall of many new video makers! I also produce PhotoShop still images for each video from the still shots taken with the Fuji S2. Creating my own titles and directions in a step by step manner offers a polished look to the production. And most image editing software provides a wide range of options. Once a title shot or instruction image is done, I simply import the picture to the collections section (video clips) of Movie Maker and slip it into the video according to the time line, using a simple click and drag action. I also use these same instructional stills within the body of the written article which provides a coordinated eye-appeal to the viewer, while teaching the same methods with the still PhotoShopped images as found in the video. For me anyway, it makes a bigger impact when everything looks similar and appears to belong together. I take pride in how hubs look and feel. If it’s worth putting in my published hub collection, it’s worth doing right.
What has inspired the video Hubs you’ve made so far?
The videos so far are totally inspired by my need to learn something new, and the desire to share something I know. I rarely do anything without a reason or meaning, even those things as simple as commenting on a hub I have read, or engaging in conversations in the forums. It is all very real to me, and matters. If it didn’t I just wouldn’t bother with it. This is not from a viewpoint of smugness, but rather from a place where I am old enough to know that, if I am not having fun or can not find appreciation for what I am doing, why should anyone else? And so far, making videos and writing within the HubPages community has provided real significant meaning, and I find myself appreciating this daily. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! So, in a nutshell, my inspiration comes from NOT wanting to let the community or myself down; thus providing high quality written as well as video content is an imperative.
Bonus Tips from K9keystrokes:
A. When first editing videos it is really important to know when “enough is enough”. Transitions are fun to use, but really easy to overuse. My suggestion would be to find a transition that moves smoothly into the next segment of your video and stick with it throughout that video (I like the feel of a “fade” transition). Adding in “punctuation” transitions is fine, but judiciously. Too many obscure transitions can be distracting to the viewer. So, unless you are trying to make something really bizarre and intense, keep transitions subtle and easy to process for the viewer.
B. If you hand hold your video camera remember that when you zoom-in “tight” on something, every tiny movement gets exaggerated greatly. It can even make some folks a little motion sick. Try using a tripod when you have to zoom-in on your shot, this makes for a far more steady and appealing close up.
C. Shoot from different levels. What I mean is take footage from more than one position, i.e., a standing potion, a sitting position, and even a laying down prone position. These different camera angles add interesting components to your video. But, as with editing transitions, use them judiciously.
D. My favorite bit of advice for new video makers is “let your camera do the work” it is made to do. Use auto mode for lighting and focusing. This allows you to considerate on getting the shot framed just how you want it to be around your subject, without the worry of what exposure and aperture to use.
E. Today’s search engine user has a pretty short attention span, usually wanting to get in, get the information, and get out. Even as video can keep viewers on your page longer (simply by its design) keeping videos a reasonable length will also keep these same users coming back. So, edit out as much of the extraneous footage as you can, without damaging the integrity of the video you are creating.
F. Above all things, make sure you are having fun! If you’re not enjoying what you do, why should anyone else? Now go shoot some videos!