We get asked all the time about how we shoot our videos. So we’ve put together a getting started checklist. These are just a few tips that we regularly share with people who ask how to shoot a video. Some are simple and obvious, others we learned from experience. In any case, we hope some of these tips are helpful to you when you get started shooting how-to videos.
Video Checklist: Get Started Shooting Your Own How-To Videos
1. Use an outline instead of a script.
Start with your written how-to for the project. Think about it in terms of shots. Are there certain things that make sense all in one shot? Are there some steps that use completely different materials than the previous step?
Divide your how-to into an outline and use this as your shot list. You may need to script an introduction and a closer for your video, but while you are doing your project, just be natural and do not use a script. You know how to do the craft, just do it and explain what you are doing as you do it!
2. Create a stage for your videos.
Decide where you are going to shoot and think about how the shot will look. If you are crafting on a table, consider the color of the background compared with the materials you are using. If you are going to appear on camera, think about what will be in the shot behind you. Consider creating a background that emphasizes who you are and what your videos are about.
3. Set up the camera.
Decide what point of view would show your how-to best and set up the tripod and camera. You might do overhead on a boom arm, over the shoulder, or straight on from the front. Once you have the camera set up, look at the shot. Be aware while you are doing your project what areas are going to be in the shot and what is off camera.
If you are shooting a project on a table, consider marking the table with chalk or masking tape just outside the camera view so you can stay centered in the shot.
4. Think about sound.
If you have an external microphone set it up and turn it on.
Make sure it is plugged into the camera to record. You can also record directly with your camera or phone. In any case, create a quiet space to shoot your video. Turn off the AC, close the windows, put your phone and computer on mute, kick out the cats, and make your space as quiet as possible.
5. Light the scene.
If you have a light kit with lights on stands, bring them in and light the scene evenly. If you don’t have a light kit, bring in shaded floor lamps from other rooms. Wave your hand around the area where you will be crafting and see what the shadows look like. If you have an over head ceiling light, try turning it off and see if it improves the shadows. Try not to use direct light without a shade or soft box. Direct light can wash out color and flatten the scene.
Once your set up is lit, you can focus the camera on the scene. We recommend that you always do a test shot. Press record, take your place, move your hands and speak like you will for the video. Replay the test shot, preferably on a computer. Look at the focus, look at the color, look at the light and shadows. Make adjustments until you get a test shot that looks good. And don’t forget to listen to the sound.
6. Take your time to do the craft.
Don’t worry if it is slow. You can always edit some of the crafting out if it is repetitive, but the action on screen is easier to learn from if you do it at a natural pace. There’s something mesmerizing about watching crafts, anyway, and people won’t notice that it’s slow. Plus it gives you time to share more tips and tricks.
And finally have fun!
Be excited! Get your energy up! If you are shooting alone, it may feel strange to speak out loud and talk with some enthusiasm, but you’ll get used to it. It will give your video life! It helps to picture your viewer and talk directly to them. Picture they are there with you and you are all having fun!
For a printable PDF of this checklist, click here.
For a list of the equipment we use to shoot our videos, click here.
This is just a quick overview, but we hope it helps you in some way. If you have any comments or questions, leave us a comment and we’ll reply. We are happy to help!
Jennifer & Kitty