Tips For Making Slick Videos, And Nurturing Your Online Community
You’ve come a long way, from catching the Launchpad bug, to getting good at pad-drumming, to programming your first lightshow. There’s still a way to go though, because you need to become familiar with the ins and outs of preparing, filming, finalising and uploading your videos. Here, we take you through some of the important factors in making a great video, growing you YouTube channel and becoming Internet famous.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR FILMING & POST-PRODUCTION
1. Always Use Landscape Mode
This is a rookie mistake, but something that’s too common on YouTube. Portrait mode is great for FaceTiming your family, but terrible for representing performance videos. Always use Landscape mode for your videos — if you’re using a cameraphone, flip it sideways and make sure Landscape mode is engaged before pressing record.
2. Mount Your Camera With An Overhead Perspective
The best vantage point for your lightshow is from overhead, so mount your camera looking down over the Launchpad. You might need some mounting hardware for this, but there are plenty of affordable options, and decent gear can be picked up in electronics stores and online. Angled boom stands for lights are particularly good, as they have an articulating arm that allows you to reach over your work surface, and position the camera squarely over the Launchpad. A phone grip or camera plate will be needed to secure your recording device and allow you to make fine position adjustments.
3. Use Basic Lighting
Most inexpensive cameras give poor results in low light — footage ends up grainy and blurry if you don’t have enough light on your subject. You don’t have to spend much money here — cheap clip-on LED lights are available at most hardware stores, and these allow you to angle the light in different directions. There are even app-controlled lightbulbs, which can be controlled remotely via your smartphone! One tip is to make sure the light sources are same colour temperature. Traditional lightbulbs tend to be on the yellow side of the spectrum, while ‘pure white’ LEDs often have a blue-ish tint. Whatever you use, try to keep the colour consistent, for best results.
4. De-clutter Your Work Surface
Take note of the things in your camera’s frame — make sure everything in shot is meant to be there, and if you have a lot of unsightly clutter on camera, move it or frame it out. This is a good excuse to tidy your workspace!
5. Center Your Performance Equipment In The Frame
Take a few minutes to make sure your camera is facing straight down, and that the Launchpad (and/or other gear in your shot) is dead-center on the screen. This makes for a slick presentation with clean lines.
6. Avoid Vibrations
The last thing you want is a wobbly shot — it will ruin your performance and distract the viewer. Make sure your tripod or camera mount is sturdy, weighed down, and is not in contact with your performance surface.
7. Use Manual Camera Settings
Automatic camera settings are great for shooting in-the-moment things like your friend’s backflip challenge or a passing car chase. But in controlled circumstances, it’s best to override your camera’s guesswork and dial in precise settings to your camera. You can do this on Android cameras by default, and there are Apps available for iOS devices. Most digital cameras will have a manual mode, too. As a general rule of thumb, keep the ISO low and experiment with your shutter speed — too long and it will make your video blurry.
8. Post Production
Although it’s best to get the camera shot as precise and square-on as possible, you can tweak the orientation of your footage in post-production. Use a grid overlay in your editing software and adjust the image to make your Launchpad appear perfectly square. Use caution here, though, because too much manipulation can distort your image.
Further post production tricks can help to reduce reflections from light sources, and lead to a generally more polished result. Check out the end section of this Kaskobi tutorial for more guidance on this.
9. Output Formats
There are countless file formats to choose from when outputting your videos. For YouTube purposes, select a compressed format that uploads to YouTube quickly, so your video appears online as soon as possible. Read up on frame rates and bitrates, so you can ensure your files are optimised for YouTube. Many uncompressed or non-optimised files are still accepted by YouTube, but they will need to be transcoded in the cloud before they go live, and this process can take several hours, depending on the file format, the length of video, and the demand on the YouTube servers. YouTube lists their favoured encoder settings for popular file formats here.
TIPS FOR BECOMING SUCCESSFUL ON YOUTUBE
The final — but arguably most important — step is to grow your YouTube community. Like the rest of the lightshow process, this will take time; you’ll need good content and patience to organically grow your audience.
1. Maximise Engagement
Of course. you want people to recognize you as a competent performer, but there are other markers of success that will help to grow your channel and gain popularity. When ideating your performances, consider engagement, and make sure that your videos are interesting throughout. Keeping viewers tuned to your videos helps to improve your retention rate, and this is good for your YouTube metrics. High retention rates will improve your position in search engine results. Encouraging people to comment on, rate and share your videos also helps — the more engagement you get, the better.
2. Video Length
While you should try to keep your content snappy and concise, YouTube favours longer content. Videos over 5 minutes in length have a better rating on YouTube, and this helps improve your search rank. Before making a video, think about how you add more informative sections that will carry the run time over the five-minute mark.
3. Keywords & Tags
Keywords and Tags are similar but slightly different. Keywords are the words you use in your title, and within the first 25 words of description text. Google scans this text for popular terms, and categorises your video based on what you write. Use tools like the Google Keywords Planner — which requires you to create a Google Adwords account — to discover which keywords are most popular, and which will help your content show up in search traffic.
Tags also influence search results, but they also help to classify the video on the YouTube platform, and link them to other videos with similar content. Unlike Keywords, it’s ok to make your own tags — especially if you’re pioneering a new type of music or performance style. But don’t go overboard, though, it’s common to use around 10-15 tags per video.
4. Crediting Yourself & Collaborators
Take every opportunity to include links to your Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Instagram and any other online platforms you have. It’s also important to credit the artists you remix or cover, and it’s good manners to link to their platforms too.
5. End Cards & Subscribe Links
Gaining subscribers is key to growing your channel. A must-do tactic for this is placing an end card after your video that invites viewers to subscribe to your channel. Some YouTubers let their logo run for a few seconds after the end of the video; others have custom-made ‘subscribe here’ artwork. Avoid flashing subscribe links over the top of the main video content — this can be annoying and distracting. Whatever you decide, the call to action button is easily created in the YouTube back end.
6. Attractive Thumbnails, Headers & Logo
Video thumbnails help to draw people in to your content, so it’s important to make sure they look good and represent the content well. Use images that work well in a small format, and if you’re using text, make sure it is snappy, descriptive and honest. Avoid using clickbait tactics, and don’t oversell your videos — your audience will not respond well if they feel they’re being misled.
Channel banners help to define the style of your platform, so make sure your banners are slick and representative of your content. Work with a graphic designer to create a logo — it will be money well spent! Your logo can be used as a button/watermark on your YouTube videos, so viewers can go straight through to your channel, just by clicking on it.
Social Media is key to boosting the popularity of your videos and channel, and there’s no harm in sharing your content far and wide on numerous platforms. You can post to Twitter and Google+ directly from the YouTube Upload page. However, Facebook doesn’t favour YouTube videos, so if you want to grow your profile on Facebook, upload the same video content to Facebook in addition to YouTube. Your analytics will be in two different places, but you will gain better overall visibility this way.
8. Use Playlists
Once you have enough content on your YouTube channel, you can categorise it into Playlists. Perhaps you have several Launchpad performance videos, some of which are original, some of which are mashups, plus a handful of tutorials and some in-the-studio pieces. Organise your videos into playlists and add each new video to several playlists to increase the potential that they will appear in viewers’ video queues.
You can make money from your YouTube videos! There are several ways to do this, and you can choose how much advertising is associated with your content — if at all. Do you want there to be a skippable pre-roll ad? How about Ad Overlays that can be X’d out of? The choice is yours, and it’s all customisable from the YouTube back end at the time you upload your content.
All that’s left to say is ‘good luck!’ See you on the Internet.