Points in Focus Photography




Hi and welcome back.

This time, I’m going to circle back to my musings on shooting and presenting video. Specifically, I want to talk about preparation.

I think I first really started approaching in the importance of preparation when presenting content back when I was trying to do a regular podcast. And I learned this the hard way, by not being prepared.

That said, I’ve also found that preparation is a bit of a double edged sword.

There’s the obvious advantage, in that, well, you’re prepared for whatever it is you’re about to do or talk about. This helps eliminate the “ums”, “uhhs” and “likes” from your speech. And generally helps you be more coherent and to the point.

The flip side, however, is that it’s not hard to use preparation as an excuse. Either because you feel you need to be perfect, and so you spend too much time preparing, or that you don’t feel you’re prepared enough and put off doing what ever you were trying to do.

In this case, it doesn’t even have to be preparation in the sense of preparing a script or doing research either.

I’ve said for a while that part of the reason I’m doing these vlogs is to learn and practice more sophisticated technical in video production. Part of that is that I’m trying to produce a couple of substantially more complicated videos with a fairly technical script intercut with a and b roll footage.

Granted, these vlogs don’t specifically address the issues that I don’t feel I’m prepared for, but they are addressing a lot of the other day to day stuff that I wasn’t that comfortable with either.

Ultimately though, I see this as real preparation for those videos for two reasons. First, they’re making the problem more tractable for me. I’m getting down the simple stuff in these videos, so I’m not worried about that in addition to the more complex stuff

Secondly, I’m actually moving forward now, and I’m not using my felt lack of preparation as an excuse for not even getting started.

So with that said, let’s talk a bit about preparation.

I’m certainly not an expert on this, but I have picked up a couple of things along the way. One of those things is that you need to find what works best for you.

I spoke in a previous video about how I’m writing all these vlogs as scripted videos. Most of the reason I’m doing that is because I find I can think more clearly about what I’m saying when I’m writing it as opposed to when I’m speaking to camera.

I have the freedom on my computer to move thoughts around and reorganize them into something that flows better and makes more sense. Sure, in some ways I could do this in post production, but it would be substantially more jarring, and it’s definitely more work.

So what can you do to prepare?

On the presentation side of things, obviously one option is to write a script.

That said, this is a bit of a skill itself too. You can find guides, but the key points I found to remember its hat you’re not writing a PhD thesis.

A lot of guides, will tell you to speak aloud as you’re writing. I don’t speak aloud, but I do say in my head what I’m wiring as I write it. Either way, the intent is to be aware of how what you’re writing sounds when spoken.

The other big advantage for me in working from a script is that I’m working alone. I don’t have a camera operator and a sound guy to handle all that stuff. Of course flying solo is the norm for most vloggers anyway. That said, when I’m worrying about the camera and the sound, and all the other stuff, there’s a lot going on. Not having to worry about what I’m going to say helps reduce the number of things I have to try to keep track of when shooting.

Okay, so what about working more extemporaneously?

So far it seems like one of the biggest points here comes down to getting comfortable in front of the camera. At least that seems to be the case for me.

In normal conversation I speak fairly well. I don’t say uhh a lot, and I can work though my thoughts in a coherent and straight forward manner. However, when I’m in front of the camera, all that kind of goes out the window.

Granted, this isn’t a problem for everyone. However, I think part of my problem stems from my desire to be respectful of my viewer’s time. I’ve said this before, but I feel that video demands a much higher level of attention from the viewer than other media; like print, or even podcasts. As a result, I don’t want to ramble and be all over the place. In a normal conversation, I find that the interaction with the other people I’m speaking with, tends to keep me on track, but that’s not there with a camera.

With that in mind, I still think preparation is the key. Write yourself notes that cover various key points, especially if there are important and intricate facts or data points you need to hit.

That said, I’ve tried several techniques for this; from notes on paper, to keynote or power point presentations running on a computer I can see.

While this has helped me, I’ve still run into some issues.

In some ways, the biggest of these issues is that a powerpoint presentation isn’t quite as thought free as a script. What I found would happen is that if I wasn’t intimately familiar with the order and extent of my slides, I would start fumbling around wondering where a given point would be. With a script, that’s all taken care of in the writing process, and I just have to worry about delivering it.

Of course, preparation extends well beyond just the presentation aspect. If you’re doing something more complex, with b-roll footage or multiple scenes, you’ll really need to focus on the preparation.

Remember, good video not only tells a coherent story, but it does so efficiently. The content and the presentation matters, and pacing, composition, and editing are important.

That said, I’m not saying you have to completely understand every aspect of that stuff. But as part of your preparation for your video, you should be thinking about how you’re going to pace and cut scenes if there are any.

You may want to go as far as full on story boarding. Even if you’re like me, and can’t draw, roughly sketching out what you’re thinking about shooting can certainly help. However, even if you don’t want to go that far, it’s not a bad idea to write down what you’re trying to accomplish and the shots that you think you might want to do to get there.

As I keep saying, I’m not an expert at this stuff. This is what I’ve found works and is worth knowing as I’ve been doing this. When it comes to preparation, I’ve found it dramatically improves my productivity. For many of these vlogs at this point, I’m able to shoot them in 1 take, or in the worst case 2. More importantly, the need for editing is limited to syncing the audio, trimming the heads and tails from the source clips, tweaking a few things, like audio and color, and the files are largely ready to export and upload. This is a far cry from the hour plus I would have to spend on my old podcasts trying to cut out the unnecessary dead air and excessive uhhs and ums.

Anyway, I hope this was useful for those of you who are trying to get started. If that was the case, please smash he like button and subscribe. If not, well, you already know what to do.

For more in-depth written articles on photography, travel, and camera gear, please visit my website at www.pointsinfocus.com.

Also you can find me on twitter, @pointsinfocus.

Thanks for watching.


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