Below are step-by-step instructions, detailing exactly how I made this #video for my latest project, Streaker’s Journal:
There are a zillion ways to do things, so please don’t feel limited by my approach or choices — this is just one way of making a video.
What to say
This may be the most difficult part of any video or presentation.
Finding just the right words, that are authentic and compelling, is an under-appreciated art.
Invest lots of time and resources here, upfront — it’s the foundation for everything else.
Often, it’s most engaging and effective to convey ideas through stories (essentially, a character who desperately wants something and must overcome difficult obstacles to try to achieve it).
This video is somewhat story-based, but certainly not a pure story.
At 3 minutes and 53 seconds, the video is longer than I wanted it to be, but it’s exactly as long as I think it needs to be.
Rater than cut deeply into the message, I was emboldened to keep the longer duration by The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook (affiliate Amazon link).
Author Joseph Sugarman insists that lengthy-but-interesting content is perfectly fine.
Once I had a first draft of the words, I practiced them out loud several times, because I find some things I write sound unnatural when spoken. It took several few days of editing and rewriting to arrive at a final version.
I decided early on that I didn’t want to be a talking head, just speaking directly into a camera. Some of these turn out great, but it didn’t feel right for this.
Instead, I decided to record my voice (no video — just audio).
I have access to audio recording equipment, but it’s not necessary — with a bit of research and effort, you can make a perfectly good audio recording using your phone. I’m not an expert, but a quick search will reveal plenty of good info, including Popular Science, iMore, and Cult of Mac.
When recording, find somewhere quiet and get comfortable. Stretch and move around, to build your energy. Practice out loud a few times, then let ‘er rip.
Tip: once everything’s set up, record a few lines and then listen to them with headphones, to make sure everything is clear and that you’re not too loud or quiet.
Consider standing while you record, which often makes for better, more energetic sound.
If you make a mistake while recording, just go back to the beginning of that section and resume speaking. The reason for going back a few sentences is so that later on, while editing, you’ll be “up to speed” when redoing what you didn’t like, and both “takes” can be edited together easily.
Consider doing a few extra takes, just to be sure you have good, clean recordings. A dog barking in the background, at a pivotal moment, might ruin an otherwise great video.
As soon as possible, make a backup copy of your recording and store it elsewhere.
This may not be the best approach for your project, but I wanted to get a final “locked” edit of the audio text, before anything else.
There are plenty of editing software programs that work well and are inexpensive or free. I have Apple’s Final Cut Pro X already, so I used that.
Most editing software is similar and not difficult to learn. What’s extremely difficult is developing an eye and ear to create engaging and effective content.
This is beyond the scope of this article, but I suggest taking online courses and reading books and articles by people whose work you admire (for example, I took a course on storytelling and directing taught by Ron Howard).
Also helpful is a great media diet — read, watch and listen to content created by the most masterful creators in the world.
NPR, for example, gives hundreds of examples a day of clear, succinct, and carefully-worded content.
The right music can have a powerful impact on your video, making it much more compelling and emotional.
As you probably know, you can’t legally drop your favorite song into the background of your video, even though you paid whopping $1.29 for it on iTunes. I’m certainly not an attorney, but this Legal FAQ on Vimeo is a good resource to learn copyright basics.
I spent countless hours on PremiumBeat, a service that helps creators discover and properly license music, searching for affordable, high-quality music that fit exactly with the tone and message I wanted.
The cost was $49, which strikes me as perfectly reasonable — the artist gets paid, the service gets paid, I get to use Mr. MacDonald’s wonderful creation, and everyone who watches my video has a better experience.
As you can see on the screenshot below, the song is only 2 minutes and 27 seconds, which is much less than my video.
To address this, I imported the (properly licensed) music audio file in my editing software program, matched it up against the audio of the text I recorded earlier.
It took a long time, but I found exactly where to cut the music audio file, make a duplicate of part of that file, then paste the duplicate into the middle of the original music file. Part of what makes this very difficult is matching the beat of the cut with the beat of the newly duplicated segment.
Film video is usually broken down into about 24 “frames” per second. As you can see above, the tempo of this song is 185 BPM (beats per minute), which is 3.0833 beats per second.
It can be very tedious, but worthwhile. My only advice is to keep trying until you get it right — otherwise, it will feel “off” to people who watch your video.
Images (Make It Visual)
All are verified as free for commercial use, without any attribution required.
It was incredibly time-consuming to search through all the possibilities and choose images and videos, but it was time well spent. Slacking off here would have resulted in a dramatically less effective video.
For an example of footage I used, compare the “Plantation Of Lavender Flowers · Free Stock Video” from Pexels with an edited version of this footage at 1:48 in the Streaker’s Journal video below.
As you’ll see, I used the editing tools in FCPX to zoom-in, showing only a certain portion of what the creator, Varun Ish Nand, originally captured.
Also, I wanted the rows to represent the “negative patterns” described in the audio, but the original footage was too beautiful and vibrant, so I used FCPX editing tools to make it much darker.
There are a few photos depicting me, which were all taken on an iPhone 7 or 8, without any special equipment or apps. Editing of these images was done using the basic tools provided free, along with Apple Photos software.
For online image editing, consider the free tools provided by Fotor.com (not an affiliate link).
I designed logos and certain other graphics in either Adobe Illustrator or Apple Motion. If you don’t know how to use these, it’s easy to search and find capable and trustworthy people on various web marketplaces, or in your local area.
Well, that’s all I can think of. I hope it’s helpful and encouraging — with time and effort, you can make an inexpensive video.
If you don’t have time or you need help, I’m available for hire.
P.S. Maybe YOU should try streaking???
Streaker’s Journal: Focus on what matters and make progress every day!