Making a How To style video

Videos are all the rage these days. You can barely move without encountering moving images – for better or for worse! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re all filled with little films of varying degrees of quality, humour and cats.

However, I’m going to focus on the How To, or Tutorial style video. This kind of video serves a few different purposes: helping other crafters understand how to do a particular thing; showing non-crafters what kind of work goes into your items; and making people on the internet aware of you and your craft. The latter reason is why I always recommend linking to your website or Etsy shop in the video description.

So how do you make a Tutorial video? Well, I suppose it would depend on what it is you’re showcasing. I’ll focus on a few basics which are applicable to “small” crafts, i.e. things that can be done at a desk or kitchen table. If your craft requires a dedicated workbench or workshop / outside area, you may be better off recruiting someone else to film the video for you. 🙂

Equipment

I use a webcam. A small, normal, relatively cheap thing that I bought online for use with Skype and Google Hangouts. Most webcams will come with video recording software, so play around with that for a bit until you know what you’re doing. The programs aren’t usually very advanced.

You can also use your smartphone; most kinds will have video recording capabilities and you can get apps that will let you edit them if you don’t want to connect up to a computer.

And, of course, you can use an actual video camera. But chances are that if you have one of those, you don’t need that much help from me. 🙂

Space and positioning

First you need to decide on where to film your video. I do all mine at my desk, because it’s where I work normally and I have my computer right there anyway. If you’re using a webcam to record the video, you’ll need to be within a lead’s reach of your computer or laptop. If you’re using your phone or an actual video camera, I’d recommend getting a tripod.

Make sure the space you’re using is clean and uncluttered. You don’t just need enough space to do your craft, but also a clear space to avoid distractions on camera. If you have a lot of stuff lying around, consider putting up “screens” of white paper, monocoloured cloth or similar so that you have an even background. I’d also recommend taking into account what it is you’re showing – if you’re working with red yarn then a white background is excellent, but a blue piece of cloth would be headache inducing!

Positioning of the camera is perhaps the trickiest part of the whole video making process. You need to place it somewhere so that people can see what you’re doing. By trial and error I have figured out that for me it works best to put my camera in an elevated position in front of my chest. That way the viewer gets a first person look at what I’m doing. For other things it may make more sense to have a head-on perspective, or perhaps a birds-eye view. Experiment and see what works for you.

Lighting

I’ll tell you a secret: I know next to nothing about good lighting. What I do know though, and what you’d think would be common sense but most beginners overlook, is that you need good enough light to be able to see what you’re doing clearly on camera.

Daylight is a Good Thing. Daylight lightbulbs can substitute in a pinch. Studio lighting would be the best, but who has that lying around? Just make sure the picture becomes bright enough that your craft is clearly visible.

Recording the video

Another confession from me: I just press “record” and see what happens. I’ve tried writing scripts and I’ve tried doing storyboards, but it just ends up stilted. I’m much more natural on camera if I speak in the moment, however this doesn’t work for everyone.

If you can’t blag it and talk for Britain, write a script. It doesn’t have to be fully written out; perhaps you work better with bullet points or short notes. Make sure you explain what you’re doing in a concise and understandable manner, and include any extra information like what to watch out for, easy mistakes to make and so on.

Of course, you actually have to show all of this being done as well. Do things more slowly than you normally would, so a beginner can follow every step. Explain as you go along. Having both a visual and words to go with it makes the whole thing easier to grasp. Make sure everything you do is visible (this has been one of my downfalls, personally) – that your hands aren’t in the way, that equipment you use is put to the side so it doesn’t obstruct the view, etc. This goes along with the positioning of the camera, and it’s really just trial and error until you find an angle that works.

Editing the video

Once you’ve recorded everything you need, you may have to do some editing. It can be as easy as to put two recordings into one video, or maybe you want to remove one part where you went on a tangent, or perhaps something else is bugging you about the recording. If you have Windows Movie Maker (for Windows) or iMovie (for Mac), this is all easy stuff. I recommend reading some of the how-tos for the software to get the result you want. I don’t know enough about either off the top of my head to give instructions. 🙂

One thing I would definitely suggest is to reduce the size of the video. A lot of video files are massive, and take ages to upload. If you save it as a different file type (I recommend .flv) you can reduce it by a lot. Of course, if you have a super fast connection this may not matter!

Where to upload?

Youtube. 😉 Youtube is a thriving community where loads of people will see your video and it’s easy to both link to and embed onto your own website. It’s also by far the easiest way to upload a video that’s more than 15 seconds (which is the time limit for Instagram). If you have a Google account, you can use that on Youtube. There’s just no excuse not to use it. None!

A few last things

– Remember to introduce yourself and to thank people for watching.
– Include relevant information like type of yarn, size of needle, gauge of wire, etc.
– Speak in a clear voice.
– Try to make sure everything is in focus. It’s easily done to get too close or too far away from the camera so things go blurry.
– Let your personality shine through! You don’t want a bland, boring video. You want one that shows what an interesting person you are.
– Don’t forget to have fun! If you’re not enjoying it, perhaps this kind of video isn’t for you. There are many other ways to get your name out there than Tutorial videos.

Have I forgotten anything? If you have any questions or comments, do leave a comment on this post. I’d also love to see any videos you make as a result of this. 🙂

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This entry was posted by Victoria Sol.
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