How to step up your vlogging game and film yourself professionally

Sep 28, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to step up your vlogging game and film yourself professionally

Sep 28, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Filming yourself presents a lot of challenges. Anybody who’s tried to vlog with a DSLR or mirrorless camera will tell you that. There are a few challenges to overcome from nailing your framing and exposure to adding movement and interest to your shots to make it look like it’s not just you and your camera.

If you struggle with filming yourself, then this video from Moritz at Fenchel and Janish is for you. In it, Moritz talks you through six tips and techniques for you to make your life easier when you’re filming yourself to step up your production level.

The tips and techniques presented in the video are pretty straightforward, although a couple of them might mean buying a little extra gear – like a field monitor or wireless lav mic. You don’t have to, of course, and it will largely depend on the camera you’re using but having come to similar gear conclusions myself, they certainly make life a lot easier.

  • 0:21 – How to monitor yourself
  • 1:11 – How to get yourself in focus
  • 2:01 – How to frame a shot
  • 3:16 – How to record sound
  • 4:00 – How to read text
  • 4:31 – How to add camera motion

Monitoring yourself can be as simple as using a camera with a flippy out LCD or you can go a little higher budget with something like the Hollyland Mars 400S Pro HDMI transmitter and a field monitor. You can take it up a notch more by using my currently preferred method, something like the Zhiyun Weebill 2 gimbal with the AI Transmount transmitter and VC100 controller. That last combo also takes care of your focus and framing issues – more on that setup coming in a future post. But, depending on your camera, you might not need any of this. You might have a app available that lets you easily view and remotely control your camera from your smartphone over WiFi.

Wireless lavs are your friend when it comes to audio. On-camera mics are great, and there are a couple of fantastic ones out there like the Rode VideoMic NTG and the Sennheiser MKE 400, but if you want your camera more than arm’s length away, you’ll need something with a bit more range. As for reading text, a teleprompter definitely makes a massive difference. I ended up designing and 3D printing my own that mounts to the Haida M10 filter system rings, and it cut my shooting time down to about a quarter of what it was when I had to actually try to remember lines and not mess them up. And because I no longer had to make a bunch of jump cuts, it made sequences flow more smoothly, too.

The last tip… Well, it’s software-based. and Moritz demonstrates it using Adobe After Effects. But if you don’t have After Effects and don’t want to sign up to yet another Adobe software subscription, you can do this in the free version of DaVinci Resolve, too.

What tip or gear helps you the most when filming yourself?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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