When you start vlogging, one of the most difficult things to get used to is actually filming yourself. It’s a little ironic as it’s kind of the whole point but it presents unique challenges that you don’t usually think about when filming or photographing somebody else. Or rather, you think more about them when you’re filming somebody else but you’re on autopilot. When you’re filming yourself, you just forget they’re a thing.
It’s easy to figure out why, though. It’s an unusual workflow and those autopilot processes just don’t enter your mind. We’ve got too much on our minds without having to worry about all that stuff. But it’s stuff you need to worry about. So, here’s Jeven Dovey breaking down the five main topics you’ll want to think about when filming yourself on location.
First up is lighting and this is – not surprisingly – a big one. We all know not to photograph people’s faces in bright sunlight at noon. We know to either put them in open shade or wait until the golden hour, but we often forget all our lighting experience when it comes to filming ourselves. But as with filming or photographing others, the lighting we have on ourselves is important. Jeven doesn’t mention it in the video, but a couple of small LED lights (I usually carry a pair of DigitalFoto Tree Frog LEDs in my bag) can be handy to have with you in darker locations or even bright ones to act as a bit of a fill when the environment doesn’t give you everything you need.
Audio is next on the list and this is another one that’s vital to making or breaking your video. Even if you ignore everything else, this is one you need to pay attention to. Viewers will happily listen to a vlog the whole way through it if it has amazing and clear audio but a terrible picture. But no matter how beautiful your video is, if the audio sucks, they’re going to turn it off in less than a minute or two. As well as on-camera mics (I like the Rode VideoMic NTG), Deven uses the DJI wireless mics but I personally prefer the Rode Wireless GO II with Lavalier II lavs or the Comica BoomX-D Pro. Both of the two I use offer internal recording in the transmitter to ensure you have a good recording even if you lose signal to the camera.
The camera and lens are obviously both important decisions but these are also quite personal and subective. We all have our own personal preferences on how we want our videos to look. That said, there are going to be times when you’ll need to think about what kind of field of view you need to have. There are also times when you’re going to want a shallower or deeper depth of field in order to be able to tell your story in the most effective way. Jeven has some great tips here, including a couple I’ll be thinking about as I vlog in the future.
Filming style is another one that’s also quite subjective, which Jeven covers excellently. But it’s not just about preference. It’s also potentially affected by logistics. How much gear can you comfortably and safely carry? Are you limited in how much stuff you can take with you? I have a lot of gear that’s far too big to take with me on a day out vlogging, but I also have a mini tripod, small gimbal, mini motorised slider, compact lenses and a couple of smaller bodies, not to mention a <250g drone that allow me to get a much wider array of shots than if I’d tried to lug out heavier and more capable gear.
Style is something that’s going to take time and it’ll evolve as your style changes and new gear comes out to help you achieve your vision but figure out what shots you like and what you really need to get those shots.
Finally, Jeven tackles colour. This also kind of becomes a part of your visual style and it’s probably the most difficult for a lot of people. Settling on a consistent look and feel is difficult. You have things that you like the look of and want to see in your videos, but you may also want to grade different videos differently to create a different mood or feeling in the view. Finding a balance between those things while also figuring out a technical process is also going to take some time.
What are your top vlogging tips that people often don’t think about?