VODCASTING – SHOULD YOU GET INTO VIDEO?

Vodcasting is the latest method by which authors can stay in contact with their readers, by providing interesting and entertaining video content. After 5 years (and counting) producing an audio podcast I’m now branching out into vodcasting.

I’ve always experimented with video. A few years ago, I conducted a number of writer interviews online. It was quite often beset with technical problems, and a number of my interviewees needed help setting up their computers to enable the interview to go ahead. It was interesting for both me and them. although the video and audio quality was a little … basic. [ My chat channel ]

Now we’re in 2020, and availability of equipment was expanded, and it is much easier to create good quality videos without spending too much money. [ My channel ]

So, what do you need to begin creating your own videos? Entry to this arena couldn’t be simpler, and requires no more than a reasonably-modern smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can record your video, with audio, onto your device and immediately upload it to an account on YouTube.

But after a while, you may want to improve things – perhaps edit the video to cut out mistakes, and all those umms and ahhhs and ……… pauses. There is free video editing software around, and if you’re on Mac, iMovie is free, which is what I use. There may be software for PC, too. Don’t make too many jump cuts, which gets exhausting for the viewer. Don’t try to make it too perfect, which just looks unnatural. Play around with it, experiment.

How’s your lighting? The first rule of video concerns … LIGHTING. Get your lighting right. Don’t sit in front of a bright window, so your face is in shadow. Try to use subdued lighting, that doesn’t look too harsh. There are many video lighting systems for low prices available now. Ring lights for close-up videos, panel lights for a wider shot. All LED, mostly powered by rechargeable battery.

The second rule of video is … audio. Yes, I know. We’re coming to cameras, soon. If your microphone is built-in to your recording device, they’ll pick up echoes around the room and other extraneous sounds. And the quality won’t be very good. Lapel microphones (called mics and pronounced mikes) are very low-cost and good value, and will plug into your video recorder. You can also look into ’shotgun’ mics, which have a focussed area of sound pickup, and will cut out much of the room sound.

Finally – cameras. Strangely, the camera on your smartphone or tablet is incredibly good at recording your video. Don’t forget that your video won’t be shown on the local IMAX on a screen the size of a football field. Mostly, it will be viewed in a window on a laptop or phone screen, so resolution isn’t a major factor. Keep the lens clean, and your phone will do a great job at recording video. If you do decide to go to a video camera, look at reviews online. See what other vloggers are using.

For what it’s worth, this is what I use. I choose what is appropriate for each situation, but sometimes, recording something quickly to a smartphone works surprisingly well!
* Canon EOS M50 camera
* Trakstar SGC-598 shotgun mic (fixes to the camera’s hotshoe and plugs into the external microphone socket)
* Boya BY-M1 lapel (lavalier) mic
* MPOW Bluetooth headphones
* Various Neewer tripods
* Neewer 144-LED panel light

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Focus

What does focus mean to you? Something that happens automatically when you use your modern camera or smartphone? A type of Ford car?

I’m talking about personal focus. That moment of clarity, when the fug and fog around you disappears, what’s truly important comes into view.

The life of an independent author – one who doesn’t have a traditional deal with a large or medium-sized publisher – is one of wearing two hats, almost being a Janus figure – looking both ways. Janus, the God of beginnings and transitions. The beginning is the creative side, the writing of a novel; the transition is one of becoming a commercial author.

What are you talking about, Gerald?

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