I’m quite sure you can’t understand vloging without actually attempting it. Regularly uploading to a YouTube channel is more than a camera on a ‘selfie-stick”. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, I set out to create a channel as part of a lecture series on social media, audience and digital distribution. Six months before that I was an ardent viewer/subscriber to YouTube vlogs. Research aimed at defining a successful channel and by that I mean channels with high subscriber numbers, regular posts and additional platform content to offer a potential model my students could follow.
The idea of using social media to sell something wasn’t unique but there weren’t a lot of filmmakers using these tools to create audience around more than a single project. Fewer yet were using this as the primary marketing and distribution chain.
Don’t misunderstand, there are thousands of FaceBook pages asking for “likes’ from potential ticket buyers. Marketing via social media is common but it is typically adjunct to the promotion budget. The exceptions were few but they did offer some hope that it was possible to grow a community that would support ongoing production and film work. It made sense that if you used social media streams to focus people at a hosted site this online presence could support the media maker, beyond crowd-funded single projects; a sustainable distribution model.
Vlogs (video diaries) are part of the tool set most people use in social media marketing. If for no other reason than YouTube presents too great a potential audience to be ignored. There were plenty of Vloggers with thousands of subscribers and some where that number was in the millions.
The difference between a YouTube channel pushing people to your web site and getting likes on a Facebook group is simply a matter of control. Control in this world of content development is pretty important. It should be understood that a single stream or platform won’t be enough, my YouTube channel explains.
The majority of YouTubers are Vlogers, that is they point the camera at themselves and frequently it’s fascinating. While camera rolls the viewer is offered advice, shown how it’s done, revealed what it is or just shares the day. Nearly always in ‘selfie’ style production. As stated earlier it’s not so easy as it looks, particularly if you are attempting to teach.
Teaching is something I understand, and getting to the point in three minutes is easier with some visual aids. Even a weak PowerPoint slide set helps hold attention for say, three minutes. However, it’s nearly impossible to deliver that stream of information without visual breaks. In media production we call this B roll.
My carefully crafted script, the A roll, can be delivered in segments without regard to constant eye contact, and then after an equally careful edit, it’s covered with images that support content and context, the B roll.
Say, I’m doing a “how to” on garden cold frames and have three short clips working with power tools, plus a dozen stills showing details on joinery. The script grows out of a process that outlines steps with emphasis on either vocal or image detail. The story is basically a layer of the process in images over explanatory narrative. This also makes it quite easy to control how much time is given to any particular part of the process. In filmmaking there’s no such thing as real time.
I’ve tried the Vlog approach, and actually narrated a script to camera and editing the breaks as jump cuts. The VlogBrothers have this down to a science but it didn’t work very well for me. Settling on what I know a simple visual story was built as a cover for the narrative and serves to entertain with out distraction from the factual bits.
The most recent installment and a second part has incorporated graphic elements over the lecture. The problem was how to show social media sites while discussing the general merits of using a mixture of platform types.
Adobe CC’s mobile app “Sketch” offers an elegant solution on pulling screen caps which can then be painted or sketched over. This allowed the display some detailed and distracting personal page content on a public medium while still supporting the message.The platforms I was discussing have a very recognizable interface so it worked to copy that in lines and blocks of color. I think it worked.
In the end I have developed a stronger appreciation for YouTubers, especially those turning out daily posts, something I’m no longer considering as a possibility in this experiment. The content. like the platforms, continues to evolve making the research and weekly, well regular posts, seem possible … js