Join Jason Osder for an in-depth discussion in this video Shooting tips for small-screen content, part of YouTube Essential Training.
Shooting is a very big topic. I specifically want to talk about and think about shooting for YouTube or what we sometimes call it a shooting for small screens. I want to be careful about the way I talk about it, because it's absolutely true that these days YouTube is used just to distribute full-size content that hasn't been particularly prepared for YouTube at all. That being said; it's also true that a lot of thought is going into how people watch video on different devices, on a web browser and particularly on mobile devices.
The term of art for that is small screen shooting and I do want to look at some tips that are particularly valuable if you're shooting for the small screen, including YouTube. One way to think about this heading in is just to understand where you're placing yourself in terms of the context of your shooting. It does matter what your audience is expecting. So if you're shooting as a professional and you know that it's a professional product at the end of the day; that sets the expectations and especially for a small screen, you do want to be careful about a number of the tips that I'm going to give you on the next slide.
If you're a hobbyist, the bar might not be quite as high. It might be the case that you've got different sorts of shots that just work and you put them YouTube the way they are and that's that. Some of these tips may not really apply to you unless or until you're thinking specifically about shooting for the small screen. And finally, a lot of people are crafting themselves as a new media specialist, someone who is really thinking about all the aspects of the media, the social aspects, how it'll be embedded, interactive, participatory aspects.
In which case again, I would say that the bar is very high and also you may very much be thinking specifically about the small screen in your production. Depending on where you're coming from, you might put more or less time into specifically thinking about small screen production, but if it is something that you want to focus on, the following tips will be very helpful. So when shooting for the small screen, always use a tripod. I personally think that using a tripod is a good idea in most cases, but a lot of things that will look acceptable, moving shots and a certain amount of shaky shots that seem to add life to the video, will actually become more deteriorated when compressed for the web and you may consider not using that moving style and instead using a tripod.
Again, this is going to be more true on a true small screen, than someone that's just using YouTube to watch a big video. Similarly, plan to not move the camera too much. A lot of big waving shot or pans, tilts, just a lot of movement in the shot becomes more distressed upon compression. So even if you might choose a moving shot if you're shooting specifically for YouTube, specifically for the small screen, you may consider a more static shot.
Don't ignore lighting. No matter what level you're at, no matter what lights you have or what equipment; try to at least pay attention to the light that's going on in the environment. This may mean just raising the shades to get more natural light, it may mean choosing an outdoor location, it may mean choosing an indoor location if the light is too strong, but don't just give lighting a pass, because you're using an inexpensive camera or you're shooting for YouTube, just focusing on it will make a huge difference.
The same goes double for audio. If you can use a real microphone, do it. If you can monitor audio with the headphones, absolutely do it. Bad audio is very distracting in any video. If you don't make it a priority, you may wind up with audio that's not really usable. One of other things I really like on a small screen is to use a tight framing, like close-up, with a wide angle lens. We call this sometimes zooming with our feet. Because with a wide-angle lens, if you want to get close, you have to physically get close, but the results of these shots can be very nice.
You'll have a close-up with someone's face, you also have a nice steady shot that comes with using a wide-angle lens, and the background will appear in your shot. It will actually be somewhat exaggerated by that wide-angle lens, so even though the person is in close-up, you'll still be able see some details out of the background. This style of shooting is something that I really like and I think it works particularly well on the small screen. There are no strict rules. Everything I said here is just a rule; and rules are made to be broken. So don't forget to have fun and feel free to experiment.
So these are just some tips for shooting for the small screen and shooting when you know that your output is YouTube, some of the technical factors that will come into play will dictate some of your shooting decisions. So when you're in that situation, refer back to these tips and you'll have better YouTube video right out of the box.
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