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Experienced YouTubers and vloggers will tell you that publishing consistently is one of the secrets of growing your audience. But to publish consistently you have to make more videos and make videos more often. Unless Youtube or vlogging is your career, finding the time to make videos can be a problem. So how do you maximize the time you have?
You need a video production process that saves time, is easy, and fun. The fun part is important because if you are not enjoying yourself you will give up. In this article, I have 15 time-saving hacks to skyrocket your video productivity. Apply some or all of them so you can produce more videos more often.
- Build a permanent video studio setup at home
- Create a temporary home video studio
- Cut down on your video equipment
- Use lights that are quick to set up
- Block out some time in your calendar for a recording session
- Forget the green screen
- Use a script
- Don’t try learning your script off by heart
- Use a teleprompter and sound like a pro
- Get some help behind the camera
- Create and reuse a standard intro and end-screen
- Shoot and edit on your iOS device
- Repurpose existing content
- Try one-take recording
- Make framing yourself easy
15 time-saving hacks to produce more videos more often
When you build a permanent home video studio setup something wonderful happens. Your enthusiasm won’t subside due to the constant set up and clear down of your video equipment.
Is setting up and clearing away equipment really such a chore? Believe me, if you do it enough times it sure is. I regularly provide a video studio at business EXPOs and the set up can take up to two hours. Packing away takes less time, but it’s certainly not a five-minute job. With experience, I’ve refined the process. Setup and clear down take about an hour each. Of course, some help would speed things up.
Think about it. With a permanent home video studio, it may only take half an hour to record a ten-minute video. But add set up and clear-down time and the ten-minute video takes three hours to record. Obviously, this is NOT the way to be productive.
Ideally, you want to be able to dive in front of the camera whenever you want to. You will be able to record videos when you’re gripped with enthusiasm for your topic. Consequently, you’ll enjoy recording and your enthusiasm will shine through to touch your audience. You’ll produce more videos and your following will grow faster.
If possible, turn a spare room into a home video studio where you can leave your equipment ready to record. A permanent home video studio will smooth the path to making more videos. Think of it like any other tool at your disposal. If it is easy to use, you’ll use it more often. The side benefit is that the more often you use it, the more proficient you will become.
If a permanent studio is out of the question, how about somewhere you can set up relatively quickly. Although not as good as a permanent studio, a repeatable temporary video studio will help you produce more. You have at least two options.
- Use your existing office or desk space as a set
- Set up in a lounge
Using your existing office or desk space
What does your office say about you?
Filming in your existing office or desk space maybe your best option, depending on what your video is about. If you’re presenting a computer-based tutorial then sitting next to a keyboard and monitor may be appropriate
Many modern offices have large windows and white painted walls, this can help keep your equipment list super simple. Of course, the windows must let in enough daylight and you are prepared to shoot when the conditions are right.
When shooting in an office with daylight you’ll need a camera with a fast lens. If you don’t have a fast lens you’ll have to boost the gain or ISO, possibly introducing video noise. Video noise is that dancing color sparkle effect, which isn’t generally desirable
With a DSLR you will have the option of changing lenses to match your shooting conditions. A fast prime lens with a focal length of around 24 – 50mm will probably give you the best results. In this case, a fast lens would have an f-number of 1.4, 1.8 or 2.0. The lower the f-number, the faster the lens. You will also find that the lower the f-number the expensive the lens. For example, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is about a third of the cost of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.44 USM lens.
If you do need artificial lights a couple of
Set up in a lounge
The second option for a temporary studio is your lounge or any other domestic room for that matter.
Move room furniture out of the way to create enough space to set up a background, lights, and camera. Your rearranged room doesn’t have to look pretty, your framing will eliminate everything except you against the background.
Other than your camera, you’ll need a backdrop, backdrop support kit, and lights. I saved myself some time and money by getting the Neewer kit that combined all three. The large version includes three 6×9 ft muslin cloths in white, black and green. A 3.5 ft to 8.5 ft support system. Clamps, two softbox lights with stands, plus a softbox light on a boom stand. I found the kit perfect for my first studio setup, although I have sometimes done without the boom mounted softbox when I needed a quick setup. You can find the backdrop and light kit on Amazon.
In a domestic lounge, my preference is for a collapsible backdrop and LED lights. Both are quick to set up and take down and they only take up a moderate amount of space. My smaller collapsible backdrop really speeds things up when I’m filming a one person talking head video. It’s 5×7 ft and reversible, white on one side and black on the other. The steel rim does a good job of springing open and stretching the material flat. Consequently, it is easy to set up in a number of ways.
It has been hung from my backdrop support. I’ve set it up between two light stands using four metal clamps. It has been hung from a single light stand. I have even pinned the side tabs to the wall. Sometimes, if the backdrop lifts away from the wall at one corner I secure it with a strip of gapper tape. Once I’m done, the backdrop folds down into a round carry bag that’s about 18 inches across. If I were starting over, the collapsible backdrop would be one of my first studio accessories.
With artificial lighting, you can get away with a slower lens. However, if you use a faster lens, you can stop it down to its sweet spot. Both the amount of light collected and the image quality will be good. You or your talent will be sharply in focus but your background will be blurry and reminiscent of cinematic shots.
Do you really need all that gear? Or are you developing GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome!
I have plenty of gear I thought I needed. What happens is that as you acquire more stuff, the time it takes to setup goes up. Try to restrict your equipment to what you really need. The first thing to do is consider whether you need a backdrop and support kit. If the room looks good or can be made to look good, why not use it as it is.
If it’s your office you’re using consider painting the walls a plain white or light gray. With this arrangement, you can ditch your backdrop cloth or collapsible backdrop plus the backdrop support kit. Next, go through the rest of your video equipment and ask yourself whether you really need it. Each piece of equipment you can leave out will reduce your set up time and help boost your productivity.
I used to include three soft-boxes in my mobile studio setup. My clients thought it looked impressive and produced great results, but it was a pain to set up. Often I’d not bother with the third softbox that was meant to be used as a hair light. When you want to shoot just one or two videos and cannot leave your lights set up I’d forget softboxes. I would choose LED lights.
Soft-boxes come as a set of parts that need to be assembled. The main light head contains the electronics and switches and is where you screw in your CFL light bulbs. In my case, that is 5 bulbs per light head, which is useful because it gives me five power levels. But screwing up to 15 bulbs into the light heads takes time. Each light head then needs the reflective hood attached and white diffuser material put over the front. The whole thing, which is now relatively bulky, is secured onto a light stand
This time-saving hack is simple but does require some preparation. Set aside either a day or half a day for a recording session. The plan is to record as many videos as possible in one go. You’ll need to write scripts in advance, or at least plan what you are going to say in each video. Do everything you can to make that possible, including avoiding distractions due to phone calls and social media.
Once you have the footage you can edit the videos as and when you want, although the sooner the better. I have sometimes come back to my recordings and wondered why I’d deviated from the original script. An obvious tip here is to keep production notes.
Being able to record several scripts in the one session also improves the quality of your presentation. You simply get into your stride and can make a better job of it. Since we all tend to get better with practice, read through the script before you record. Make sure you read it aloud so you can familiarise yourself with the necessary phrasing. After a practice read through you’re more likely to get to the end without fluffing your lines.
A short video should take no more than half an hour to record. So in a working day, you should be able to record about a dozen videos. If you are recording shorter 60sec videos you could increase your productivity to around five videos per hour. That would result in 20-30 short videos from a day’s work. Don’t worry if you don’t initially achieve that number, it will come with practice. As you master the video production process you will naturally film more videos.
If you want to skyrocket your video productivity avoid green screen production. I know everyone wants to do it, I get it. It’s the easiest way to play at being Hollywood, but you’re not making movies. You’re sharing your knowledge or marketing via YouTube or your website.
Anyone can do a passable job of shooting green screen footage but doing it well takes time. You need to get your set up right to be able to pull a good key and make editing easy. Even if you get it right, could you have achieved your goal more quickly another way?
So my advice on green screen, only use it if you really need it, otherwise – DON’T DO IT! You’ll save time and produce more. And more videos means more revenue.
Like any other project, you succeed in video production by planning and a script allows you to plan.
Of course, you can just turn on the camera and start speaking. If you’re a natural speaker it can be a very productive method of making videos. But even then you still have to plan what you are going to say
Having a script ensures you cover all the intended points and in the correct order. A script helps you sound like an expert and gives your audience confidence in your advice and opinion. Preparing a script also helps to control the length of the video. You may have heard that videos should be kept short. In my experience that’s only true for some sales videos.
When looking at my videos it’s the longer ones that have the highest views and watch-time. In fact, it’s not just my view that longer videos do well. At a YouTube Creators day I attended, the YouTube team told us that long watch-time is what they’re looking for. Youtube actually wants longer videos so give your audience the opportunity to keep watching for longer.
So if YouTube wants you to have longer videos, why bother with a script?
Just throwing in everything and rambling does not lead to
If you ramble your way through the recording you’ll only have to cut out the worthless bits in the edit, thereby wasting time. Keeping your presentation focused keeps your audience watching for longer and you cut down your recording and editing time.
You do not need to learn your lines, at least not all of them at once. Try what I call the Chocolate Chunk method of recording. Record your script one chunk at a time. Write out your lines on a flip chart that is to the side or behind the camera. Then memorize the first line and record it. Once you’ve got a take the way you want it, do a double hand clap in front of your face. Then move on to the next line on the flip chart. Once you’ve got that line right it’s a case of rinse and repeat until you have completed the script.
When you import your footage into your video editor, the hand claps will show in the audio as tall spikes. This tells you the recording just before the claps is a good take. You can then cut out the rubbish and join together your good takes.
Although you do not need to learn your whole script, it would be advantageous to have read it. By doing so, you will understand how to deliver each line so the final result doesn’t sound disjointed.
With this method, you take away the pressure of having to learn the script off by heart. Consequently, you’ll find it easier to get through to the end quickly.
Ideally, you will be using a script for your video but you do not need to commit it to memory. Put the script put onto a teleprompter and read your script to camera.
Many teleprompters use a beam splitter that allows you to place your camera directly behind the image of the text. The technique works very well but most teleprompter kits are expensive. An alternative that works extremely well involves using a teleprompter app on an iPad. Mount the iPad on or near your camera and ensure you are at least 2.5 – 3m in front of the camera. That way the viewer will not notice you are not looking directly into the lens of your camera.
With practice, you’ll find using the teleprompter will help speed up the recording of each video. As with the Chocolate Chunk method of recording, read through the script at least once before recording so you are familiar with the required intonation.
A further time saver is to find someone to operate the video gear for you.
I know you’re probably working on your own but an extra pair of hands will always speed things up. With someone else behind the camera, you can concentrate on the content and forget about technical issues. If you live near to a college that offers video courses try hiring a student. They will be keen to build up their showreel and may even work with you for free.
You can extend the idea of getting help to your video editing. Again, look for a student or go further afield by looking at video editing gigs on Fiverr. Although it involves a cost, it could be worthwhile since it would free you to create more content.
To save more time consider recording a standard intro and ending that can be included in each video. This could be a branding statement or call to action, such as “click below to subscribe”. If you’re making Youtube videos take advantage of the end-screen feature to encourage greater watch time. You’ll also be able to include an on-screen link to your website.
If you are not good at design buy a template and use a Fiverr gig to have it personalized.
Reusing the intro and end-screen means you don’t waste time creating something new for each video.
Did you know you can shoot and edit on your iOS device? I shoot some of my videos on my iPhone and edit either on the phone or on my iPad. Editing on the iPad is a better experience. To get my clips over I’ve used a variety of techniques.
- Airdrop to my iPad
- Upload and download from the cloud
- External memory stick
By editing on a mobile device you can do it anywhere and at any time that suits you.
My preferred editing app is iMovie for iOS. It’s free from the App store or iTunes.
You can insert your piece-to-camera shots, add b-roll footage, images, and music. You can even record and add narration. The app really does offer a great deal but is only available for iPhone, iPod, and iPad. For Android, you can use Adobe’s Premiere Clip, although it is not as capable as iMovie for iOS. The situation should change towards the end of 2018 when Adobe plans to launch Project Rush.
Project Rush is meant to deliver professional video editing results for Windows, Mac, and iOS. It is meant to have many powerful features available through an easy to use interface. YOur project will be synced across your devices, be it your phone or desktop.
If you are happy to use iPhone/smartphone videography you have the potential to record more videos.
Have you already got other content? You’ve got another time saver right there. Turn that content into videos with minimal effort. You have already done the hard work of doing the research, writing, creating graphics and maybe even recording a podcast.
Got a PowerPoint presentation? Then you’re already halfway to having a video sales letter (VSL) or explainer video. You could import your slides into your video editor, then record and add a voiceover. You can do it on your desktop, laptop or even your iPad. But save more time by producing the video inside PowerPoint and export as an mp4 file.
Got a podcast? If you create regular podcasts you just do the opposite to the above. This time create some appropriate slides using text and images and add those assets to your podcast audio.
Got a blog? Take your posts and record them as a piece to camera. Any images and graphics that you have can be overlaid where necessary. If you post was a product review film some b-roll footage of the product and include that.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to be perfect on camera. You will probably always find something you think you could have done better. Just accept that your videos will never be perfect, they just need to be good enough for your audience. What matters is that you publish your videos and get them in front of your viewers. If you believe you have to be perfect you’ll never get your videos out there where it matters. You might have something valuable to say, but if you never publish the video it’ll count for naught.
So accept that being less than perfect is OK. As you create more video content you will naturally improve as you gain experience. As your confidence and video skills grow, your videos will improve.
Jump in, call action and go for it with one-take recording. Even if you stumble keep going until you get to the end of your script. If you’re vlogging or teaching this technique has the potential to work well for you. Once you’re done recording, trim the beginning and end, then publish. There can’t be a quicker way to accelerate your video productivity.
If you are recording videos on your own you will have the problem of framing yourself correctly. Unless you can see your screen you’ll have to use a trial and error method until the framing is right. It’s a method that does work but it takes time. If we can shave off some of that time you can use that time to film more. So what you need is to see yourself.
If you’re a camcorder user you’re probably in luck because there’s a good chance you will have an articulating screen. That’s one that can be folded out and be rotated through 180 degrees, so you can see yourself in front of the camera. It’s even possible your camcorder has an app that allows you to see the camera output through a wifi connection.
If you are going to use a DSLR, choose one with an articulating screen. The other option, like many camcorders, is to use a companion app. Whether it’s an articulating screen or an app on your phone, you’ll be able to frame yourself correctly.
If you prefer iPhone videography with the rear-facing camera consider getting consider getting the FiLMiC Pro camera kit. Install FiLMiC Pro on your iPhone and FiLMiC Remote on another iOS device. You’ll be able to see yourself on the second iOS device as well as control the FiLMiC Pro camera app. Another option is to install Reflector 3 by Air Squirrels on your desktop or laptop and mirror your iPhone’s screen to your computer. If you are an Android user you can screencast your phone’s screen. Again, adjust your position until your framing is correct.
Whatever you do to enable seeing yourself, once you have finalized your framing remember to look into the camera’s lens.