Home » Blog » Getting started with video – Part 1: Video planning and set-up

Getting started with video – Part 1: Video planning and set-up

Creating your own video content can feel like an extremely daunting task when you’re first starting out. The production quality of the average online video has certainly increased in the last few years. When it comes to creating your own projects and video planning, you might be feeling some performance anxiety; worrying that you won’t be able to measure up.

Well, cut that shizz out and create your video anyway! ;P

In all seriousness, though, there’s no need to let the technical aspects of video-making keep you from sharing your story. Focus instead on telling a great story in a clear and concise video. If you manage to post any video at any level, you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of the rest who are too afraid to even hit record. So, my first piece of advice is to just start.

That said, there are some handy tips, tricks, and info that I think any starting video creator could use. I don’t consider myself an expert, but after having made a decent amount of digital video content I have learnt a thing or two which I’m happy to share with you here.

Originally, I wrote this as one post including planning, equipment, and editing, but it became extremely looooooong. So, I’m breaking it up into 3 parts.

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Planning and set-up

Before you ever click that little red button, you need to establish what kind of story it is that you want to tell. What do you want to achieve with this video? What should the viewer know/feel/do after watching your video?

This might be a step you’d rather avoid, but having a clear goal will allow all the other technical pieces of video creation to fall into place.

One thing I like to do is create a private playlist for myself on YouTube with videos that have the style I would like to replicate with my own video. You can list out what you like and dislike in each one concerning style, type of shots, length, etc. Look at the common denominators and you’ll have a clearer picture for what you want to achieve.

What’s your elevator pitch?

Once you’ve decided on your goal, use the ‘elevator pitch’ theory on your video idea: what are the essentials the viewer needs to know and how I can I tell them in the shortest time possible?

You might also find it handy to script out or storyboard your video in advance. Something as simple as a shot list of what you want to show and in what order can make shooting more efficient and stress-free.

When it comes time to record, you’ll know what shots you want to be sure to get. Of course, on the fly you’ll want to get some unexpected clips, but if you have a shot list prepared then you won’t come home with too little to work with.

Video length

Once you know your goal and how to tell your story most efficiently, you can decide on your video length. Consider your viewer’s attention span. Or, rather, consider your own attention span! How long would you keep watching? You might have a long event or trip that will end up being a lot of footage; consider breaking it up into multiple videos. Hooray! More content to share and in more easily digestable bits.

Some standard guidelines for online video: 60 seconds is ideal for promotional videos (i.e. “short form”) while 5-10 minutes is more suitable for a vlog or short-story style video.

You’ll often end up with a lot more footage than you need for a single video; which is typically better than not having enough. I’ll talk about editing in the last part of this series, but be prepared to ‘kill your darlings’ in the edit. But, also try to think about this in advance during preparation. You’ll save yourself and your subject(s) from wasted time when you know what you’re trying to achieve.

Setting the scene

Consider your scenes and the space where you’ll be recording. Is it outdoors, indoors, or a combination? What’s the lighting situation? What time of day will it be? Will there be a lot of external noise? Do you need access to a space to change clothes or use the bathroom?

Don’t get overwhelmed; I tend to use what I have and work on the spot. But, if you’re looking for a particular result you may find you need to alter your plans or buy/borrow additional equipment depending on the circumstances you’ll be shooting in.

Running through similar questions can help you feel more prepared when it comes to your shooting day(s).

Up next – Part 2: Equipment

So, I hope you’re going to start planning that video you’ve been waiting to make for a while. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them my way. In the next part of this series, I share what camera, gear, lighting, etc. you need to make your video.


Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov on Unsplash

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