5 Easy Hacks To Make Your Videos More Watchable
Wondering why your videos aren’t as cool to others as they are to you? Here’s how to make and edit videos worth watching. –
So you just rode an awesome new trail and downloaded the entire 65-minute ride directly from your GoPro to YouTube. Time creeps by, but you don’t get the views you think you deserve. What did you do wrong? What should you try next time? We’ve got you covered with these tips.
Don’t Go Long
One of the biggest mistakes amateur action auteurs make is uploading videos that are way too long. Professional media producer John Wheeler suggests keeping your videos to a maximum of five minutes and preferably around three.
“People’s attention spans are short, so they tend to get bored after just a few minutes,” Wheeler says. “You may have ridden the greatest, most exciting trail in the world, but after a few minutes, people are just going to skim through the rest of the video.”
Have A Plan
Knowing ahead of time that you’re only going to create a five-minute video has both advantages and disadvantages. You won’t have to take as much footage, so you’ll save battery and electronic storage space, not to mention time sorting through an hour or more of video. But it also means you’ll need a plan beforehand, says renowned mountain bike skills instructor Ryan Leech.
“The more I plan for a shoot the better,” Leech says. “For skill tutorials, which is my focus, I have a script prepared ahead of time so I am clear about what I need to say and what shots I need. I can then choose the best venue, and am far less likely to overshoot. Less is generally more. If I’m unclear on what I’m shooting or why, then I end up coming home with way too much footage and that makes post-production slow and eats up hard-drive space.
Less is also more for edit length. For tutorials, I need to include enough footage to show different angles of bike/body positions and also some slow motion.”
Know Your Route And Conditions
What kind of video do you want to shoot? Yet another trail-riding edit or a video with a story or purpose? Pre-ride the trail and decide what sections you want to focus your energy on. Plan to ride those sections multiple times with multiple camera angles. (More on this later.)
The weather and lighting conditions can play havoc with your filming plan. Shooting in the forest on a sunny day around noon can lead to severe contrast and make the footage virtually unusable. Take a minute or two of test footage, and if it looks bad, just forget about the video for the day and enjoy the ride. That same advice also goes with wet weather, which can be hard both on your camera gear and the trail.
Use Your Head (Or Your Chest)
Handlebar-mounted cameras typically are the easiest to use, but the footage can be shaky and hard to watch. The next-best option is a chest-mounted camera that offers more stability. Wheeler, who has worked on sporting events, promotional videos, and TV shows for years, suggests mounting your camera to your helmet.
“Helmets are typically at a better angle, especially for trails,” Wheeler says. “You see more of what the rider sees and how they react to a given trail point. With a handlebar mount, you merely see the bike’s view. Helmet-mounted cameras make your video much more personal. You might look like a nerd, but it’s worth it.”
If you can afford it, spring for an image stabilizer like a gimbal, which will smooth out your videos’ bumpiness. (As an added bonus, it can also make it seem like you’re a much smoother rider.)
Pack Multiple Cameras
“I always love to mix in a variety of camera angles and mount styles, but only if it’s necessary for the goal of the final product,” Leech said. “I don’t want POV shots just to have POV shots; it has to make the final product better for the (viewer).”
Let Someone Else Do The Work
Many weekend warriors will take hours of footage and download it to their home computers, where it’ll sit forever gathering pixel dust. Capturing less footage will make the editing process less daunting. Both Wheeler and Leech use Final Cut Pro, but admit that it may be a bit of overkill for most amateur filmmakers.
“It used to be you had to pay for a professional-level program to make decent videos,” Wheeler said. “But now there’s so much free stuff out there—iMovie and Windows Live are just two—that are almost as good and work great for people wanting to edit home movies or mountain-bike footage.”