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Beginnings and Progress

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You've got to start somewhere, and we started with our first video. We're righteously proud of our first efforts, and just as proud as our latest ones.

We learned all sorts of stuff along the way and you'll find some of that right here. And we truly believe in supporting others to be their creative best for God. So read on and learn from our successes and our failures.


Article Index 

The Early Days   Improvising
Organisation   Social Media

The Early Days

If you've got a mobile phone, video camera or a webcam you can get yourself started. Sure, you can invest in all sorts of stuff, but there's nothing wrong with starting with what you've got. That's exactly where we started.

Web Cams
Web cams can be great as they frequently record both audio and video. This was where we actually began, before moving on to using our mobile phones to capture the video element. They don't tend to have the best lighting or picture, but we made them work for us with a little effort. With some Velcro (hook and loop) strips holding them in place was super easy and quick.

Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are especially good as the camera quality is often excellent, and the audio isn't too bad either. If you've only got one person being filmed, then mobiles phones are a great option. If you're trying to capture more than one person, however, mobile phones can become an issue as objects further from the centre of the image are often distorted due to the tiny size of the lens in your average mobile phone.

We worked with that distortion with little issue though. So don't discount them!

Add a normal camera stand and a mobile phone holder for the top, and you have a perfect set up to get going. We bought a fairly cheap lapel style microphone that plugged into the headphone socket of a mobile phone, although that's only really helpful when filming just the one person.

We bought a USB plug in Condenser microphone to get the sound quality improved, and it made a huge difference. Coupled with a laptop computer, our webcams and a microphone, and we had a portable recording set up!

Don't over complicate everything - there is no right way, plenty of wrong ways. But, ultimately, make it work for your situation. Don't spend on loads of brand new equipment when you're very uncertain about what you're doing.

For the majority of people, a mobile phone, coupled with a plug in lapel mic, is more than you'll ever need to produce great material that people will be able to both see and hear, and enjoy!

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We improvise a lot. I'm not talking about a type of acting, although do frequently utilise this approach with some of our productions.

I'm actually talking about taking a look around your room and discovering many props and tools you'll be able to repurpose.

For example, we had an old microphone stand which we used to hold our USB microphones. When filming outside, we created cardboard shields to protect the lens from the sun. We've used umbrellas to shield the eyes of the person filming from the sun and all manner of contraptions to help us do what we needed to.

One of those was a need for Andy B to film himself with his Andy B 2 Minute Videos - so he made this:

The rear lens on a mobile phone is, generally, the much better one. Using a standard camera stand, Andy B created a mirror system, Velcro ties and a little bit of time, to create a stand for his phone.

Open Camera is a brilliant app you can download. It enables you to turn your mobile phone into something with lots more possibilities. Especially great is the ability to use the highest quality settings for your mobile phone camera, adding in a separate microphone source and much more. We still have this software for when we need it.

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Flying by the seat of your pants is pretty good fun. Andy B can drop into the Konnect Radio Breakfast Show and simply crack on with delivering a 3 hour show with little notice. And it works! But, you can never beat good old fashioned preparation.

This might be as simple as bullet points you want to deliver on a piece of card with your logo on the side the camera sees. It might  be learning your lines (something Andy B has never been able to do!). But you simply can't beat preparing for what it is you want to say.

Saturday is our regular filming day as a family. We might shoot video for 5 very different productions. But they are all on a single list, and each production has an A4 sheet of paper with what we need to have ready/know/say for that production. Later on that piece of paper helps us when it comes to editing as we can add any notes, in the moment, that are important for later.

On the second page of each of these A4 sheets, is a tick list. Any one of us can drop into any part of the editing and see what the progress is. If something isn't ticked off, it isn't done - simples!

We also have a whiteboard which lists all the items we need to record. As we move through them, we simply slide the magnetic marker to the right, and everyone knows that particular thing, for example Dave Unleashed, has been completed.

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Social Media

It's great to get your material out there. You can have a website and all manner of output options. But Social Media is a great way of engaging with people. You need to exercise caution here because if you are not careful, you can over reach yourself and spend far too long dealing with issues, rather than getting on with the business of creating. But, if you're creating, you need to engage with the people you're creating it for.

As a rule, if we follow a blog or social media account, and never get a reply to comments we unsubscribe, It's that simple. Rules are made to be broken though, so if the page has 5,000 followers, you can't expect daily correspondence.

YouTube is free. But that free will cost you. Vimeo will cost you, but that comes with greater ownership of your material. You need to decide what you want to be doing.

Initially we put all our videos on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. But with so many silly copyright issues - that were not real - we stopped posting to all but YouTube. However, YouTube has advertising and that didn't sit well with us, so we invested into Vimeo.

The quality of the uploaded videos far exceeds YouTube,  and you have full control over who can see, view, download or utilise your videos. We love Vimeo for this reason. We also love our YouTube Community.

Our advice? Grow slowly but steadily, and don't be taken in by paying for advertising just to grow your presence on the internet. Advertising can be highly effective, but it can put people off if you get it wrong, and you can end up spending money with little return. We've never paid for advertising our videos, and we're not sure we ever will.
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