Video 101: Video For Dummies, From A Dummy

One feat man has failed to overcome is the inevitability of time. We’ve harnessed the power of the sun, we’ve dammed up lakes and we allegedly walked on the moon. But time … time reigns supreme.

French film critic and theorist Andre Bazin wrote about this idea, and how the moving image allows us to mummify time, therefore conquering it. Film enables humanity to make themselves timeless, people of 2177 will be able to see the new discoveries and pop culture of 2017 because of the film and video (not that there was much: dank memes, the Donald, Harambe…man that’s depressing).

Regardless, 2017 has shown us that relaying information through video is becoming very universal. And while it may seem like an easy task, there is much more bad video than good video out there in the world. Here are the basic steps to making a solid video (results may vary):

1. Gather a coherent concept

Often, when one writes a letter or story there is some sort of structure to it. The same goes for video. We must ask ourselves, “What shots are going to be used to visually tell the story?”
Before shooting a video, you should have a shot list of clips necessary to tell the story. Some people even create storyboards or sketch out ideas for what each shot will look like.

What are we going to hear in the video? A script for dialogue, questions to be answered in an interview, and music are several other things to consider. If you can hear and see your story before filming it, you’re more likely to get a satisfying end product.

Another huge factor is equipment. How a video looks and sounds is entirely dependent on the tools used to capture it. When working with a smartphone, you can’t expect to capture the next Star Wars film. However, you can ensure the best footage with very little planning (ex. a mini-tripod for your phone to keep shots stable).  

2. Choose a location(s) and your subject(s)

Once the previsualization is complete, the concept needs to be grounded to reality. Where are you filming and what are you capturing?

Find the who, what, where and when you are filming in this step. Hopefully step one already helped you discover why you’re making a video. Once you gather the people, places and things, you’ll make your idea a reality.

3. Shoot for the edit

Your shot list, script and equipment in a location with a subject should make it pretty easy to start filming. Execute your shot list, and keep in mind how all of this will be put together. Is the lighting good — can we see our subjects? Do the fluorescent lights look gross? Is it too windy? Can you hear who is talking? Are you shooting on a tripod or does everything look shaky? If you can keep these things in mind, you should be able to capture what you intended.

4. Edit (cut, cut, cut)

Once all filming is done, you can edit the clips into a coherent order (or not coherent, who knows what you’re making). You should have a variety of shots to choose from that are exposed correctly and stable enough to cut into a story. And you should be able to hear what you are supposed to hear; people can excuse bad video, but people usually can’t excuse bad audio.

5. Get feedback

Let people view your draft, and ask what works and what doesn’t. If you want people to see the video and you’ve slaved over the process, you owe it to yourself to get advice; other people may see things you never would have caught.
Video can be a daunting task; editing footage into a one-minute video will take longer than given credit. If you follow these five simple steps, you should be able to create art organized and effectively… but I mean, what is “art”? That’s for an entirely separate article, and I’ll tell you right now, I have no idea.