One of our subscribers asked us how they can tell better stories in their vlogs.
Well with a little filmmaking knowledge and some basic storytelling techniques, we can help YOU make your vlogs more entertaining, informative, and engaging - all without spending a single penny more!
First, let's define what a vlog actually is! It’s a broad term, so lets put down some ground rules: a vlog is a piece of video content posted by a creator who features AS themselves in front of the camera and shares their thoughts and knowledge on something.
To put it simply, vlogs are videos of people sharing their world.
“My camera isn’t good enough”
Let’s get this first one out of the way. Your kit is the last thing you have to worry about when making vlogs. You don’t need a fancy camera, cool lights, and a top of the line microphone.
As long as the footage isn’t blurry and we can hear you clearly, it’s perfectly good enough for a vlog. Most smartphones are more than good enough for shooting content. So don’t blame your tools!
“I’m not interesting”
When something isn’t quite right with your vlogs, the first thing you’ll probably do is blame yourself. “I’m not interesting in front of the camera” you might say. WRONG. It’s not that you aren’t INTERESTING, it’s that you are not INTERESTED.
Successful vlogs are about people who love what they do. They have a passion.
Whatever subject it is you are talking about, you must be invested in it. This is your core subject, and it’s this single core subject which will help give your vlog some structure. More on structure in a bit.
Cody’s Lab is a prime example of being interesting by being interested. He makes videos about mining ore, smelting, and science experiments. He even has a series about Beekeeping. Until I watched his videos, I had literally no interest in Beekeeping, but because Cody is so passionate about his core subject I kept watching.
You don’t have to be the most charismatic and exciting person in the world, but by simply having a real interest in what you are talking about, you will automatically shine on screen.
Have a plan
A mistake a lot of new vloggers make is hitting record on the camera and waiting for something interesting to happen in front of them. Unless you are a rich superstar rapper who ends up in crazy situations every single day, you’ll need to plan your vlog to make it more entertaining.
Write down some subjects, places, things, or topics you want to cover in your vlog; just make sure they are things that interest YOU.
Before you go out for the day, you should have an idea of the type of video you want to make. This will give you a stronger backbone when you shoot, it will give you a focused subject, and it will help you craft the story as you go along.
“Character -> Conflict -> Goal” is an essential storytelling technique. Every great story follows this rule and your vlog should too if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Who is the character? YOU are! Interesting characters have strengths AND weaknesses, so don’t be afraid to show what you are AFRAID OF, CAN’T DO, AND DON’T LIKE, as well as the positives.
What is your goal? Tell us about what you want to achieve inside the vlog. In the filmmaking world this is called exposition. It’s the information the audience needs to know in order to follow along with the plot.
For example, in the movie Inception, they need to explain the whole thing about dreams, implanting memories, and stealing thoughts in order for the audience to be able to follow along.
So tell your audience your goal, document your journey, and show us the obstacles that get in your way.
Arrive Late - Leave Early
In filmmaking there is a term called “Arrive Late - Leave Early”. You see this executed in film and TV all the time. It’s that cut between the Police Officer grabbing his jacket off his chair and arriving at the scene.
You don’t need to see everything in between to understand the change of time and location - your brain works it all out. YOU can use this technique to help improve the pace of your vlogs.
If you want to show the passage of time, for example, you can actually do this in very few shots. End your scene by picking up your jacket, insert a quick shot of your watch, then close the door at the next location.
We understand in just a few seconds that you’ve left one place and arrived at another without masses of filler material. Your shots give the audience visual information, so don’t give them too much useless information just to fill up the timeline. Use your time wisely, and try to cut the fat from your edit.
If you are simply telling the audience that you’re moving location, you don’t need to show: tying your shoes, grabbing your food, closing the door, shots of your feet, getting in the car, putting on your seat belt, a timelapse of you driving, parking, getting out…
This is not very entertaining, nor is it informing the audience to further the plot of the film.
Some people might not agree with what I’m saying. Some people might prefer the organic, no-format, whimsical style of a vlog. And that’s totally fine! But if you want to compete with the best, using some storytelling and filmmaking techniques will certainly help you stand out.
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