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How to Make Your First Video

Co-authored by Elise Ramsay, Dave Cole, and Chris Lavigne.

When I first started making videos, I was intimidated. The vast library of tutorials available actually served to make me more nervous: was there that much I could be doing wrong? Should I even bother, if I didn't have an external microphone? It seemed like a lot to learn and perfect.

The fact is: you can make a great video today, using tools you already have. In under two hours, actually. Even Spielberg had to start somewhere. The goal for this video is to get your feet wet, learn, and build video-making confidence. Let's get scrappy and get over the initial hurdle of turning an idea into a finished video you can start using right away.

To prove it, Dave and I shot a quick video and learned a few things along the way. Here's our basic guide to shooting your first video, plus the full behind-the-scenes story of how we shot ours.

 

Choose a single, specific topic

Whether you are bursting with video ideas or struggling to think of one, your first video should tackle a specific, manageable topic. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get the ideas flowing:

  • What's one question you answer almost every day?
  • What's a common point of confusion about your business?
  • What's one friction point for your customers or users?
  • What's an internal process you could explain better?

Dave is our resident GoPro enthusiast, and people frequently ask him how to get started using one. We chose "a quick guide to using a GoPro" as our video topic.

Write down your ideas

As you're drafting the initial script, don't worry about form. Just get all of your ideas down on paper. We'll worry about turning it into a real script later.

I like to start with a main message and a few supporting bullet points, then gradually organize that information into a logical order to create a script. To keep your video concise, try to keep it under a page.

Finalize your script and break it into chunks

Once you've organized your thoughts, try reading the script out loud a couple times to make sure it sounds natural. Write your lines as if you're explaining to a friend.

Once you're happy with the way it feels, split it up into 1-2 sentence chunks so it'll be easier to memorize and read right into the camera. Here's the script we ended up with:

Find a well-lit spot

Lighting is probably the most important factor for making your shot look good - even more so than a nice camera! It doesn't have to be fancy. Head over to a window and make sure you're facing the outside. If you don't have any windows in your office, a lamp or brightly-lit computer screen pointed at your face will do the trick.

Reminder: Always keep the light in front of you, not behind you.

Set up your laptop

Your laptop has a powerful built-in camera. Here's why we decided to use a laptop for this video:

  • You don't have to worry about using a tripod.
  • It's easy to review each clip right away.
  • Importing is effortless, which cuts down on editing time.
  • You're probably looking at it right now!

A laptop sitting on a desk may not offer the most flattering angle. That's because the camera is looking up at the subject. Instead, raise the laptop off the table so that the camera is just above your eye line. It's much more flattering when a camera is pointing ever so slightly downwards at the subject.

Record the video

I like to use use Quicktime to record webcam videos, but you can also capture directly in iMovie or Photo Booth.

Using Quicktime, go to File > New Movie Recording. Before you click record, head into Sound in System Preferences and turn off ambient noise reduction. This makes the audio recorded from your laptop clean and crisp so you don't sound like you're underwater.

Read each line of your script out loud a couple of times until you've got it memorized, then look right into the camera and go for it! Think of a "line" as one of those two-sentence chunks you wrote in your script. Record one line at a time, and don't be afraid to do multiple takes! You can edit out the bad ones later on.

For editing's sake, look into the camera for one second before and after you read each line. This will make editing the lines together sound more natural.

Gather additional footage

Grab your iPhone (or smartphone of choice) and record a bunch of 5-10 second clips that help illustrate what you're saying. Dave took a couple of shots of the GoPro camera, and also used the GoPro to shoot a bit of fun footage. If you have a dog around, that's usually a good bet.

Additional footage can be in still image form as well. Think about snapping screenshots or using photos to better tell your story.

Edit the shots together

Finally, import all your footage into iMovie and find your best takes. Don't worry if you're an editing newbie: Apple has a whole host of tutorials.

Once you've got the narrative pieced together and sounding good, lay in your additional footage (aka B-roll) where it makes sense. Use these clips to hide the edits between each chunk of your script. The fewer jarring "jump cuts," the better!

Upload and embed

Congratulations - you just completed your first video! Upload it to Wistia and start sharing. Immediately after, find your nearest friend and give them a big high five. Earn extra points for a jump five!

Now you know what it feels like to work through the video process from start to finish. If you're anything like me, making your first video has sparked a whole lot of questions. To continue on your journey, check out our Learning Center tutorials and get help from others in the Community. If you're starting to get a little bit more advanced, here are a few links to help you with the next steps:

I promise (because I've been there) that your next video will be even better.

Show of hands: who has never made a video before? If you already have, what was your first video about? What's your favorite snack for shooting days? Snacks are important.


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