"(Out of) Office Hours" Part 5: Shooting Video by Yourself
April 15, 2020
On the fifth episode of (Out of) Office Hours, Chris dives into how to shoot video by yourself. Although many people are remote, sometimes the show must go on! This week, he knew just the person to get on the horn who’s been shooting videos by himself for years — the one and only Trevor Holmes. From shooting for the edit to speeding up production, Trevor and Chris share their best tips for making videos alone a whole lot easier. Here’s a recap of what went down and some helpful links for you to dig deeper!
Video of the week
This week’s featured video came from Chris’s creative partner Dan Mills who is a huge Saturday Night Live fan. With a “the show must go on” mindset, SNL put together their take on a remote version of the classic live sketch comedy show. We found the whole episode pretty darn inspiring given their creative restraints, but Chris wanted to highlight the show’s intro.
Crowdsourcing footage from their talent, they leaned into post-production with their familiar outlines, text treatments, and music. Chris thought the production value of only having iPhone cameras was hidden by text callouts, outlines, and split screens. It was a prime example of edits being saved in post-production, and what they put out still felt very in line with the SNL we know and love.
Chris’s live stream setup
Chris rattled off a list of gear that makes up the live stream control center:
- Canon 5D “Webcam”
- OBS Streaming Software
- Crowdcast live streaming platform
- GoPro Hero “Wide Setup Cam”
- 4’ Quasar LED Tube
- Canon C200 “Lenny Cam”
- Blackmagic ATEM Mini HDMI Switcher
- Blue Yeti USB Mic
- Blackmagic Micro “Fox Cam”
- Jurassic Park streaming from VHS to DV converter
- Keynote and Zoom Laptop
Shooting video by yourself
Before getting Trevor on the call, Chris showed a video Trevor made back in 2018 called “The Best Way to Shoot a Video by Yourself.” There’s a whole post written up for it on the blog, too! These were some of Chris’s top takeaways from the video.
Finding a camera that has autofocus is mission critical. Chris wouldn’t recommend having a fancy cine lens or a manual lens because it’s just too hard to catch focus. If you happen to move, you might blow your whole shot. Instead, Chris loves the Canon Dual Pixel autofocus technology, which is really good at finding focus on your face.
Use a monitor
Having a monitor is mission critical in Chris’s book, too. You don’t have to buy a monitor, but instead, invest money in HDMI to USB adaptors. Every filmmaker should have one of these in their tool kit. You can turn your laptop (or anything!) into a monitor and use it for so many other purposes as well.
Keep your setup an arm’s length away
When you’re shooting by yourself, it can be a real pain to keep getting up to finagle around with your gear. By keeping your setup an arm’s length away, you can quickly adjust the exposure on your camera and get clear audio when your mic is close to your mouth.
Hype yourself up
You’re the only person in the room, and getting yourself pumped up can be tough when there’s no director. Trevor recommends doing jumping jacks, listening to music, taking a lap around the room, shaking it out, and doing whatever you have to do to get loose.
The hand trick
Because you’re the only person in the room, you’ll also be editing this yourself. The hand trick is extremely useful when you know you have a good clip or hit a good take. Just mark the shot by continuing to roll and cover your lens with your hand. During editing, all you have to do is go through, find all the hand marks, and you’ll know you had a good take right there. This simple trick speeds up post-production really nicely.
Wi-Fi companion app
Finally, if you have the option of using a camera with the wifi companion app, it’s really helpful because you don’t have to knock the camera every time you want to start recording. You can remotely press record, change your shutter, adjust your aperture, and more.
Q&A with Trevor
In this installment of (Out of) Office Hours, former Wistia video producer, Trevor Holmes called in from sunny California. With his wealth of knowledge from production design to shooting, editing, and animation, Chris had some questions for Trevor about how he’s been shooting videos by himself these days. Scrub to these timestamps to hear all the tips he has to offer:
18:19 — Trevor’s introduction
22:06 — How are you spending more time getting your shot set up?
24:57 — What are you doing for audio these days?
26:20 — What are you shooting with these days?
27:21 — What lav mic are you using and have you experimented with different mics?
28:11 — Any tips for shooting for the edit and setting yourself up for success in pre-production?
29:53 — Any tips for speeding up production? Anything you can do to help your future self out when you’re making a video?
How can we help?
That about wraps up this episode recap! Enjoying the topics we’re covering? We want to know how we can be genuinely helpful moving forward. Let us know what challenges you’re struggling with when it comes to video lately by hitting up Chris on Twitter @crlvideo or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to Wistia directly on Twitter @wistia. And, if you have any follow-up questions for Trevor, you can reach him on Twitter @wolfmantrev or Instagram. We hope to hear from you soon! See you next time.