Making connections using web video
This is Part One of my free Web Video Mini Course.
A really good way to make a connection with your students, is to record yourself talking to them on video. Personal coaching with Skype and Google Hangouts is good for this too.
If people can see and hear you, they will connect with you on a more personal level. It will help them to know, like and trust you.
It makes you human and authentic!
The web video above was created with an $89 webcam.
- I used the Logitech HD Pro C920 webcam. On amazon.com it was $67 (at the time of originally writing this post), but I’ve seen the price go up to $89. Keep checking!
- This camera wasn’t supposed to be Mac compatible, but it is! The camera comes with Logitech webcam controller, which lets you zoom, pan tilt and add effects. However the Logitech webcam software only works on Windows. (Here’s where Windows users have an advantage.)
- I like this webcam because it can be used on a tripod. It also comes with a long USB cord. About 6 feet by my estimation. That allows me to move the camera to a tidy part of my office to shoot the videos.
- (There are also newer Logitech web cams. The 930 and 930e are the next ones up, but they also cost a bit more. I haven’t tested them out.)
For Mac users
There is help for Mac users! You can use this camera out of the box, using the Quicktime Player that is installed on every Mac. I do that with most of the videos in this lesson. I’ll talk more about that later.
Camera controls: If you want control over zoom, brightness and colour in your video, Mac users need to use this free app called Logitech Camera Settings. My preliminary tests show it works fine. I’ll do a quick demo of it further in the lesson. Just one thing…. you need to be running OSX 10.7 or later to use it.
Why I use a separate Webcam and NOT the one built into my computer?
All of my computers have a built in webcam and yours probably does too.
- The reason I don’t like to use them is that it’s hard to position them where you want. It’s easier to move a webcam that has a 6 foot USB cord, than a laptop.
- Plus, you avoid the nostril shot! This happens when your laptop is lower than your head — which is where it usually sits. No more stacking the laptop on a pile of books! And if you wear glasses, it’s hard to avoid the glare of your computer screen when using the built in camera.
- And the image quality of the Logitech camera above is far superior to my Mac’s iSight camera, even on my brand new MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Lighting for this video
I used north facing window light for this video. I demonstrate how to use a small LED panel, in the Lighting part of this lesson, coming soon.
Audio for this video
- Some webcams have a built in microphone. The Logitech C920 is one of those. But I’m not super happy with the sound quality. In a big room it sounds a bit hollow. But if you are on a budget, start with that.
- For the web video above, I used a USB mic – which is a Blue Yeti.
- I use this mic for my screencasts as well. It also has a nice long USB cord so I can move it around to be close to me when I’m in front of the camera.
I also recommend using a tripod. Any tripod will do, as long as it gets your camera higher or the same height as your head. I’ve got a blog post on my other website about tripods, if you’re interested.
Web video is about connection, not perfection
This video is not perfect, but it was shot in one take, and wasn’t edited, except for adding the slides at the beginning and end of the clip.
In a future post I will show you how to edit in Quicktime. But you can also trim your videos in YouTube! You can do some simple video edits in YouTube.
One tip I have for when you first start out with video, is to keep them short, especially the camera videos.
The video above is 2:44. In general like to keep my videos under 3 minutes, if I don’t plan to edit them much. You can take a long topic and split it into smaller chunks, and put each one of the chunks into it’s own section if you teach online. Or make a series of YouTube videos for your blog posts.
If you are able to do more editing, then you can make them longer, and do cuts and fancy stuff. The reason I don’t recommend long camera videos is that we tend to stray off topic and we then lose our students. You want to stay on topic and focused if using video.
If you are doing an in depth lesson or demonstration, you will need longer videos. I have some of those too. But keep in mind that people’s attention span tends to drop off with some kinds of videos, unless you have “interruptions” like cuts to other scenes, sound effects, and graphic elements. Those are for more advanced video editors. But it’s amazing what you can do if you put your mind, and your personality to it!
Okay maybe I sound a bit wishy-washy on this topic.
Make your web videos as long as they need to be.
But, if you are totally new to creating video, start with a short video.
You want to get some experience being in front of the camera. It’s scary seeing and hearing yourself on camera for the first few times.
Check out all the blog posts in this mini course: