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July 07, 2016

4 Tips for Making Great Youtube Guitar Videos

I often get asked how to create good looking videos for youtube. Here are some general tips for getting good results when creating videos lessons or demos.

1) Lighting. This is the first thing you need to address as you set up your camera(s). If your shots are not well lit, your footage will turn out grainy and dark. It will not look professional. Professional lights can be quite expensive. However, you can do just fine with cheap lights. I use relatively inexpensive softboxes. Each costs 77 dollars and I use two of them (I use these ones). I put one front-left of me, and one front-right. You can and should play around with the placing of the lights, depending on what you want to achieve. It can look cool and more interesting for performances if one side of you is a bit darker than the other side. If you can't spend 2 x 77 dollars, then you can still get decent results with cheap LED lights, or even Halogen lamps. Halogen lamps get really hot though, keep that in mind.

2) Camera Gear. There are so many good cameras out there nowadays, and any mid-range camera will do High Definition at 720p (1280 x 720 pixels). 1080 x 720p. Some cameras can do 60 frames per seconds, which will make the video look really smooth. However, 24 or 30 frames per second is more common, and looks great too. Keep in mind that it's actually more important that you have good lighting, compared to having an expensive camera.

I recently bought a Panasonic G7, and I love it. It's a mirrorless mid-range DSLR, and it provides amazing video. It does 4K too, but in order to process such high quality video, you need a really fast computer. I personally think that 4K is overkill for guitar videos. A drawback with many cameras in this price range is that the recording time is limited to 30 minutes.

I also use a Canon XF100, which is a professional video camera. It has 2 XLR inputs, so I can plug my microphone XLR cable straight into the camera. That can be very useful. This camera is much easier to control manually than most DSLR cameras. I really like the Canon XF100. With proper lighting, the footage will look fantastic. Regardless of which camera you use, make sure you know how to set it up. I recommend you set it up with manual settings. Setting exposure, focus and aperture manually is well worth doing, compared to using auto-settings and have things change on you without you knowing. I hate seeing focus and exposure change throughout a static video - it's just not professional.

3) The sound. Yeah, the lighting is important, but so is the sound! So many people record their youtube videos using only the built-in microphone in the camera. Bad idea. Don't do that. The best thing you can do is to record the audio separately through a standalone recorder or on your computer. You need a microphone close to your mouth, when talking. That's why the camera microphone is usually a bad choice, because you are too far away from that mic. If you can hook up a lav mic to your camera, even better. A condenser mic on a stand closer to your mouth/head works great too.

Naturally, you should record your guitar separately too. Use a good mic like a Shure SM-57 or similar, and record onto your computer or standalone recorder. A cheap but great sounding recorder is the Zoom H1 (or similar). Small, and it sounds great. It is very easy to use, and you can use it for your guitars as well as when speaking. If you use it for talking, just place it on a desk right in front of you.

Recording audio separately this way means you need to sync up the audio to the video later. If you use Final Cut Pro X, this is really semple. You just import the video and audio into Final Cut, select both video and audio clips and select "synchronize clips". After that, you simple remove the audio from the video clip. You may want to adjust the audio a bit too - normalize, add some compression or reverb, etc. You can sync up audio and video with most quality video editing software. Even iMovie will work, but you have to do it manually, which is not as hard as you may think.

4) Make it fun and interesting. Keep most videos to under 10 minutes. Around 5 minutes is even better. Try to be relaxed when talking and playing. If you make some mistakes, don't worry too much about it. You can often cut those things out when editing. It's also important to be focused. Too much talking about details is usually just boring. Remember people can read specifications and such things on their own. If you are demoing a guitar, try to provide as much details of it as is useful, but don't spend a lot of time on things that don't matter much. Same with lessons - focus on the big picture and try to think like a student. Make it fun to learn from, or fun to listen to, in case of demos. If you have time to make a little demo track to play along to, even better.

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on July 07, 2016

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