Practical Vlogging Pro Tips on How to Film Yourself
With great quality vlogging equipment becoming more accessible than ever for vloggers, the number of people looking to vlog themselves is on the rise.
What once required a large crew to get any filming done, now can be accomplished by one person on a standard smartphone. However, there’s a real skill to filming yourself successfully, which can require practice to master.
Since my background is in filmmaking, I decided to ask seasoned experts in the filmmaking field what it takes to film yourself. With so many of my filmmaking friends leaning towards the type of content for social media channels lately, I wanted to figure out their Practical Vlogging Pro Tips on How to Film Yourself for vlogging.
From my research and interviews with these filmmaking professionals, I compiled ten tips to help vloggers improve their ability to capture footage themselves. Whether you’re a vlogger, adventurer, or simply looking to promote your business online, these tips will help you. First, let’s begin with gear.
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11 Practical Vlogging Pro Tips on How to Vlog / Film Yourself
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Video Gear for Vlogging Yourself
The most important tip is to make sure you have the right gear, and understanding how to use it is the first step to quality self-videos.
Use the Right Camera
One of the most important things that were stressed when talking to local filmmakers/vloggers in my area is that not having the right gear shouldn’t prevent you from getting started. Your smartphone’s camera shouldn’t be overlooked, even though most vloggers use the substandard “selfie” camera at the front of their smartphones.
To get the best out of your smartphone, the key is to have the primary camera facing forward which is much higher quality compared to the “selfie” camera.
If not using your smartphone, these filmmakers/vloggers suggest buying the best camera you can afford. If you are vlogging by yourself, look for a camera that has a flip screen so you can see what you look like as you speak during filming. Or you can purchase an external screen that can easily connect via HDMI.
If you are a travel vlogger that shoots their adventures no matter where they are, invest in a GoPro or two. The great thing about GoPro’s is they’re waterproof and can be attached to just about anything.
Plus, GoPro’s might give you the action shots you’ve been looking for that will separate you from the pack! A brand new GoPro costs around $350 or more, but you can pick up some of the older versions on Amazon for a fraction of that price.
As for resolution, you want a camera that films at a resolution of at least 1080p, but 4K is definitely not essential, but it helps.
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Stabilize the Camera
If you have shaky camera footage, you will lose your viewer’s attention in a heartbeat. Why? Because it just doesn’t look professional, unless it’s a creative choice, and it better not last for very long.
At a bare minimum, you should definitely invest in a good tripod. A tripod for any type of camera regardless if it’s a smartphone, DSLR, Mirrorless camera, a tripod helps improve the quality of videos by making the camera more stable to produce a smooth video with steady images and cinematic shots. Especially if you are vlogging yourself, having something to hold the camera while you are filming makes your life so much easier.
For tripods, Manfrotto is many vloggers’ go-to brand. For travel vlogging, Peak Design makes tripods especially for travel photographers and videographers looking for a lightweight tripod design that’s easy to travel with. If you are thinking of using a GoPro, look for GoPro mount accessories that can be mounted to any type of tripod.
It’s always best to put your camera on a tripod to keep it steady. And a tripod with a fluid video head will keep the camera movement smooth if you pan it around a scene. However, many vloggers I talk to like to go handheld for some shots, so they add a gimbal to their accessory kit.
Gimbals are much more portable and are useful for on-the-go content creators. Gimbals are great for shooting stills too from awkward angles and they are generally considered essential pieces of kit for videographers.
Get Quality Audio
My close filmmaker friend and I laughed at this tip because we both made a film that had incredible visuals only to be ruined by faulty sound. When it comes to videos, audio makes up fifty percent of the overall quality of a video.
If your audio is trash, your video will most likely be trash. If you’re thinking of filming by yourself using your smartphone, attaching an external lavalier mic to your smartphone than relying on your phone’s built-in mic is a game-changer.
Also, paying attention to the environment around you is also important to the sound of your video. If you have excessive wind or background noise during filming, it can ruin your footage! If you are scouting locations for shooting, pay attention to the time when it’s the quietest for filming, or find another location that is quieter.
Check Your Lighting
If you want to set a tone or feel to your vlogs or films and have your videos look amazing on viewer’s screens, then you need to mindfully consider the light you film in.
A priority when vlogging yourself is to stay away from harsh sunlight when trying to film. If are shooting outdoors, try to shoot in overcast conditions. Sure there are many great cameras like the Sony A7 mirrorless cameras that can handle the light well, but if you use a cheaper camera, those tend not to be able to deal with harsh contrast images.
If you are filming inside, make sure you don’t stand with a window behind you — you’ll appear as a silhouette. Lighting indoors is easier to control compared to shooting outdoors, and adding a lighting kit to your gear will help immensely. With the right setup, you can create a softer light and can stop you from getting harsh shadows that can ruin your image.
The video below is a short tutorial about lighting while filming yourself.
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Filming Techniques For Vlogging / Film Yourself
Once you’re all set up with the right vlogging gear, let’s talk about how to film yourself.
Film in 4K
While this is not essential, shooting in 4K resolution, has enormous benefits in the editing process when you film yourself. It allows you to create two angles from one shot.
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Most of the time, you will probably export your final video at 1080p, so you can crop in on the original 4K without compromising on the resolution.
Using both the original and the crop-in helps you vary your angles, as well as enabling your cut more seamlessly between takes if you want to stay away from jump cuts.
Use Multiple Cameras
Every vlogger is vying for attention and subscribers, so why not grab your viewers’ attention by taking your video to the next level, and adding two angles by filming with two different cameras while you film yourself.
To do this, use one camera as your main shot, facing you front on, while another camera can give you a closeup, slightly off to the side.
Something to keep in mind when shooting with multiple cameras is to not break the 180-degree rule. To avoid this make sure all your angles are front on or on one side, but not both sides. If you do break this rule, it can be disorientating for the viewer.
See the video below on the importance of the 180-degree rule.
Isn’t this why you want to vlog? To show off your creative side to the world? One of the biggest pieces of advice I got from the filmmaking community in my area was to never repeat yourself. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of doing the same ideas and techniques over and over again when you vlog. When it comes to being creative, there are endless possibilities to be creative when your film yourself.
Why not try a variety of angles? Try a super wide shot or a super close-up, or position your camera on the floor facing up and stand looking down at it. You could mount a GoPro to your car/bike/kayak for a more exciting adventure shot. The world is your oyster, live it and film it any creative way you want.
One contraption, that was suggested by a cinematographer friend of mine, was the Redrock Micro One Man Crew Director Motorized Parabolic Slider. For someone who has a bit of a vlogging equipment budget, this filming gadget allows you to have a moving camera angle, even if you stood still and have no additional crew members.
Here’s another creative idea when you film yourself, what about changing the way you enter the frame? Walking and talking to the camera while filming yourself could help bring energy to your videos. You can achieve stable moving footage by using a gimbal. If you’re filming on your phone, check out this stabilization device.
Have you ever prepared for a public presentation, only to freeze up when you get in front of an audience? It happens to the best of us, and freezing in front of the camera can happen as well.
But you need to remember one simple rule “It’s digital, not film, you can redo a take.”
If you are worried about freezing up as soon as you press record, just practice, practice, practice and you will begin to relax when filming yourself.
Practicing your shot, what you are going to say, what you want the video to look like beforehand will help you appear more confident on camera.
If you feel that things don’t feel natural, doesn’t mean you won’t find your groove eventually. What’s important is to be authentic on camera and find a style that feels right for you, rather than copying someone else’s — audiences love authenticity and mistakes! If you make a mistake, it just shows your authentic side, and that will have you win more viewers.
I go over in detail more in my blog post How To Vlog With A Smartphone & Gimbal – 5+ Best Smartphone Vlog Tips for Beginners for more ways to be natural in front of the camera.
Post-production is the stage where all filming is done and it is the time to review, edit, and distribute videos.
Go Over Your Previous Videos
In order to perfect your craft, you have to learn from your mistakes. You need to have a little bit of a humble attitude if you want to perfect the craft of vlogging/filmmaking.
The best way to learn from your mistakes is to rewatch your previous videos and take notes on how you can make your next vlog videos even better.
Also, asking others around you for their input is the perfect way to uncover things that you may not be seeing. Take all feedback about your filming work constructively, and use all the information gathered to learn from and improve upon the next time you film.
Edit Your Videos Yourself
You’ve filmed a video or film yourself, and now it’s time for the other half of the battle: the post-processing stage. As with filming, this step requires a good mix of both creativity and technical knowledge.
Some free video editing tools exist, like Apple iMovie, but they’re often less robust than paid options, offer only a few file formats, or have limited functionality.
As with many of the tips above on how to film yourself, you will need to learn how to edit through practice and watching youtube clips on how to edit. Websites like Video Copilot, Skillshare, and Red Giant Tutorials offer lots of very specific tutorials to help you improve your video content.
One of the most important takeaways from the filmmakers I interviewed is to remember your creative goal: to tell a great story.
Go beyond the basics—cutting away extraneous footage and correcting the order of your clips—and take the opportunity to make your film aesthetically pleasing and dramatically compelling so as to evoke the right emotions and effectively impart your intended message.
Use your practical and technical knowledge in achieving this instead of just adding a bunch of effects to impress your viewers.
When it comes to vlogging videos you film yourself, there are many different avenues to choose from.
First, you should start with YouTube as this platform is the go-to social media service for vloggers. Plus, once your video is on YouTube, you can embed it on various other platforms.
If your social media content is about promoting your business, try sharing it on LinkedIn. Sharing your videos on Twitter is really easy as all you have to do is just drag and drop your clip onto your Twitter post, or use Twitter Media Studio to take things up a level.
If you are thinking about sharing your vlogging videos on Instagram, make sure your videos are over a minute long so they can be uploaded directly from your computer onto your Instagram TV account.
Your video will still appear on someone’s feed, without you having to get your phone or external plugins involved. Make sure that you add relevant hashtags when sharing on social media to assure that your videos get as many viewers as possible.
Do you see how easy it is to film yourself? You don’t need a large crew to get any filming done, because anything video-related can be accomplished by one person even with a standard smartphone.
Just remember the real skill to filming yourself successfully, is understanding the practice makes perfect to master your vlogging craft.
Whether you’re a vlogger, adventurer, or simply looking to promote your business online, these tips will help you excel at being about to film yourself.
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.