Lessons from my first “vlog”

The sirens from one firetruck filled the air… then two sirens simultaneously blared for attention… then three… then what seemed like an unimaginable number of sirens took over the soundwaves.

I had just turned on my new gas stove for the first time, maybe I did something wrong…?

As a new resident of Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles, I knew I wanted to start sharing my experiences in the city. But I could not have predicted such a wild event occurring my first night here.

My first ‘vlog’

With all the hubbub outside, I opened my balcony door and noticed a heavy layer of smoke. With 19% battery, I grabbed my iPhone and headed out to see if my apartment complex was the source of the fire or what else had happened.

After heading downstairs, I walked down the street to find the source of the smoke — a smoke shop one block away. Yes, that’s right, a smoke shop.

The fire seemed eventful enough for a livestream, so I opened up Periscope and started shooting. Mistake number one — I’ll get back to that in a second.

After nine minutes of streaming, I had over 100 concurrent viewers and counting, but I wanted to get better shots of the fire so I ended the Periscope and began taking shots of the fire, the firetrucks, the blocked off streets, the helicopter overhead, and other emergency vehicles.

I headed home with 1% battery left.

Time to edit

I’ve made videos before for school and put together some reviews when I worked for 9to5mac, but this was my first time putting together a ‘life experience’ vlog. As it turns out, the footage wasn’t vlog-worthy.

The final product looks like raw footage from a news channel, rather than a vlog with a story or any narration.

The footage wasn’t even worthy of narration.

The lessons

Vlogging is something I want to dig further into, so I’m taking the multitude of lessons from this video and making sure I apply them to the next one.

  • Don’t record vertical video … even when Periscoping. It turns out you can livestream horizontally if you turn off the rotation lock.
  • Think you got enough footage? Think again. During the editing process, I found myself grasping for worthwhile content because I had only shot a few seconds of random events rather than keeping the tape rolling.
  • Stay charged, my friends. I had been at my desk for a few hours yet I had let my phone die to 19%. From now on, I’ll keep my phone charged up whenever I’m at my desk and make sure I have an external battery charged up.
  • Tell a story & narrate. Perhaps it was the pressure of having a dying phone or being surrounded by dozens of strangers who would have thrown shade at me for narrating, but something made it so I didn’t want to talk while recording. A vlog has words and a story to tell. This video didn’t.

Beyond those rudimentary lessons, there were a few other things that I can deal with for now, but they would be good to address if my vlogs pick up traction.

  • The iPhone won’t cut it. Especially in lowlight, the iPhone’s video quality wasn’t as spectacular as I’d want. Down the line, I’d like to explore with a more professional camera.
  • iMovie won’t cut it. What a horrific experience. I think the older versions used to have more options, but now it’s terribly difficult to cut in certain pieces and bring them into the timeline.

Lastly, I would like to try a few different styles of vlogging for the next couple of videos. One style would be recording a bunch of content then narrate when I edit the video, or the style would be narrating/speaking while recording.

The latter sounds more natural and realistic, but the former may get me over this introvert-based pressure hurdle.

Your feedback is welcome here

While writing content and creating stories is nearly therapeutic for me, knowing that I’ve made an impact on other people makes it even more worthwhile.

I’d love feedback on the video and this post. The most memorable feedback I’ve received is, “Don’t record vertically, ever!” Got it 😬

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