Creating do-it-yourself quality video for your food blog is possible with the right equipment and savvy know-how. Here are my top tips to get you started.
Once you realized you'd mastered the art of food photography, you probably gave a little sigh of relief, right? But not so fast! What about video?
The ever evolving media landscape means that food bloggers can’t (unfortunately) rely solely on beautiful pictures and engaging commentary to grab the attention of their audience anymore. Many experts believe that Facebook is obsessed with video and Father Facebook himself has said the site will be "mostly" video in five years. This can be a scary thought if you’ve never tried your hand at video or worse, you’ve tried and were scared away.
The good news is that video can be a part of your blog production and social media skill set. It will take a little bit of climbing a learning curve. But it can be done.
Here are The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Creating Video For A Food Blog:
#1 - Lighting — Good lighting is as important for video as it is for photography. The key difference is that shifts in sun/shade can make big swings in the consistency of the look and exposure of your video. If you have a great natural lighting set up at home for photography, you should be okay. But if you (like me) have found that your schedule doesn’t always allow for bright, by-the-window video shoots, you may want to consider a powerful, but soft artificial light. Here’s the one I use and highly recommend.
I like it because it’s not too large and not so powerful that it imparts harsh shadows. I use it now exclusively for all my photo and video production.
#2 - Camera — Just as with food photography, you can do good video with just your iPhone or Android. The main issues I had in using my iPhone were 1) storage and 2) inability to see what I was filming. If neither of these is an issue for you, then by all means, don’t invest in too much equipment until you get the hang of video editing (by far the hardest part of creating video). But, if like me, you really want to be able to see what you’re filming while you’re filming it OR if you don’t want your iPhone freezing up because the storage is full, consider an equipment upgrade. I use this camera and recommend it.
It’s lightweight, easy to use, has a flip forward view finder (my fave part) and a removable storage card slot. It also accepts a wireless microphone hook up, a very important part of video quality.
#3 - Microphone — It may seem like video is the only important part of video, but actually audio is one of THE most important parts of video. No matter how good you, your food, your hands or your pans look, if the sound stinks, your video just won’t look professional. For true “hands in pans” video where you never speak or do a voice-over, this may not be an issue. But I recommend getting a simple (but reliable) wireless microphone just in case. You never know when you’re going to want to narrate what’s happening on screen in post-production editing. This is the microphone I have.
It’s very inexpensive and nothing fancy, but does good quality. And bonus — it connects to my iPhone and my video camera.
#4 - Music — If you’re not narrating your videos (or even if you are), you’ll likely want a little music to move things along and add interest to the viewer (remember what I said — audio is SO important in video). Music can be a challenge, though, not only to find, but also to understand how it fits into your video. To find music for my videos, I have used three different sources:
- Pros: Free!
- Cons: Limited selection. Not customizable in terms of length
- Pros: Inexpensive. Wider selection of choices than YouTube
- Cons: Also not customizable in terms of length
- Pros: Completely customizable in terms of length, which can be a huge time saver during the editing process. If you want an audio file that’s 43 seconds long, Sonicfire will generate a file for you to that length. You can also customize the instrumental composition. Don’t want flutes? Take ‘em out. Want only piano? It’s your choice.
- Cons: It can get expensive. You pay for the software (not cheap) and also each song you buy (definitely not cheap). All that power comes at a price.
#5 - Audio Transitions — Let me say this again if you haven’t heard me. Audio is SO important in video. Once you’ve chosen that perfect music to play during your video, you don’t want to ruin it with abrupt endings or sloppy coupling. I’ll say upfront I’m no audio editing expert. (I’m no video expert either, ha!) That’s why I use SonicFire Pro (mentioned above), but I have learned that the easiest trick to making your audio editing less abrupt is to simply fade in and fade out. Here’s what it looks like to fade the audio on your music (audio) track in your video editor software. You simply drag that little button over to create the fade.
#6 - Video Editing Software — I’ve used iMovie for iPhone, iMovie for Mac and I now use Final Cut Pro. I personally like Final Cut Pro the best. It’s the most customizable (you can move the text around on the screen, which I love), but it’s also the most complex. Think of it like shooting photography on manual setting on your DSLR. You can do more with Final Cut Pro, but the learning curve is more steep. I know Lindsay at Lean Green Bean Blog has done some fun videos with Flipagram and Deanna at Teaspoon of Spice shared a video with me just recently that she did exclusively on iMovie for iPhone. I would suggest starting with small, easy videos on a basic editor (like Flipagram or iMovie) and once you get the hang of that, you can work your way up to Final Cut Pro.
#7 - Invest in an Intro — I paid a really small amount to a video editor friend to put our logo to music and make it “live/animated.” I highly recommend this as a way to add a really polished branded feel to all of your videos. Keep it short, though. Long intros take up valuable time at the beginning and you may lose your audience before you ever get started. Think of this like the first time you had someone do a professional logo for you. It’s totally worth a little bit of $$. Here's what ours looks like, in case you haven't seen it before:
#8 - Understand the basic anatomy of editing — This is admittedly where it gets a little tough. The first time I logged into iMovie, I wanted to close my Mac and run screaming to the comfort of my kitchen. But as I always say, if you want this to be your profession, you gotta be professional. Burying your head in the sand of “But I don’t want to have to learn a new skill” isn’t going to get you far. Here’s the basic anatomy of the commands and areas I use most in Final Cut Pro; iMovie will be very similar.
#9 - Don’t Let the Audience Get Bored — You may not realize this, but any TV show you watch these days transitions it's screen about every 3 to 4 seconds. Don’t believe me? Count ‘em next time you’re watching your favorite show. This is what makes producing your own video feel and look a bit amateurish (well that, and shaky camera work, but I trust you know how to fix that.) Unless you’re lucky enough to have deep pockets and a camera crew waiting in the wings, you’re likely going to be shooting your video by yourself with one camera. The way you keep that LONG reel of video from looking the same is by finding ways to drop in still shots, graphics and transitions. Example: if you’re leading off your video with yourself talking about the dish, drop in a picture of the dish while your voice audio continues. Need to show that something bakes at 350 degrees? Drop in that title and cut away from your hands in pans. Think about ways you can slice up your visual transitions into shorter increments. This is how I broke up a long intro that I needed to include in a sponsored video with shots of the recipe and foods I was talking about.
#10 - Transition Carefully, Crop Stealthily — I know I just said to break everything up, but doing it effectively means that you utilize tools like transition and blurs. Quick, self-produced blogger videos don’t have to be as polished as commercial videos, nor does your audience expect them to be. Just as blogs resonate uniquely with audiences in a way that no other media does, so do our videos. You’re not trying to be the Food Network. If your audience wanted Food Network, they’d simply turn on the TV. They want you. But you also want to maintain quality by using subtle, smooth transitions.
In terms of stealthy cropping, here’s a little known secret. You can mimic the look of a video camera “panning” across a dish or set of food by using what’s known as “Ken Burns” cropping. Drop a still shot into your video, make it 5 or so seconds long and then use your crop tool to “guide” the camera in the video.
I hope these tips are helpful. I wish I could say simply reading them will mean that you’ll be producing amazing video today. But as I’ve said, it takes a little while to get up to speed. I have faith you can do it though. It’s like the first time your pressed publish on your blog or took that first picture. You Just. Have. To. Get. Started.
And please be sure to come back and share with me your tips, what you learn and all your new videos!
Creating great food blog videos is possible w/the right equipment and savvy know-how. Here's how by @healthyaperture Tweet this