For my current unit in Journalism at university, I am learning how to ‘vlog’ (video blog) and will be creating a series of vlogs over the next three months. My first vlog is just a quick introductory video; all about me in under two minutes!
Not going to lie, I was very anxious about this task. Prior to beginning this unit, I didn’t even know how to pronounce vlog… (Vee-log or vlog??) However sometimes the only way to develop skills is learning by doing, so that’s exactly what I did.
First up was planning what content I wanted to include. I’m lucky to have such an engaged community on my Almost Jane Facebook Page so I asked them what they would be interested in hearing about. The top answers were autism, mental health and vegetarian life. I did have to think about whether I felt comfortable including my mental health issues in this vlog. In the end however I decided that I can’t be just a ‘part time’ advocate. I believe it is important to be honest about struggles with mental illness and if I want to be authentic to my online persona I need to include it in my introduction.
You would think it would be easy enough to ramble on about my life off the top of my head for two minutes (just ask any of my friends!), yet somehow in front of a camera my capacity to form coherent sentences disappeared. I didn’t want to read off a script, as I think it’s important to make eye contact and engage with your audience. In the end I broke my video down in to sections, so I only had small sections to focus on at a time. I was worried this may make the video seem disjointed, so I added in the ‘Four fun facts in under a minute’ concept. I felt that this helped the video flow a little better, especially once I added in the timer at the bottom of the screen to turn it in to a challenge.
Once I had my content, the next challenge was how to shoot my vlog. I spent a fair bit of time researching and watching popular YouTubers to get ideas for how I wanted to present myself.
I was most engaged by the vloggers who appeared more ‘casual’. Sitting on the floor, sprawled on the couch; it felt more conversational and personal. I had purchased a tripod to use with my phone, so I could adjust height and angles to suit where I wanted to film. I decided to use a bookcase as my backdrop… but first I had to remove all the ‘stuff’ that finds its way shoved in any available shelf space…
At first I tried sitting in a chair in front of my backdrop, but it just didn’t feel right. I felt a bit stiff and formal. So then I tried sitting on the ground and that felt much more natural. I could move around, change position and still remain in the frame. I was also sitting in front of a window, so was able to get natural light without casting too may weird shadows and angles.
The most challenging aspect of the whole process for me was definitely the actual filming. For some reason I really struggled to look at the camera and not at the screen. It just didn’t feel natural not having something to look at. In the end I stuck a brightly coloured arrow just above the camera lens to remind me to look at that and not at the screen. I really felt it was crucial to maintain eye contact with the audience.
My first vlogging experience was definitely not as bad as I thought it would be and hopefully by the time I finish this unit, I’ll be a natural…!