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A Day in the Life of YouTuber Tanner Patrick

We spoke with singer-songwriter, Tanner Patrick and he gives us a glimpse of a day and the life of a single person online video channel.

Tanner Patrick: New Music Every Week

Tanner Patrick is a musician who has delighted audiences across the globe. Starting his YouTube channel in 2011, he has garnered the attention of over 1 million subscribers and earned over 100 million video views.

Start of the Day

Maintaining a successful YouTube channel begins with research. Tanner shares that his morning begins with keeping up to date with current trends. He states, “I wake up, and I usually check the charts on iTunes. I always like to know what’s going on, especially with music and the music world, to see if there are any new releases or songs that I would cover. So I’m always looking at the outside first to see what’s going on with the rest of the world. Then I usually just start producing.”

He continues, “If there’s’ not a cover song that needs to be done immediately, I usually just start writing and producing original stuff. But it doesn’t ever stop (chuckles), which is kind of a blessing, but it’s a ton of work. I do just nonstop work from the moment I get up; I’m either working on a song of my own, a cover song, producing a video or editing a video.”

Performance Days

On his performance days — days when he is singing — Tanner says, “…It’s a lot of what you would expect when you go into a studio to record a song. It’s a lot of warming up, and it’s a lot of me banging my head against the wall trying to get the right takes. Because I’m kind of a perfectionist, sometimes I’ll record the whole song and then start over because I didn’t like the way it sounded. So those days are really hard, and sometimes I’ll sing for five or six hours until I like it.”

After that, Tanner jumps right into mixing the song the same day that he records. He expresses that, “I record it, and I just work as fast as I can on it. Until I crash and fall asleep, then wake up the next day, keep producing.” Once the song is mixed and mastered, Tanner gets some rest then goes into video production phase. “I kind of restart the whole process by performing the video.”

Production Days

Tanner has a very run-and-gun approach to producing his videos. His crew is made up of him and one other person, which is a formula he found, “…just works.” He continues in saying, “We just work together to come up with the right shots and usually go very on-the-fly. Like, sometimes it’s like driving around, ‘oh that looks like a cool spot’, then we just pull over and start recording… There’s very little pre pro into this.”

Adding on to his run-and-gun process, Tanner shares “…we do have a shot list, but it’s never written down; we just do a mental check as we’re going. It’s like, ‘did we do the wide one? Did we do the face one?’ We just call it what it is, you know? I would say it’s usually about 20 different shots of the whole song. I perform the song 20 times and about roughly 40GB on the card every time.”

In addition to the video shoot, Tanner will have a photo shoot: “We always make the iTunes & Spotify cover art, so we’ll do a photoshoot at the end of the video, and we usually take about 30 photos — sometimes up to 100 photos — and then pick one of those to be the album artwork. And sometimes it also ends up being the same for [the YouTube thumbnail].”

Post-production Days

At the conclusion of a video shoot, Tanner goes right into post-production. Because his background is in music and not video, editing didn’t come as easy to him at first. “It used to take a really long time to edit a video, mostly because I was trying to use iMovie and it was very difficult. So the first year on my channel, it took me like a week to edit a video.” He continues enthusiastically, “I’m a huge fan of post now. That’s like my favorite thing. And I think it’s because I can, like, get behind computer again, which is where I did a lot of the music production.”

While describing his workflow, Tanner explains, “I’m very anal about, like, my organization, so all my clips have to be, like, perfectly colored, numbered, and labeled. Then I just get to work.” While editing Tanner seeks to, “…find all of the moments in the video that match, not just match the music from a technical standpoint, but emotionally.”

Tanner summarizes that it usually takes two days to edit a video before he posts it to his YouTube Channel, which he says makes the whole process worth it.

“Part of the reward is creating something.” Tanner says excitedly, “You just created and go ‘yeah like I did that, and I’m proud of that!’ Then sharing with other people, [it’s] like the icing on the cake. I just give it to people, so it feels nice.”

Memorable Videos

One of the most recent projects Tanner was a part of as of this writing was a project called “Everybody Loves Disney” produced through his MCN Maker Studio. Tanner collaborated with another producer on a song from “Alice in Wonderland” called “A World of My Own.”


“It was just so fun to create something that was totally different!” He describes how he wanted to create something that felt like he was in a world of his own. “We went deep into these woods where there was nothing and no one, nothing around. We just filmed me playing in the woods, and I felt like I was like six years old again.”

As satisfying as creating a video from conception to completion is, there are challenges that come along with the process.

Biggest Challenges

Working as a mostly one person team comes with a lot of self-criticism. “The worst part of what I do is self-doubt,” Tanner states. “The worst part is creating something and wondering ‘are people going to like this, or am I wasting my time just creating something that only I like?’” Additionally, Tanner shares that, because he does so much by himself, his social life has been strained. “Social life kind of goes out the window and you become a slave to the work, but you love the work, so it’s tough.” However, the doubt and sacrifices are worth it for him.

Biggest Rewards

“Being able to create as an artist and being able to have it appreciated by people and those people being affected by it in a positive way is the best part,” Tanner explains. “It is just so great when I can create something that other people enjoy as much as I enjoyed creating it. It feels like they [created] it with me or something.” He goes on to say, “People have encouraged me to keep going on. I don’t think they knew how much they were encouraging me. [I’m sure they thought] that they were just telling me how they felt about something, but it was so important for me to see that positive review.”


Operating an online video channel takes more work than just turning on a camera. It takes planning, support and a lot of time and sacrifice. From Tanner’s experience, persistence is the key. He shares, “I’ve found certain videos will really catch fire, but not all of them do. So if you don’t continue you might not see. If your first five-six videos don’t catch fire, they’re not like getting a lot of love, that doesn’t mean that the eighth won’t. It’s a journey, you just gotta keep telling yourself that you can do it, and someone is going to like it.”

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Multi-Platform Strategies

Why it’s essential to make platform-specific edits and how to optimize them.

Socializing Your Social Media Edits

Social media is a great way to spread the word for that all-essential message you need to get out to the public. However, not all services are created equal, nor should they be treated as such. If you’re distributing the same video across all systems, you’re not only going to miss your audience, you might even drive them away.

There are two hurdles to mass social media distribution. The first is wildly different technical requirements for video on each platform. The second is the style and trends expected by the audience of each service. Between the two, it’s all but impossible make just one video that optimally achieves all your goals. Yet, no one wants to waste time editing 10 different productions on the same campaign.

Fortunately there’s a logical workflow you can follow that will not only make your life easier, but will actually make your brand stronger and more cohesive. A logical creative progression is the key to balancing efficiency with maximizing your video’s social media penetration.


Faithful Youtube is the starting point where you can post your long-form message. Even unverified accounts can post videos up to 15 minutes, and that’s just the start, so go all out. YouTube viewers tend to search out content that they’re interested in, so it’s a great base of operations for all the other sites to lead back to. Be sure to present the core purpose of your video within the first 30 seconds to hook your audience. Use the rest of the video to go into the finer details.

Because there’s a common, quality encoding standard between them (1080p, h.264), you can and probably should post this video as-is to Dailymotion as well, however you won’t be able to rely on all the extra features. Vimeo is another consideration as long as you’re under the file size limit for posting.


Facebook is up next with small tweaks. Research shows that up to 85% of social media video is played silently, and Facebook mutes video by default. Consider revising the beginning of your original video to rely less on dialog and use text splash screens for the most important points.

Don’t overdo it though. Long bouts of text should be saved for the description.

Facebook’s advice is that videos that are brief and aligned with current trends do best in the News Feed. Your first five seconds should be entrancing both with and without audio. If people are interested, they will most certainly turn the sound on and start over.

Consider shortening your video as well. Users have a lot of ground to cover in Facebook and will lose attention quickly. It’s not where they want to research in depth, so shorter videos often get more views.


From here, you should isolate the best, most compelling moments of your video to make a version approximately one minute long. Because you’ve paired down your essential content into such a small package, it should be you’re most enticing introduction to your topic. This is perfect for Twitter. Why? Again, it’s all down to how people use the platform.

Twitter has stated that the majority of users discover the content they watch in their feed. It’s rare that people seek out specific content. Your video here should be a gateway for a user to find and engage with your content. If they like what you’re pushing, they’ll seek out more information. Odds are, though, it won’t be via Twitter.


Now take your one minute masterpiece and shave off another thirty seconds. With a thirty second spot, you can create your Instagram experience.

There are two considerations here. Instagram viewers tend to avoid text, so take as much out as you can. Concentrate instead on striking, quality imagery. Sell yourself though visual stimuli.

You have up to a minute with this service, but keep in mind that the get in late, get out early rules still apply, and longer video is not always better. For Instagram your video should be all about visual quality over quantity.

Tech Specs

Along the way you’re going to have technical considerations to deal with. Careful research will yield some specs you can consider universal — h.264, audio sample rate, progressive scan — but at some point you may want to crop your video from 16:9 to 1:1, so keep text within the center square of your screen. You’ll also have to scale down your resolution and bitrate as you go. Set up batch encoding presets that will adhere to each format and these hurdles are easily crossed.

Social media platforms afford an unprecedented modern means of promoting your message or brand, but if you’re concentrating on only a few of them, or failing to cater to the abilities of each platform, you’re severely missing the mark.

Take advantage of the unique features — like playlists, overlays, video loops and thumbnails of each site — to get creative with your brand. Just because they’re all different doesn’t mean you can’t work smart and progress all your edits towards a common goal.

Fool-Proof Formats

Using these three formats as starting points should satisfy all requirements for virtually every social media site. Specifications for these sites are constantly in flux, so check for updates often and adapt your plan as necessary.

MP4, H.264, 1920×1080, 16×9, Progressive, High Profile, VBR 2-pass @ ~4mbps, source framerate ~<60fps (constant), AAC-LC stereo @ 48khz stereo, 320kbps, < 15 min, < 2GB [500mb for basic Vimeo]

MP4, H.264, 1920×1080, 16×9, Progressive, High Profile, VBR 2-pass @ ~4mbps, Source framerate ~<40fps, (constant), AAC-LC @44.1khz mono, 128kbps, <140 sec., <512Mb

Mp4, h.264, 1080×1080, 1:1, Progressive, VBR 2-pass @ ~3.5mbps, 30fps (constant), AAC-LC Stereo @ 44.1khz mono, 128kbps, < 60 sec., < 1Gb

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5 Video Genres That You Can Make Without Picking Up A Camera

This post is brought to you by VideoBlocks. Learn more at VideoBlocks.com.

The dictionary defines a genre as a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique or the like. But for the videographer, a genre is a rich field of content that’s waiting to be mined.

It’s not always possible — or economically feasible — to shoot a particular video in a particular location or in a particular manner; that’s where a video content house becomes an asset. It provides the needed content that can be used as-is or blended in with other footage based on need and desire.

Here are five video genres where use of a video content service like VideoBlocks can be successful.

1. TV Commercials

A TV commercial aims to create a mood and make the focus of the commercial palatable and attractive to the viewer. These could be pharmaceutical ads or political ads, for example, which involve seeing crowds of people in an outdoor setting, or a panorama of a major city or small town.

A TV ad shouldn’t look contrived and so careful selection of the content that is to be seen is paramount. Being able to pick and choose from existing content allows for a more creative approach.

2. Music Videos

Where else can you find cars racing, people dancing, buildings exploding and pretty much anything else you can think of occurring in a few minutes?

Being able to choose from existing content means that you are not constrained by cost or location and can make the visual experience as wild or sedate or otherworldly as the music suggests.

3. Corporate Videos

A corporate video must show a company or its employees in a positive light. This requires that everything the viewer sees is sharp, concise and free from ambiguity. Video is a cost-effective business tool for pointing out the value of a company and can encompass promotions, demonstrations, information and can even strive to educate.

There is an almost endless range of existing content that can be used, from panoramas from across the world, to scenes from outer space or the oceans, all with the purpose of creating an attractive bubble around the company’s core message.

4. Promotional Tourism Videos

The overriding purpose of a tourism video is to show off the locale in as positive a light as possible — while also conveying what is desirable about visiting and seeing it for yourself. This can include aerial shots — extremely expensive to shoot oneself — which help to convey a sense of grandeur and scale through a birds-eye view.

And whether it’s on safari or in an urban setting, it’s also important to show people enjoying themselves; eating in restaurants and seeing the sights.

5. News Segments

News segments require images that stand out and make their point succinctly and quickly. Holidays or city skylines, airports or scenes from around the world, the advantage of stock footage is that it can provide accent and background imagery that is generic and so usable for any kind of commentary.

VideoBlocks provides its members with access to over 2 million HD and 4K video, with more being added all the time to the royalty-free library, including After Effects Templates. Additionally, members can purchase video directly from artists in the Videoblocks Marketplace.

VideoBlocks’ aim is to provide content to all creatives without the historically large charges that negate use by all but the large production houses and agencies. Click here to get a 7-day free trial from Videoblocks today!

COMEDY: Dos and Don’ts of Prank Video

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has steadily grown to become the biggest video sharing website on the planet. Through the years there have been many genres of video that have shown to be the YouTube key to success and one of those genres is the Prank Video.

If you’ve been thinking of making a prank video then you’re in luck! By the end of this article you should have all the necessary information about creating a great quality prank video that hopefully grows your channel.


When it comes to prank videos, YouTube has its fair share of creators who focus on this specific genre of video. But there are several elements that many new creators fail to think about when starting their own channels, the biggest of which is the equipment necessary for making a good quality prank video.

Cameras like the Sony CX625 Handycam are perfect for this shooting style. A quick and easy zoom function on a camera that fits into the palm of your hand makes it ideal for your cameraman to hide while you prank the unsuspecting public.

Just having a good camera isn’t enough to make it in the world of prank videos. You’ll also need a good microphone. The best type to use is lavalier microphone that clips to the talent’s clothing.


Microphones like the RØDELink Filmmaker Kit, which comes with a broadcast lavalier microphone and works at a range of about 100 metres, are perfect because they allow your camera operator to hide away somewhere and still get clean sound.


Now comes the actual planning and production of the prank video. The planning part is fairly simple; once you’ve thought of what kind of prank video you want to shoot, you need to find a location that works and carry out the prank. Just make sure that the location you’re shooting will allow you to do so, and that you get consent from all the participants — after they’ve fallen for your tricks, of course. You can do this by having them fill out simple location release forms or talent release forms. Templates for both can be found easily through a Google search.


The execution of a prank video is very different to other content on YouTube. Remember, your camera operator will probably be hidden somewhere, so you’ll need to be in constant communication with them either to let them know when to start shooting or to find out if they managed to get the shot you wanted.

Another important factor at play when executing a prank video is the prank itself. In order to get the best possible versions of your prank, you’ll need to rehearse your part at least a few times. Once you have practiced it enough, you can try it out with the public.

Inconspicuous equipment like this Sony Handycam and a RØDELink wireless lavalier microphone are perfect for prank videos.


It’s difficult to capture a prank on video without hiding the camera. The minute your target sees the lens they’ll know what’s going on.

Many channels have their camera person shooting from the inside of a car or from a large distance away. Having the camera further away makes it easier to record a prank as there’s a lesser likelihood of the target seeing the camera. This is why most prank channels use digital camcorders rather than DSLRs; they typically have a powerful built-in zoom that covers larger distances.


Creators making prank videos will encounter very specific problems and issues when it comes to the actual recording of the video. One issue leads to another. Keeping the camera discreet at a distance makes it difficult to keep the shot stable. Most prank videos will be shot handheld, so keeping a stable shot becomes trickier.

Using camera handle rigs like the Opteka DSLR Handle allows you to remove that unnecessary shake while keeping the camera physically close to you, giving you the ability to keep the camera discreet while you shoot.


We all know the importance of having good lighting when filming something. Prank videos however, are a bit of a complex issue when it comes to lighting. You can’t exactly set up film lights around the area you plan on shooting because it will basically tell people that something is going on. You’ll have to rely on whatever natural light is available to you. If you’re shooting during the day, you shouldn’t have any issues, but if you’re filming at night, try to find a location that is well-lit by either a street light or something similar, and use a camera that can handle low-light situations.


youtube.com/fouseyTUBE. A channel that has been accused on several occasions of staging pranks.

Even though prank videos are quite popular on the internet, there is a stigma attached to them. There’s a belief they’re all faked — either set up with paid actors or edited in a way that will get the best reactions from audiences. Channels like fouseyTUBE have often been accused of faking pranks for the sake of getting views. Faking a prank video is not respected among the creative community since it’s seen as lying to the audience.

Many prank channels promote inappropriate and offensive behavior with the excuse “It’s just a prank.” Channels such as VitalyzdTv have uploaded videos that can be considered harassment and a clear violation of the law, which gives a bad example for new prank channels starting out and might influence a new creator to make some bad choices.

youtube.com/VitalyzdTv. A prankster well known but for many wrong reasons.


Some of the more popular prank videos are those that involve a play on words; you say one thing that sounds a certain way but means something else, getting an odd reaction. This makes for a great prank video with relatively benign results. Another popular type of prank video is the “everyone laughs” type, where a simple yet silly act gets anyone involved in a brighter spirit.

Remember, making someone laugh and brightening their day is a much better way to end a prank video than insulting them.

In summary, make sure you get all the necessary equipment for your type of prank videos and plan your pranks in advance so you can get the most satisfying reactions. Sticking within the boundaries of the law seems to be challenging for some prank channels, but if you successfully do it and also make your audience laugh without causing offense or harm to the people being pranked, you should have no problem gaining views and subscribers for your channel.

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TASCAM’s MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42: A Better Way For Broadcasting YouTube Videos

This post is brought to you by TASCAM and the MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42. To learn more, visit Tascam.com.

YouTube has galvanized the production of videos to the point where it’s no longer acceptable to just use the microphone attached to a camera. Having a quality production means having more than one microphone.

In fact, it requires the ability to add additional mics as needed and to control them so that the final results meet a high standard. This becomes especially true when the video is being streamed live, since any modifications must be made on the fly.

That’s why the MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42 places so much importance on ease of use and portability — regardless of whether the video is being made in a studio-like environment or on location, streaming live or being recorded for a later use. The US-42 supplies the missing link to a great YouTube production through a combination of hardware and software and only needs the addition of microphones and a computer or notebook to provide the means for capturing and acquiring great audio.

The US-42 is imposing, not in size but in features, which are readily available, easily activated and immediately understandable.

Say you’re doing an interview and need one microphone for yourself and another for the guest; just use both of the XLR/TRS analog combo jack microphone inputs. Or if you want to record a guitar, either input supports high impedance, so recording an electronic instrument directly is simple. And since there’s an input jack for attaching to a mobile device, adding in external audio is simplified.

Want to alter how someone’s voice sounds or add reverb? The controls are right there waiting. There’s even three self-lighting PON pads that, when pressed, play an audio file of your choosing that’s been prerecorded and stored on the computer. That’s one way to spice up a Skype audio call when the topics start to get a bit boring.

For hearing exactly what’s being recorded, there’s a choice of a standard-sized stereo jack for stereo headphones — playing the same signals outputted from both Line Out Left/Right jacks — or a stereo mini-headphone jack — supporting input/output for 4-pole headphones with mic and output for headset headphones.

To stream live, set the US-42 to Broadcast mode. Now you’re hearing everything that your audience hears. And thanks to an internal audio loopback function, any and all audio in the computer can be fed back and added into the recording. But should you prefer pre-recording for a later broadcast, switch to the Creator mode. Now the US-42 behaves like a standard USB audio interface, with the loopback feature disabled and all mic inputs routed separately to the computer. This makes the US-42 useful with digital audio workstations (DAWs) and video editing software.

The MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42 is more than a microphone preamp and USB audio interface. It ensures a crisp and clear sound quality through professional-caliber HDDA microphone preamps and provides high-resolution recording up to 24-bit/ 96 kHz on both PCs and Macs. The US-42 places every control right at your fingertips — it even has an illuminated On Air panel to let everyone know it’s show time. But its greatest strength comes in giving you control over the audio being recorded so that it sounds exactly the way you want it to.

Compatible with all major streaming software and services, the MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42 is a one-stop shop when it comes to adding in audio for live streaming or recorded video productions and is available now from TASCAM dealers at a street price of $179.99.

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Beauty Beyond Makeup: Producing a Makeup Tutorial

For an effective makeup tutorial, solid techniques for scripting, setting, lighting and shooting are just as important as cleaning eyeshadow brushes. Here’s a few tips on making the production value of cosmetics videos as shiny as Becca highlighter.

Anyone who’s dabbled in makeup knows the frustration of creating a cute look that seems nice under bathroom lights, but melts under natural light, fluorescent lights or just a camera flash. Recording and uploading that look for a digital audience requires even more effort, but by focusing on good scripting, tasteful settings, skilled lighting and artistic shooting, the production value of your videos will be as flawless as three concealers and a setting spray.


While many tutorials may seem spur-of-the-moment, scripting is actually an important part of cosmetics videos. Each video begins with some sort of concept, and it never hurts to practice the makeup look before setting up the camera — preferably in whatever lighting you plan to use for the video. There are even apps like YouCam or Sephora Virtual Artist, where people can test out hypothetical looks on themselves without busting out a single sponge.
This ties in with researching what you say in your videos! Way too many bloggers claim that their new fave product is “chemical-free” and thus in line with their organic vibes — except everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Whatever tropical-fruit-flavored detox tea the vlogger is currently suckling from a DIY mason jar mug has chemicals in it. And the toner/primer/holy grail dual-phase floral essence that they’re hawking is probably packed with alcohol anyway!

Scripting cuts down on shoot time because you spend less time wondering what you’ll do and say next. A script also makes it easier to add closed captioning to your videos once they’re uploaded so they can be more accessible and reach a larger audience. For a product-centered video, like a haul or first-impressions chat, try making a list of each thing with a short description next to it to start off. Tutorials are also much easier when the steps are written out beforehand. For more spontaneous videos, even just a quick outline will help organize your thoughts.


Most people typically shoot their videos in the same spot, building continuity. The most common backgrounds are either a large sheet of fabric or green screen, or a vanity with assorted pretty accoutrements. It’s really up to you how clean or cluttered you want the background to be.

Clean backgrounds bring the viewer’s focus to whatever you’re talking about, while cluttered backgrounds can show a bit of your personality or add to the content. Still, it’s best to have some sort of organization — even with a desk full of perfume — for a more professional atmosphere. Make sure you have enough space around you for the demonstration without tripping over anything, like a camera charger or empty Ulta box. To keep the camera from being reflected, most people use a smaller compact to apply makeup while filming.

Since the blogger is in the foreground, clothing is also integral to visual quality. There’s the matter of personal taste and making sure the outfit and makeup complement each other without either blending into the background, but it’s also best to avoid flashy patterns like plaid or chevron, because the horizontal scan lines of pixels on computer monitors have trouble displaying the vertical lines of the fabric. This can create a moiré effect, causing the blogger to practically vibrate across the screen, which is not the best aesthetic choice for a summer glam look.


Lighting is perhaps the most significant component of cosmetics videos for an accurate portrayal of the product colors. And, you know, for making ourselves look good. Diffused light is key, and it’s best to have equipment that bounces the light particles around rather than a glaring focused beam. I explain how to light videos with a traditional lighting kit in an old, poorly-lit video here, but the most common tools for cosmetics videos are soft boxes and ring lights.

Brooke Miccio uses a ring light.

A soft box is basically a normal lighting fixture with a box around it, consisting of reflective inner sides and diffusing material at the front. The reflective sides bounce the light around within the box, and the front filters the particles for that nice glow. This effect can also be achieved by using a normal light kit and a bounce board — or just a big piece of white cardboard — and angling the kit and board so your face gets the full luminance.

The ring light is the most popular setup for cosmetics videos; as Stephanie Musick from the DVe store explained it, the ring of light “washes out any blemishes” because of its simple, effective structure. It’s basically an illuminated doughnut with a stand in the center for a camera or phone to capture the “soft glow” that the tool provides.

Junie uses soft boxes, which you can see reflected in her eyes.

Natural light is any light from the sun! Golden hour occurs around sunrise and sunset, causing filmmakers to keep even odder hours than the average creative type, but diffused sunlight from 10 am to 4 pm is also pretty. Position the camera in front of a large window, then work quickly to capture the best light before it fades. This is where a streamlined script is handy.
If you look closely into the eyes of your favorite beauty vloggers, you can probably pick out what kind of lighting they use. This is the key light, and its purpose is to highlight the subject of the video. Soft boxes appear as many small squares, natural light is usually one blurry rectangle, and ring lights are a perfect halo in the pupil.

Color temperature is also a principal component of lighting for accurate swatches. To achieve a neutral atmosphere, make sure to white-balance your camera before filming. This means holding a white paper — or maybe a super matte white eyeshadow — in front of the lens so the camera resets and displays the rest of the spectrum correctly.


After the well-primed base of scripting, setting and lighting, you can now start shooting. Make sure the camera, if not on a tripod, is on a steady surface at an even angle, so the focus is on you rather than a wobbly frame. Vloggers typically shoot from the top of chest to the top of head while utilizing the rule of thirds. This concept can be visualized by imagining straight lines going vertically and horizontally across the screen to divide it into three even sections. The eye naturally goes towards the intersection of those lines, so you’ll want to center yourself on those points to capitalize on that effect.

Junie centers a product on the side third lines…
…and centers herself on the middle third!

Make sure you’re staying in frame through the camera’s flip-around viewfinder, an external camera monitor or place-marking. As opposed to tech tools, place-marking is where you just mark out the physical frame of the shot, like knowing that if you move past your desk too far to the right, you’ll be out of frame.

Most video cameras used by vloggers have automatic exposure and focus settings, but it’s still good to know what these controls are and how to use them. Exposure is the amount of light that comes to the sensor, determined by aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

If the setting is too bright or dark, it could change the exposure level and produce inaccurate colors.

Focus refers to how clearly defined the subject is. Bringing things to and from the camera could blur the focus, so watch out for that during close-ups of products. Remember to readjust the lens if the camera is using manual focus, or allow buffer time if the camera is set to automatic focus.

Everything mentioned here, from the first words of a concept to the final cut, can be personalized to give your videos individuality. Anyone can become a skilled vlogger with practice, even without high video quality, but the most important thing is that you have fun producing your content. With those tips in mind, blend away!

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How Old Media Practices Might Work on YouTube

Since the videos you post on YouTube could be viewed by anyone at anytime, why would a channel choose to release videos on a schedule? It all goes back to ideas developed by television.

Content on TV is released based on peak viewing hours and days in order to capture the most eyeballs watching at one time. The more eyeballs, the more they can charge for advertising within a given show. The term “Prime Time” refers to programs being shown between 8pm and 11pm. The order of what show comes at what time is based on when it will perform best and how well it leads into the next show to hopefully keep the viewer watching that channel.

So how does this apply to your YouTube channel?

Although TV and internet video are two different animals, they’re of the same species.

If you want to get viewers to choose your channel or videos as a destination, you’ll need more than having good SEO; you’ll need to train your viewers to tune into your newest content. That’s where the schedule comes in. Even though a viewer can and will watch your videos at every and any hour of the day, they’ll want to know when and how to keep up with your work.

Take KathleenLights as an example. On her channel banner, she indicates that there are new videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This gives her fans the knowledge that she will have a new video for them to enjoy on those days.

Nerdist is another great example of this; they have specific types of videos on different days. You can get News from them Monday through Friday, on Wednesday you can catch The Dan Cave show and on Thursday, it’s the Because Science show. This schedule feeds and trains their viewers to look for this content on these days; they know it’ll be there.

Consistency with video releases will start to make your content an appointment for the viewer. TV has shown that an audience that makes an appointment to view your content is a high value audience. They are much more likely to stay longer, watch any advertising and give you, the content creator, more control over their watching habits. These viewers are mostly known as fans. They’re the ones that comment on every video, give you thumbs up and down and are more likely to share what they see with a friend.

TV has shown that an audience that makes an appointment to view your content is a high value audience.

The last takeaway is the idea of a lead-in. A lead-in is a video or show that leads the viewer to another video or show. A lead-in show will have mass appeal and will allow you to pull in viewers with the hope of keeping them. If the viewer likes the show they’re watching, it’s likely they’ll stay on that channel for the next show.

This works with YouTube, as well. If you make a video that a viewer likes, it’s more likely they’ll stay on your channel and watch the other content you have created.

TV shows that are lead-ins, at the end, tell the audience to stay tuned for the next show. This is like a little promo for sticking around.

As an added bonus, the longer someone stays on your channel watching your videos, the higher your videos will rank when searched for.

Although YouTube is very different from TV, the next time you watch TV, observe how you can apply the decades of experience TV has to improve and grow your YouTube channel. The similarities are great; however, because internet video is brand new relative to TV, not all acquired information will be applicable. What is will be YouTube gold.

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These Contenders May Challenge YouTube’s Dominance

YouTube has been the video streaming platform of the internet since its inception in 2005. Now 10 years later, web video is more ubiquitous than ever thanks to platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Amazon Video Direct. Here, we’re going to look at these video platforms and see how they fit into the online video space.

YouTube’s dominance in the online video space has a lot to do with it’s simplicity, longevity and it’s largest asset; Google.

YouTube has long been the choice platform for web series, short films and vlogs since anyone can create an account and begin uploading and monetizing videos that can easily be found and searched both through its native platform and Google. It’s usually the first platform people think of when it comes to sharing video to the web, but as popular as YouTube is, there are other options out there that may better serve your specific purpose.

Facebook Video

Facebook Video allows any Facebook user to upload and share their videos with their network of friends and family natively on the platform. Facebook is favoring videos that are uploaded natively because the more people engage with your video in the News Feed, the more people stay on Facebook.

The sharing and tagging features of Facebook have increased the shareability of content, causing more and more videos to go viral through Facebook Video and further ingraining video into the social experience. At this moment there is no monetization feature, and videos generally have shorter lifespans than they would on the more searchable YouTube.


Even more ephemeral are Snapchat videos. The most unique feature of Snapchat is that the content created will expire within 24 hours of uploading, so followers are incentivized to actively watch the Stories so as not to miss out on the latest updates. The real draw to Snapchat is its collection of interactive and geo-location based filters, which is added to daily.

Many have turned to Snapchat as the place to go for vlogging, especially with the simple Snapchat Story feature, which allows users to add 10 second video Snaps to a published story in a snap (pun intended). Snapchat users can produce more content more quickly, without the expectation of a polished production. It’s the epitome of social video — created quickly, shared instantly, gone the next day.

Amazon Video Direct

Amazon Video Direct, is the newest player to enter the online video scene. Launching May of 2016, Amazon Video Direct is seeking to “[Help] content creators and visual storytellers reach millions of Amazon customers across hundreds of devices with the same distribution options and delivery quality available to major motion picture and television studios.”

While Facebook and Snapchat are making low quality, unmonetized video more prevalent, Amazon Video Direct is moving in the opposite direction with a platform that favors premium content and consistent output.

Once you fill out all the required information and distribution agreements, you can add your content to Amazon’s catalogue of video to be purchased or rented through Amazon. Though the platform is still new, this offering seems to be an ideal place for highly produced web series and films seeking distribution comparable to Netflix.


The landscape of online video has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Though YouTube still reigns supreme with online video when it comes to searchability and it’s Google backing, other platforms like Facebook and Snapchat on one side and Amazon Video Direct on the other are offering users unique features and benefits that may be a better fit for certain types of content.

YouTubers: be careful what you sign

MCNs work hard to keep viewers on their creators’ channels to keep money flowing to their advertisers, their creators and, of course, themselves. But they’re not all benevolent giants looking out for their creators’ best interests.

Is your YouTube channel ready to join a Multi-channel Network (MCN)? If you get involved with a good MCN, you’ll be free to create your content without worrying about all the left-brain stuff that the network’s people are paid to do. But as great as that may sound, there are risks to joining an MCN. Make sure to do your research before you sign up and know your rights if you end up unsatisfied.

Before You Sign

“I‘ve been offered a great contract by a top MCN! This could be my ticket to fame and fortune!” True — but it could also be your ticket to a lifetime of indentured servitude. Before you even consider signing that bottom line, read over the contract as thoroughly as you can. Look for words and phrases such as “in perpetuity” and “indefinitely.” Be certain that the effective dates of the contract are clearly spelled out and that there are bilateral provisions for renewals. Also make sure that you have easy access to the people who can help you if you have questions.

Even if everything looks on the up-and-up to you, remember: you don’t speak legalese. Before you sign any contract, hire a contract lawyer to read it. This advice can’t be stressed enough. Always keep in mind, the person who wrote that contract was looking out for their own best interests, whereas the lawyer you hire will be the one looking out for yours. Binding contracts are something that you should never take lightly.

Take the advice that your attorney offers; don’t think “oh, they wouldn’t do that.” If they wouldn’t, they also wouldn’t be making you sign a bad contract. Your attorney can also advise you on what is expected of you under the terms of your contract and what you can expect to get paid.

Multiple MCNs have been known to include language in their contracts that make it extremely difficult and/or expensive for a content provider to leave.

Perhaps most important, talk to your attorney about an “out” clause. Multiple MCNs have been known to include language in their contracts that make it extremely difficult and/or expensive for a content provider to leave. Even if the contract works perfectly for you now, that may not be the case in the future, and if it’s a long-term contract — as many are — that should be a major concern. There are numerous reasons you may want to get out of your contract. For instance:

• If your MCN gets so many clients that you get lost in the mix

• If they get bought out by a corporation that doesn’t give you the placement you deserve

• A lack of transparency in your business dealings with your MCN

• If an offer comes down the pike that suits you better

• If you feel it’s time to get out of the YouTube biz or change the type of content that you want to create

Businesses change strategies all the time, and you don’t want to get stuck in a contract that no longer works for you. If your contract includes a way out for you — usually involving a 30- or 60-day notice to your MCN — then there shouldn’t be any problem getting out of it. However, if you didn’t get that written into your contract, you may have a problem and will more than likely need to consult an attorney.

Disputes and Existing Contracts

Be proactive in your dealings with MCNs so that you don’t sign a bad contract. However, if you’ve already signed a contract with a multi-channel network, it may be a good idea to take it to your attorney and see what your rights are if you do have issues in the future.

If you’re in dispute with your network, the most important thing you can do other than hire a dependable lawyer is to continue to uphold your end of the contract, even if the MCN isn’t doing the same. If you end up in court — and that’s a real possibility if you signed a bad contract — the judge will take your honesty and good faith into consideration when making decisions.

The bottom line is that it’s very difficult to back out of a contract you’ve already agreed to, so make sure you know exactly what to expect from your MCN, and what they expect from you. The results of a contract dispute will be case specific and depend on your particular contract.

Learning from Others

Even the largest MCNs have current and former content creators claiming that they were coerced into signing bad contracts, and there have been multiple lawsuits over these contracts. The biggest and most well-known dispute is that between YouTube creator Ray William Johnson and Maker Studios. Johnson was Maker Studios’ biggest draw and was the first YouTuber to hit five million subs. Seeing the success of its number one star and wanting to capitalize on him even further, Maker Studios, according to Johnson, attempted to pressure him to sign a new contract that limited his access to his AdSense account and would reportedly take 40% of his earnings. The contract also would have required Johnson to give up 50% of his intellectual property rights to the show and his other animated web project, Your Favorite Martian. You can read Johnson’s side of the story, along with PDFs of contract offers and emails here.

More than a year later, months after his contract had expired, Johnson claimed that Maker still had not returned the AdSense money that belonged to him.

Another big legal dispute involves the gaming MCN Machinima, which deals with a lot of very young YouTubers. Machinima, which has come under FTC scrutiny over its supposed deceptive practices and has been accused of taking advantage of the youth and naiveté of its partners by having them sign contracts with indefinite terms. This was first brought to light in 2013 by former YouTuber Ben Vacas, aka Braindeadly, who quit YouTube over his contract with Machinima. In his final video, Vacas stated, “I woke up today hoping to make a video, but I went into a call with Machinima this evening and they said that my contract is completely enforceable. I can’t get out of it,” Vacas tells the camera. “They said I am with them for the rest of my life — that I am with them forever.

“If I’m locked down to Machinima for the rest of my life and I’ve got no freedom, then I don’t want to make videos anymore.” The screen fades to black.

The video closes with a written message: “I’m really sorry guys, but I am completely powerless. If this is the last thing I say, please don’t make the same mistake as I did and always read before you sign something.”

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5 super-niche YouTube channels we can’t stop watching

While many YouTubers try their hardest to appeal to the widest audience possible, the real trick is to narrow the focus.

You can’t be all things to all people, but you can be one ultra-specific thing that makes people wonder how they lived their lives before seeing an alien review movies or a chef make miniature versions of food.



Movie reviews are popular on YouTube. And quite frankly, they are all pretty much the same with nothing really new to offer. What makes BossLevel8 unique is that they don’t review movies. They review movie reviews. On their series Critique the Critics, host Teq reads terrible and often bizarre movie reviews from critics who say the dumbest things. It ranges from reviewers who hyperbolize the good and the bad of a film to those who go too far to make lame puns out of movie titles to one critic who went on a long-winded rant comparing Hellboy’s head to rice cakes. I imagine he thought he was being super clever.

The idea behind the show is to point out how people shouldn’t take movie reviews so seriously. Critics can be idiots, too. The commentary is interesting, sometimes thought-provoking and always hilarious!

Currently, the format of the show is completely improvised. Teq doesn’t even see the movie reviews he discusses until the camera turns on. All the prep work is done by his partner in crime, Cojac. Originally, however, Critique the Critics was structured much differently. It was scripted, there were sketches, and they even gave out awards to good movie reviews. This complete change in format is why we love BossLevel8’s videos. They don’t get locked down into one style and stick with it forever. They are willing to change and innovate on a dime, so their videos always feel fresh.



If movie reviews don’t do it for you, maybe you’d be interested in learning about the deeper meaning of popular films — as told by an alien. Wisecrack’s show, Earthling Cinema, is something quite unique. It starts with an extraterrestrial named Garyx Wormuloid hilariously and often incorrectly recapping a movie like “Frozen” or “The Matrix” before going deeper down the rabbit hole of the hidden themes and motifs that each film presents

Earthling Cinema is not the only series on Wisecrack’s channel. They also have amazing shows like Thug Notes, where you can learn about classic literature from the host, gangster Sparky Sweets, Ph.D.; 8-Bit Philosophy, which teaches philosophical concepts through the medium of video games; and their newest show, Wisecrack Edition, which tackles more philosophy hidden throughout TV, movies and pop culture. Wisecrack does an outstanding job presenting otherwise complex concepts in a way that’s funny, entertaining and accessible. This is what makes Wisecrack stand out. It’s a concept called tangential learning. If you present a normally unapproachable topic like philosophy in a context that people enjoy — like movies, games or comedy — you can get your audience to learn while they have fun.


Strip Panel Naked

With comic book movies popping up left and right, YouTube has seen a growth in channels willing to explain superheroes and villains to a casual audience. However, there’s one amazing channel that isn’t focussing on the movies, but rather the comics themselves. Strip Panel Naked is a series that takes a look at the tiny details that artists and writers put into the comic book medium. It explores what makes comics great at storytelling and showcases best practices from great comics creators.

Strip Panel Naked does a lot of things right. The host is engaging, informed and really makes the viewer not only notice little details, but also care about them. The videos help demonstrate that comic books are a unique art form. They’re complex and intricate. Every panel of a story is a deliberate choice in how it’s laid out, the colors that are used, the dialogue — or lack thereof — and more.

We guarantee you’ll walk away from his videos looking at comics differently. That’s why SPN is great. It’s so simple, but focussing on the smallest details of one piece of art can change how you see the entire art form.


Bistro Miniature

No doubt there are plenty of cooking channels on YouTube. Anyone can teach you how to bake a cake, but Bistro Miniature is a channel that makes food as small as their niche. They have a little kitchen where they make even smaller dishes. You can watch them artfully make miniature versions of roast beef, donuts, pizza and all manner of other tiny delicacies!

It’s weirdly beautiful and relaxing to see tiny scraps of food turned into delectable meals fit for a mouse.

What makes Bistro Miniature stand out is how they took a super saturated field like “cooking channel” and just added one little twist to change it into something new and interesting.


Hydraulic Press Channel

Take a random assortment of items, a couple of funny weirdos and one powerful hydraulic press. What results is nothing short of wonderful! The Hydraulic Press Channel is exactly this, and it’s glorious! In every video, this Finish couple takes their hydraulic press and destroys anything and everything you can think of. Bowling balls? Smashed. Lightbulbs? Shattered. Diamonds? Crushed. Is there nothing this press can’t do?

What makes this channel awesome isn’t strictly how cool it is watching things being destroyed. The couple behind the camera is super entertaining. You can tell how much fun they are having in each video with their constant giggling and joking around. And the whole thing is shot simply, almost like a vlog that just so happens to involve a massive piece of machinery. At the end of each video, the two smash a silly clay animal which they claim is “extremely dangerous.” Their videos are incredibly fun.

These amazing channels have found their audiences not by making content in the popular genres, but by creating videos that are so specific — and often strange — that you can’t stop watching.

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