To Script or Not To Script

I’m two months in to creating videos for my YouTube channel. It’s been a great experience, and one that’s prompting me to learn a whole load of new skills not just specific to YouTube.

Before I started filming my own videos, I consumed quite a lot of content and learnt as much as I could without paying for any expensive courses. Whilst I’d filmed and edited video for work previously, I was aware that YouTube was a different game, and I wanted to produce content from the off that I wouldn’t be overly disappointed in a few months down the line.

Something I was particularly interested in learning was the end to end process that the YouTubers I particularly enjoy watching use to create their videos. I was fortunate that Marquees Brownlee released his SkillShare course around the time I was looking to get started, and while over 50% of what he said wasn’t applicable to someone without so much as a DSLR to their name, the fact that he chooses to fully script his videos was really interesting to me. Most creators I had watched up until that point mainly filmed their A-Roll based off of rough notes or outlines of what they wanted to say.

Now, I enjoy watching content from creators who work via both methods. It seems that there is a bit of a trade off between the more casual, informal style of the outliners, and the professional, compact presentations of the scriptwriters. Now, my slots to do the actual filming of videos is limited to time outside of my day job and when I have the house to myself. One of the difficulties with this is when an opportunity presents itself to film a video and I haven’t finished my script.

With this in mind, I decided to try filming a video without a script. I had one particular topic in mind on which I am comfortable talking about without much prior research, and I knew the three main points I wanted to make during the course of the video. I created an outline which consisted of those three points and three subpoints, fired up my camera, and hit record.

I had expected to find this method less stressful. But surprisingly, I found it just created different problems throughout the process. The actual recording time was a bit quicker certainly. I tend to want to stick to my script quite rigidly and so end up doing multiple takes of each paragraph. A seven minute video usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to record as a result. Using the outline method meant that this was effectively halved down to fifteen minutes. Interestingly the actual length of the video itself once edited, was very similar to my scripted videos.

However, I still found the recording process just as stressful, but in a different way. Whereas my current inability to remember my script and consistently deliver it as I want to is annoying, when using an outline I found that I was just as concerned, if not more so, that I simply wasn’t providing enough value in my content.

See, while writing a script is time-consuming, when it comes time to actually sit down and record it, it’s comforting to know at least that the content you’re delivering has been properly thought through. Yes editing out multiple takes is frustrating, but it’s preferable to what I found happened when following an outline, which is that I ended up saying things that I had to edit out because they simply weren’t correct.

So, for me at least, I’ll be sticking with a script for the foreseeable future. It means that I can be sure that I’m happy with the value of my content, and hopefully my ability to deliver it succinctly and with fewer takes will only improve! It’s also a good way of improving my writing, and at the very least I guess it means I can say I have experience with scriptwriting. 🙂

Remember to Like

I remember giving a talk several years ago where I talked about the different types of people on social media.

Of all of these personalities, the one I most identified with as defined in the linked article was ‘The Listener’. For most of my life, this is how I’ve interacted with social media content. Very rarely liking or responding to other’s posts, and my own content was even more scarce.

Bear in mind that I’ve been using social media since the early days of MSN Messenger, MySpace, and Bebo, and that’s a lot of content I’ve consumed, but never voiced my appreciation. Now, my aunts and uncles are probably not too bothered and to be honest, their content is not usually worth the time. But looking back, I do regret not showing my appreciation for the creators that I regularly enjoyed.

As someone who is now continually creating content, I know the value of feeling appreciated. Every single like, retweet, and comment is meant to provide a shot of dopamine I know, but more than that, they can be used as markers to improve the quality of my work. Whilst I know the importance of producing content that I enjoy creating, the feedback gleaned from social media once that content has been published is invaluable. When particular posts perform well or poorly, you get to ask why, learn from it, and move on to the next one.

But the value of liking content is not just for the creator, but also for the consumer. If you actually like content purposefully and follow creators who you consistent like, it allows you to build an understanding of what you as a consumer like. This benefits you in two ways:

First, it improves your online experience. As I’ve intentionally followed photographers, filmmakers, tech creators, and industry experts across a variety of fields, I’ve found it a great place to learn, expand my horizons, and get better at curation itself. At the beginning, I was regularly following people I would later unfollow after finding that I actually only liked one of their several thousands posts. Now, I can judge an Instagram grid, Twitter feed, or YouTube video in a few seconds and know whether this is someone I want to invest my time in.

Second, it makes you a better creator. As you curate your feed to show you content you love, it inspires you to create, and it informs you what you should create. Visualize Value showed me a style of graphic design I would love to emulate, Oliur produces product photography that makes me want to buy everything, and Luke Stackpoole takes landscapes photos that inspire me to pick up a camera every day. This makes these social media apps as much of a learning platform for me as an entertainment portal, which is exactly what I want to get out of all the content I consume online.

So do me a favour, the next time you appreciate something: take a second to smash that like button, comment, and subscribe.

I made a thing

The title of this post is inspired by a recurring exclamation from Jeremy Clarkson on his recent (and excellent) farming show for Amazon Prime. If you haven’t watched it, he tends to shout something along these lines every time he manages to do something productive.

Whilst this makes for a funny recurring gag, it does actually convey the important message that we should be OK with celebrating our accomplishments, even if we’re the only person listening.

And that’s kind of what this post is about: celebrating something that I’ve accomplished. I created something. That may seem like something or nothing to you. It may also be a bit confusing, after all, if you know my background you’ll know I’ve created lots of things before. I’ve developed websites, designed posters, and more recently starting posting my photos and videos online too.

But to me, this is different. Ever since I was a child I struggled with drawing. I remember sitting next to my best friend when I was just 6 or 7 and despairing at how poor my efforts were compared to his.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and apart from dabbling unsuccessfully in Adobe Illustrator, I’d never tried to create any form of illustration or vector by myself from hand. However, I recently needed to replicate my company’s logo for a project I was working on. As I had a bit of time to spare I committed to learning how to effectively use the tools I had to work with, in this case Affinity Designer. Several hours of YouTube footage later, and I had at least an understanding of which options to use and how, I was able to accomplish the task and that was that.

Until yesterday. When I suddenly had a thought which I immediately went to tweet. I was just working out the wording when I realised that this was something that could be conveyed quicker and easier by an image.

I got out my notebook, iterated a few times, then created a final sketch. The next day I fired up my graphic design software, and using the skills I’d learnt a few months ago, I was able to create the finished article in a few minutes.

If you’re a designer or artist of any kind, this might not seem like a big deal to you. But for me, this is the result of hours of watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, following people who inspire me online, and consuming as much knowledge and wisdom as I could in order to create, and more importantly, be able to share my creation. An original piece of art, of which I am proud.

Could it be better? Yes.

Could someone else do it better? Yes

Do I care? No.

There’s really two battles that have been won here.

First, that of improving over time to get to a place to be able to create.

Second, that of having the confidence to actually put the creation out there. I don’t like the idea of being proud (blame my Britishness), but being proud of your work is a pre-requisite to sharing it.

These two tweets from the past week for me summarise the process I’ve been through over the past 18 months. It’s been a long road, but it’s one I’m glad to have travelled.

Now onto the next one.