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Postgraduate, Vlog

How to ‘Vlog’: Creating your First Video Blog

Creating video content doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Vlogging is a great way to engage with new audiences, present your ideas in a fresh format and, because viewers get to see and hear you, it’s actually an extremely easy way to show people exactly what your – often quite complex – research is really all about. There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re thinking of creating a blog, however, and PG Representative Cyd Sturgess has come up with a list of equipment and suggestions you should think about before you set up the camera and start rolling.

What do you need?

Camera – It is possible to vlog on just about anything, whether it’s a mobile phone or a Nikon D4S, anything with a good enough camera on it should do the trick. To avoid shaky footage, make sure the camera/phone is positioned somewhere stable. A tripod would be great here but, if you don’t have one, a stack of books works just fine, too.

Sound – Having good sound for your vlog is vital! We know that not everyone has access to external microphones and a lot can be done to boost sound levels in post-production. So, if you don’t have access to extra tech material, just make sure you speak loudly and clearly in the direction of your recording equipment. Also try to make sure that there aren’t any noises in the background that might distract the viewer from what you’re saying. If a police car drives past your window half way through your sentence, for example, stop, pause, and retake. Editing can solve a lot of problems but the less work there is to do in the post-production phase the better!

Lighting – Lighting is another important factor for a video blog. The best lighting you could get would be natural outdoor lighting, although, given the English weather, this isn’t always possible. If you’re vlogging indoors without lighting equipment, the best thing you could use would be a light(s) with a high white intensity – orange/yellow lighting can often make the video look too dark and this gives more issues to resolve in the editing phase. Another way to get around the lighting issue is to sit near a window. Try to make sure the window is in front or to the side of you. Do not record with the window behind you. Unless you want to remain anonymous, that is…

Editing Software ­  – Don’t worry so much about editing software, I am always on hand to help you out if you want to give it a go yourself, and I’m happy to do the editing for you if technology isn’t your strong point. If you do want to give it a go on your own though, there are several free editing programmes that you can download online, although these can often be quite clunky and difficult to navigate. Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro are perfect for vlogs, although they do cost money. I have access to these programmes and can always add any of the finishing touches to your vlog that you can’t achieve with the free programmes.

Things to Think About when Vlogging

Prepare – make sure you prepare your topic before you start the camera rolling! This will save you time in the long run and make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
Choice of Topic – try to choose a topic that lends itself to visual exploration.
Keep it Simple – it’s likely that you will have people watching your video that may not have ever read any of your research before, or any academic research for that matter. That’s the beauty of using video – you can reach a much wider and more diverse audience. However, this means you have to cater to that audience. Try not to go into too much complexity and think about one or two key elements that you want your viewer to take away from the vlog. Remember, you’re not trying to show off everything you know about your subject area, you’re just trying to provide a window into your research.
Copyright – just like in any published piece of work if you want to borrow images or video content you have to have the permission of the author. Wikimedia Commons is a good source for free content. Or just completing an advanced search on Google that only gives you material that is free to use and disseminate.
The Ten Minute Rule – try to keep video content under ten minutes. As interesting as your topic is, 5-8 minutes is probably a good time to aim for. More than 10 minutes for a vlog means that viewers are likely to switch off before you draw your conclusions.
Headroom – when you set up your camera try to make sure you don’t have too much space between the top of your head and the top of the frame. Take a couple of test shots, add/remove a few books from the pile that should be stabilising your camera and re-shoot!
Be Yourself – much like a blog, a vlog shouldn’t be a formal presentation. It’s about trying to connect with your audience in a personal and engaging way.  Try to remember some of the best conference papers you have seen and think about why you found the speakers/paper so interesting.
Have fun – on a final note – have fun! If you look enthusiastic about your subject on camera, it’s much more likely that people will be interested in finding out more about your research.




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