Now that you've visited a lot of vlogs, you may have gotten the idea that videobloggers tend to be pretty spontaneous when it comes to video production. If so, you're right. Sometimes all the planning a vlogger needs for a shoot is to make sure there's a charged battery in the camera. In other situations, an actual plan can be helpful.
Making a Plan
Before you start shooting, you should know what your subject matter is, where the story will take place, and who you want on camera to tell the story. For a simple video, that may be all the planning needed. If you want to produce a more complex video, a more detailed plan may make shooting go smoother. Sketching out a plan can be the key to successfully realizing your vision.
Don't let the idea of planning intimidate you. A plan can as simple as a few notes for a voice-over that you want to record after you've shot your footage. Or it can be a scripted dialog between different people . It can also be an improvisational guide with suggestions of what might happen in a given scene (Figure 4.1). A plan is pretty much whatever you need it to be, as long as it serves your creative process. A clear plan can help eliminate anxiety over the universal artists' question: Is this going to turn out the way I see it in my head?
Figure 4.1. A plan doesn't have to be complicated. The plan for Michael's video "NODE101:: San Antonio Intro" is a short list of points he and a fellow vlogger wanted to share with viewers. You can see the result at http://michaelverdi.com/index.php/2005/10/24/node101-intro.
Creating a Storyboard
Another way of creating a plan for your video is to sketch out its scenes. You may have heard about storyboarding a script. It's a term used in film production for the process in which scenes are literally drawn on paper, like comic strips, to show how they will look for each camera angle (Figure 4.2). Storyboarding can get tedious if you plan on creating a really long video, but it can be a lot of fun to sketch out the possibilities. Storyboarding is a good tool when you need to make the most of your production time and energy.
Figure 4.2. A storyboard doesn't have to look like a work of art. Stick figures will get the job done.
Don't let the idea of planning overwhelm or intimidate you, or stop you from being spontaneous. The unplanned events or actions that happen during a shoot often turn out great.
Keeping it Short
"Keep it short" should become your mantra. It's best to limit the videos for your vlog to five minutes or less. In fact, keeping your videos under three minutes is probably ideal for both you and your audience.
First, the more footage you shoot, the longer it'll take you to edit. If you shoot about two minutes of raw footage for each minute of a finished video (a reasonable ratio), you'll actually be able to complete a video project sometime before the end of this centuryif you keep it short. Remember, you want videoblogging to become a part of your life, not your entire life.
Short is sweet for your audience too. Watching video on a computer is not the same as watching TV while lounging on a couch. Your audience will probably have many other things begging for their attention, like an urgent email or a spreadsheet that has to be crunched by 5 PM. Albert Einstein, who was a pretty smart guy, once said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." He was probably talking about physics, but that's good advice for videoblogs, too.