Blogger’s Notebook – Going Video, Part 1

(Silverdale, Washington; February 25, 2021) – Sparks1524 has gone viral!  Er, I mean, gone video!

Hopefully, I do go viral; that would do wonders for my bottom line…

Welcome to a brand-new category—the Blogger’s Notebook!  I’ll use this column to discuss the art and science of blogging.  Everything’s on the table, from the mechanics of writing blog posts, to finding ideas to tackle, to the use of video and YouTube.  Kicking off this newest category is part one of a three-part series on the requirements, and richly rewarding results of breaking into YouTube!

I’ve been planning to branch into video for some time.  The idea’s genesis came when I began researching how to create my own audiobooks after publishing Proud Lion last September (shameless plug here for book 2, The Norfolk Murders, which will be released this April 20th on Amazon!).  As I considered how many people would be interested in audiobooks, it occurred to me that YouTube offered another channel I could use to broadcast my witty and well-stocked wealth of wide-ranging wisecracks and wildly wonderful weekly wisdom!

During the draconian lockdowns we’ve been sentenced to here in the western states by governments ignoring science (for instance, when the CDC says indoor dining is *not* a significant vector for transmitting the coof, but western governors ignore the CDC and close all indoor dining anyway, you know they’re not listening to the CDC!), I’ve become deeply involved with some YouTube pop culture communities.  I have to give a special shout-out to Gary at Nerdrotic (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5T0tXJN5CrMZUEJuz4oovw), and Lord Dicktor Van Doomcock (his on-screen persona), the ‘future ruler of Earth’ at OverlordDVD (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeCJB88u93eq91U0rlJsW-A).

If you’re interested in no-holds-barred pop-culture/Hollywood critiques by people who believe in thinking independently, check them out.  Their small updates are great, and the Friday Night Tights and Inquisition webcasts have become weekly bedrocks helping me endure as I approach one year of solitary confinement (solitarily confined for my own protection, of course).

I have an advantage since I worked in media for nearly 20 years in the Navy, but many people interested in YouTubing don’t have that background.  No problem!!  This three-part series will be a good resource for those who are interested in trying, but don’t know where to start.

First, study the YouTubers who inspire you.  If they’ve been online for a few years, but their audience is small, ask why.  If the YouTuber is catering to a specific niche market, then a small audience is to be expected.  However, if they’re going for mass appeal, but haven’t built up a decent following in several years, pay attention.  Perhaps their graphics (intro, outro, etc.) simply look so bad everyone clicks out before listening?  Perhaps their delivery and presentation are subpar?  Perhaps they’re simply boring?

Conversely, make sure you also pay attention to successful YouTubers, such as Nerdrotic and OverlordDVD.  Study their graphics and music clips.  Keep track of how their very monologue style becomes part of the brand.  Take copious notes on how information is organized and presented.  A successful YouTuber is a gold mine of information for those willing to do proper research.

Moving on now to the realm of practical execution, the very first thing you must do is decide how your webcast should look.  Step two will then see you gather the right equipment on a budget (I took a 70% pay cut to go independent and do this independent-publishing thing, and I can still go YouTubing).  Step three is the nitty-gritty of actually doing it and assimilating the immediate lessons being learned. 

Today we’ll look at step one—deciding on the look.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about your webcast’s look, especially the opening and closing visuals.  Gary at Nerdrotic has a static background, animated logo, and voice-over, but no music.  Lord Doomcock at OverlordDVD has music, graphics and a voice-over.  This is your webcast; do what you want; if it doesn’t work, shift course. I prefer music, so I went that route for the intro and outro (the opening and closing music and title/credits). 

Patience is critical!  My finished intro and outro clips are only five seconds each, but it took me three days to pull off that combined ten seconds.  I spent hours researching music.  There are a lot of wonderful sites out there full of copyright-free and low-cost music.  I discovered a magnificent piece at Bensound.com, but it turned out to be a pay-piece, so I spent about $70 to buy a lifetime license.  I can now use that piece of music for the rest of my life as long as I obey the stipulations of the license.

The next step was pulling out Photoshop to build the background of my titles.  I was inspired by the lovely end credits from Avengers: Endgame, so I crafted a simple spotlight-on-screen effect, and then laid my logo over that to create the basic template.  For the intro, I have the line ‘Do Great Things’ fade in under my main logo; for the outro, I have my blog’s address and the credits for the music fade in.

There are two ways to approach timing any music you use.  If you have a piece of music you like, you can build your visual timing to that.  In my case, I found a song I liked, but I already had a sense of how I wanted to pace the visuals, so I had to scan the song repeatedly for about an hour to find a five-second phrase that fit the mood and timing of both the intro and outro.  At this stage, I was ready to merge the slides created in Photoshop with the music I licensed, so I fired up my video editor.

Multiple video editing platforms exist, both freeware and pay-ware.  Adobe Premier Pro is used by many of my colleagues in the industry, but I don’t need that level of power (or cost!).  Instead, I use Premier Rush, Adobe’s scaled-down application for home users.  This past Sunday I spent about four hours building the intro and outro.  I rendered it several times, watched and listened and timed the movement of the elements…and retreated to Premier Rush to tweak it.  I’m proud of those two five-second clips!  They convey a sense of professionalism and possess a slight edge of mystery.

Starting a YouTube project is not easy, but it can be fun if you remember to have fun with it!  Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but who cares?  You’ll be just as old in a year if you don’t try to live your YouTubing dream as you will be if you do try YouTubing, so go for it!  Don’t be afraid to reach out to your own favorite YouTubers.  Most YouTubers are quite approachable, having never forgotten the people who helped them get started.  You’re literally not alone in this!

Next week we’ll discuss the equipment you’ll need to generate a professional product, even if you’re on a budget like me.  With some modest financial investments and some innovation using what you already have at hand, you can join the YouTube generation with ease!

Check out Sparks1524 on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/SparkyMiller1524

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Nathanael Miller’s Photojournalism Archives:

Instagram:      @sparks1524

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