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Ailbhe gives insight into the important things to remember when filming any content for online!

We hope you enjoyed our how to produce your digital event blog, now onto the second part of our 3 part ‘how to’ digital series – how to film your digital event!

All through lockdown we have been seeing a rise in digital events. As Contact we have adapted various projects and shows to suit online audiences and we decided to ask Ailbhe Treacy who was tasked the job of filming How-To videos for our children’s show Forest of Forgotten Discos,! which was adapted from stage to digital last year. To give some insight into the important things to remember and take into account when filming any content for online!

Ailbhe Treacy – The making Of: Forest How-to Videos

During lockdown, I was tasked with the job of filming and editing a series of How-To videos for children and families to watch in the lead up to our Christmas show, The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Due to the pandemic, everything had to be shot remotely, with actors setting up make-shift studios in their own homes.

It was a steep learning curve (and wasn’t without its challenges!) but we were pretty pleased with the end result.

So, if you’re thinking about picking up a camera and making your own video content, here are a few tips on how to get the best quality footage when filming from home, based on what we learned making our Forest of Forgotten Discos! How-To videos.

Lighting

Most people know by now that good lighting is make or break for decent looking photos/videos. Still, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good light source. Sit yourself facing a window if you can, or have some kind of desk lamp/floor lamp in front of you if not. If you’re still looking a little shadowy, it’s most likely because your light isn’t close enough. Ideally, you want it to be about a foot away from your face (but try not to blind yourself!)

If you have a little bit of cash to spend, you could always invest in a ring light, which is what we used for our videos. Because they’re circular, they light your face all over, no weird under-eye shadows, and no looking like you’ve held a torch under your face to tell your mates a spooky story.

They’re pretty affordable, and most of them come with a tripod to hold your phone, so it’s doubly handy.

Set-up

Speaking of stands, make sure to position your phone somewhere where it can be propped up. You may think you have a steady hand, but handheld shots always look shaky, and it’s not easy to fix in editing. We used our ring light stands when we filmed our How-to videos.

Sound

Think carefully about sound. Good sound is unfortunately one of the hardest things to master with filmmaking, and also one of the most notable things about a video if it’s been done badly! Try to film in a room by yourself, with doors closed. If you live in a noisy house, you can put a blanket or a duvet against the bottom of the doors so that less sound gets in.

Alternatively, think about whether you can record sound and video separately. Can you use a voiceover rather than speaking in the video? If so, record your sound in a small space with lots of sound insulation. It sounds strange, but recording from a wardrobe is generally the best place to do this, because of its size, and because your clothes will naturally ‘dampen’ the sound (stop it from echoing).

If you can’t squeeze into your wardrobe, try getting under some blankets and pillows (the added bonus here being that, once you’ve finished recording, you’ll have a cool fort to hang out in).

If all else fails, think about buying a microphone. There are lots of options for this that don’t cost an arm and a leg, many of which plug straight into your phone. We used these plug-in Rode microphones for our videos.

Recording with more than one person

Now, this all gets a bit trickier if you’re filming conversations or scenes between multiple people (like we did with our How-Tos). There is a way to set this up so that everyone can interact with each other and not lose quality on sound or video, but it’s a bit complicated, so stay with me.

For this set up, everyone needs two devices, one to film on, and one to speak to your co-star with. So for example, set your phone up to film with and have your laptop/tablet off to the side on a Zoom call. You’ll want to have a pair of earphones connected to the device with Zoom on it (not the device you’re filming with). Then just hit record on the device you’re filming with, and you’re ready to go.

With this set up, you can hear what’s being said by the person on the other end of the call, without your filming device picking up the sound of the other person speaking. This gives you a much higher quality video than just screen recording a Zoom call, for example, and it’s easier to edit afterwards.

The edit

There are lots of various pieces of software available for putting everything together. Final Cut Pro is easy to use and has lots of the features that professional filmmakers use. You also get a 90 day free trial when you first download it, so you might not have to pay a penny.

There are lots of other free options out there, like iMovie (for Mac), Movie Maker (for Windows), Openshot or VideoPad.

If you’ve never edited before, luckily for you there are free tutorials and Youtube explainers for all of the software optionss above.

Try to keep your video short and quick-paced, particularly cutting out any pauses in people’s speech. The average video on social media only gets a few seconds of watch time, so make sure you get all the important info in at the start. Try to create a hook that will keep people engaged.

So now I’ve given you all of our top tips – it’s time to get filming!

Feel free to watch our Forest of Forgotten Discos! How-to videos for a bit of inspiration. (Which I also made!) Click here.

Take care, Ailbhe.

Enjoyed this blog?

Here are two more from our 3 part How-To digital blogs: