A Guide to Creating High-Quality Run-and-Gun Vlog Videos
From gear choice to editing, here’s everything you need to know about creating high-quality vlog video content while on the go.
When looking across the landscape of the film and video industry, perhaps the most exciting opportunities for aspiring content creators isn’t in traditional production, but rather in social media content. One of the best examples of this new age of content creation can be found on YouTube with millions of video bloggers (or Vloggers) creating quality content on a wide scope of topics.
For those interested in starting a vlog for the first time, or perhaps just looking to further hone your on-the-go vlogging skills, dive into this guide to making run-and-gun video blog content—ideally for YouTube and social media channels.
Find Your Style and Format
So, before we go into camera overviews and gear recommendations, you’ll want to decide on the style and format for your vlog first and foremost. Obviously, not all vlog videos are the same, but many of them do share similarities. You want your vlog to stand out, so I recommend watching a good deal of vlog videos—specifically within your content or niche—to understand the lay of the land.
From there, you have some decisions to make at the beginning. How professional do you want your videos to be? Do you want to be on camera the whole time or behind the camera? Will interviews, voiceover, or text provide the majority of the information? Do you want to only shoot yourself in a controlled environment at home or in a studio? Or, do you want to capture yourself organically out in the field?
Once you’ve asked all these questions, it’s helpful to outline a template of sorts for your videos. This will include your standard introduction, the crux of your video format, and a standard outro that includes all your call-to-actions (CTAs) or anything else you want your viewers to do.
You can see a lot of examples of these decisions in the video above, which outlines how to make a travel video that really stands out. From the set on-camera intro, to the different types of shots and montages, you can see how all these styles and looks are perfect for the video’s niche.
Picking the Right Gear
Depending on the style and format that you’ve decided on from above, you’ll now be able to pick the right camera and gear for your vlog. Since most vlogs are intended solely for online distribution on social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc., you don’t really need to break the bank for the high-end cinema cameras.
Instead, I recommend focusing on your needs and the types of shots that you’ll want to get. Below are three recommendations for cameras from our list of the best and most affordable cameras for vlogging roundup. These three run the gamut from least expensive and most accessible, up toward the most professional for high-end production needs that are still in line with this social video format.
From there, you’ll want to make the rest of your gear purchases based off of your primary camera and needs. If you’re shooting solo and want to be on-camera for the majority of the time, you’ll want to look into some swivel head gimbals, as well as cameras with flip out screens (or attaching a monitor to your small camera rig).
For lighting, you might be able to get away with natural light when out in the field for most online videos. However, keep at least one or two battery-powered LEDs on you in case you’d like to make any of your shots nicer. Remember, when you’re working on the run, you want to work fast, yet stay in control. Taking a few minutes to make sure your shots are literally in their best light won’t hurt.
For all the technical setups and gear that you might want to consider, this article is a perfect primer on a true videographer’s guide to vlogging.
The Challenges of Audio
Moving on to audio. I wouldn’t recommend relying on your camera for sound. Even in the most run-and-gun of settings, you’ll want at least some sort of lapel (or lav) microphone or shotgun mic. Audio quickly becomes a problem when shooting out in the field and on the run. Anything from wind to background construction noises can cause an entire shoot to be lost if you don’t plan to mitigate any annoying audio hindrances.
In addition to finding a solid boom and lapel setup, I also recommend looking into windscreens or windshields for your microphones as a precaution, but not a solution. Good audio will come from understanding your environment and making smart decisions on how to avoid bad situations. If you can, always position yourself and your shot to block off as much wind as possible. Also, pick your battles. If you know audio in the field is going to be a huge issue, pivot to adding in more audio later through voiceover or other creative alternatives.
Check out these audio recording options and resources, as well.
- The Indie Filmmaker’s Guide to Recording Audio
- How to Capture High Quality Audio for Low Budget Films
- 7 Tutorials About Editing Audio in Your Film and Video Projects
- Tutorial: Removing Audio Pops and Recording Audio Differently
- 9 Helpful Audio Tricks for Recording Documentary Interviews
Finally, and sadly for many veteran film and video professionals, I’d say that creating better vlog videos really come down to the edit. Technological advancements and new and innovative apps and plugins are making editing so much easier and more powerful. Also, in typical online video style, having fun and fast edits can help save even the most problematic of productions.
When creating vlog videos on the run, you have two options on how to approach your edits. First, you can always bring a laptop (or full PC) with you to edit your footage later in the day or night. Since you’re shooting video for online audiences only, there’s really no reason to push for anything higher than 4K, which means any standard laptop at this point shouldn’t have much of a problem crunching the footage for a quick edit and export.
You can look even further future-minded and embrace many of the new mobile editing platforms, which are making smartphone filmmaking and editing a realistic option for a new generation of vloggers. Breakthroughs in mobile editing are revolutionizing video journalism, as well as pushing for creators to even shoot and edit straight to their social channels. Depending on your style and needs, I recommend looking into a few top mobile editing tools for filmmakers on-the-go.
For more vlogging and filmmaking tips and tricks, check out some of these additional articles below.
- Stunning Royalty Free Music for Vlogs
- Choosing the Right Lighting Setup for Your Vlog
- Interview: Casey Neistat on the Future of Creative Video Content
- Use the YouTube Chapters Feature to Keep Engagement
- Vlogging Tips for Using Music in YouTube Videos
Cover image via Ayush gurjar.