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Attention, YouTubers: May I suggest…?

April 21, 2007, 1:29 AM

For all of you who post videos on YouTube, may I make a suggestion? If you’re going to be posting videos of yourself demonstrating something, please do one of two things. Please either get someone to do the filming for you, or alternately, please use a tripod or something else to put the camera on.

Why? Because people who are demonstrating something with one hand while filming with the other so often produce videos that will make a person seasick. The videos are so often also out of focus because they’re too close or moving too fast. Such videos make it hard to follow what’s going on, and it takes some of the human element out of a video, since all we see is this disembodied hand.

If I had prepared more thoroughly for this entry, I would have made multiple videos for you of the same basic thing ahead of time to show you what I mean. One where I filmed myself doing something, and the other while having another person film me doing the same task. Then I could have you compare the quality of the two videos.

But you won’t get to see this, because I came to this entry utterly unprepared. So let me pick a few videos out of YouTube to demonstrate what I mean in lieu of filming my own demonstration. My apologies up front if any of these videos that I am about to use were made by someone who is familiar with my work and may eventually read this.

Here’s something I would put in the “don’t” category:

Not a bad video – I have no problem watching videos of people testing fire alarm systems. But we have the case here where the primary actor is also the one who is filming, so the image is a bit jiggly, and a lot of resultant blurring and the ability to cause seasickness in some people. And we also have that disembodied hand thing going on. You can also tell when looking at the video that the camera person had choose, whether intentionally or inadvertently, which one was more important – working the camera or performing the activity to be filmed. The camera slips on a few occasions.

This next one falls under the category of “better”…

Note that the camera is stationary, even though I get a sneaking feeling that the camera is actually unmanned through this whole thing. With the camera’s being stationary, there are no weird jiggles and jerks, and as a result, it stays in better focus.

Note, though, that if you decide to go with a friend or family member and a handheld camera, make sure they can hold it still, and make solid, deliberate movements, rather than making us all seasick.

And one last comment, in regards to this video: Can’t you come up with your own stuff? That video was made with a bunch of material taken from this Web site against the terms of my license. I see no attribution, and no mention of the license, either. If you’re trying to endear yourself to me, that’s not how to do it. I have no problems with people making derivative works from the site. If I did, I wouldn’t have put my site under a free license. But please, folks, follow the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license. I like seeing “Ben Schumin” in print next to stuff I’ve done.

Web site: Caitlin Hill gives out Vegemite in San Francisco, on YouTube

Song: Too many fire alarms...

Quote: So yeah, that's my bit of video-making tips. Feel free to criticize in light of my own movies.