CONFESSION time: I am baffled by social media and its allied practices. I can just about do the Facebook without thinking it’s computer witchcraft but Instagram and Twitter bamboozle me. One seems to be food pictures and the other seems to be livid folk shouting at each other.
The world of vlogging may change my views, though. Making mini-films and putting them online sounds fun. Who knows, it may spark my long-dormant creativity. The problem is I’ve no idea how to do it. So I call in an expert…
Mi Elfverson is director of the Vlog Academy (vlogacademy.com) and her first piece of advice is so simple that even I can understand it. ‘Just do it!’ she says. ‘Start by filming a vlog on your smartphone. Most mobiles these days have high-quality HD video cameras in them and it’s enough for sharing on YouTube and Facebook.’
Should you get more ambitious, though, there is other kit to buy. ‘A lightweight camera with a screen that rotates so you can see what you’re doing while filming is a good investment,’ says Mi. ‘You can also get a cheap tripod for smartphones to help keep the camera fixed while filming and you can buy a lapel microphone for sound quality.’
Sadly, using my mobile to vlog is a non-starter after I drop it in the bath but I secure two cameras to rescue the situation. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100V (£799) is dinky but its unassuming size hides a lot of gadgetry. It boasts 4K video capture, a concealed pop-up view finder and wi-fi connectivity. Its articulated screen can flip 180 degrees upwards so you can see what is being filmed while it’s being recorded. This, however, is not a touchscreen, so navigation through the camera’s functions is done via a mode dial, several buttons and a control ring. My first attempts at shooting a vlog with the RX100V were easy and the image quality and sound were great. It’s feature-packed and portable for vloggers on the move.
A more substantial-looking piece of kit is the Panasonic Lumix G80M (£749), which wouldn’t look out of place draped around the neck of a fashion photographer. The 4K film quality and auto focus are impressive and the stabilisation technology makes filming on the move a doddle. The screen at the back is articulated and its touchscreen intuitively aids navigation. It has a concealed port to add a separate microphone for improved sound quality. It feels good in the hand too, with ergonomic gripping points.
There were two other items on test here that I also liked. The Rode VideoMicro microphone (£49) is an excellent mini shotgun microphone that plugs into the headphone jack on a phone or a camera. The portable Sirui TSH-01B Mini table-top tripod (£50) is solid and multi-functional, so it’s a selfie stick and a camera clamp too.
So I’m now fully equipped and by the time Christmas comes I’ll be vlogging Tech Virgin columns as well as writing them. Get me. I may be modern yet.
Expert tips for virgin bloggers
Mi Elfverson offers tips for starting out in the vlogging world…
■ When filming, be authentic and passionate. By sharing compelling stories, you’ll connect on a deeper level with your viewer. This will help build up a returning and more engaged audience.
■ Don’t try to copy what someone else is already doing. Rather than being a bland imitation of someone, be your unique self. Find your own niche. Don’t worry about being loved by absolutely everyone, it’s better to attract a dedicated audience that likes you for what you are.
■ Keep it simple. Overcomplicating matters will take up too much of your time and stress you out!
■ To feel more confident and to connect with people when filming, imagine you are talking to just one person, such as your best friend. Look at the successful YouTubers. They often started sharing their videos with their best mates and they didn’t have anyone else in mind.
■ Find your own style. Create recognition by being consistent and adding features to your videos, such as colours, props or backdrops. Practise, practise, practise, be yourself, smile and have fun!