Ramping Up Your Vlog’s Production Values

Part of the appeal and charm of a vlog is that it’s raw and honest. But sometimes a vlog that is the wrong kind of raw can belie the candidness that you want to put out. There’s that unpolished quality that remains engaging and pleasant, and then there’s rough kind that could register as sloppiness that could very well turn people off.

Qualities You’d Want to Avoid

Graininess, dimness, pixelation, shakiness, static, blur, scratchiness — these are just some of the qualities that you don’t want to be associated with your blog. There are minimum standards that you must meet, which aren’t there to make your life difficult, but are ultimately for your benefit, as these standards make the viewing experience of your followers a good one.

A vlog consists of video, i.e. the moving picture, and the audio, i.e. the sound. You want a combination of both good video and good sound. You’re not reaching for documentary quality audio and video, although that is a good thing to aspire for, but you want at least some crispness, clarity, and some aesthetic value for both. That is what mean when we talk about production values.

Now, some of these elements might require you to either upgrade your equipment, while some you can improve by sharpening your video production skills.

Video Quality

What makes bad video quality? What would make it good, or at least better? We break it down into components here.

Resolution

The basic building block of a digital picture is the pixel, and in general, the more pixels you have in a frame of your video, the better the resolution of your video

What makes bad resolution?

  • Pixelation — that is, when you can see the little squares that make up the picture.
  • Blurriness — if there’s a lack of definition in the details of the image.

How can you improve?

If you’re seeing these qualities in your picture, then you probably need to fiddle with the settings of either your recording or your encoding, or just get a better camera altogether.

You can learn about video resolution here.

Lighting

You have to remember that the principles of photography apply in shooting a video — so you have to pay attention to getting enough light in to illuminate your subject.

What makes bad lighting?

Just like in photography, you don’t want your picture to be under- or overexposed. Good thing most cameras would normally fix this automatically. However, there’s a point where there would truly be not enough light — which would result in a too-dark scene that often has the added unpleasantness of extreme graininess. On the other hand, too much light, with not enough exposure compensation would result in a washed out video.

You can go for the dramatic by shooting really dark or really bright for effect, but you have to know what you’re doing. You first have to know the rules so that you know when and how to break them. Read more about vlog lighting here.

How can you improve in this area?

You can fix bad lighting during production by taking it outside and shooting in daylight, or bringing in some artificial lighting. You can also fiddle with the exposure controls in your camera. In post production, your video editing program might have some effect controls that could help you fix levels and/or brightness and contrast.

Framing and Composition

This creates focus and interest in your video, as well as make it look good.

What makes bad framing and composition?

Staid, boring, or cliched shots. Shots where the subject is at dead-center are usually not very good, unless it is used for effect, such as to highlight symmetry, for example. Askew framing, crazy angles, cluttered scenes with too many elements, these can be indications of poorly shot videos

How can you improve?

Again you can apply your photography principles here. Use the rule of thirds to create a more dynamic composition. Align your horizon. Many cameras will have the option of showing gridlines in the viewfinder to help you out. Use background and foreground elements to their best effect to convey the most meaning in a shot. Learn about the intricacies of from below or from above. Or shooting wide or tight.

Camera Movement

A lot of viewers who have seen the movie “The Blair Witch Project” ended up getting dizzy from the shaky movements of a hand-held camera. Save your viewers the headache by using a tripod when you’re shooting steady. If you need to introduce movement, keep a steady hand on the zoom so the move is smooth. You can also use a dolly to track in and out of a shot.

Only use handheld if you really have to, and for goodness’ sake, try to keep that camera steady.

Audio Quality

The quality of the sound makes up half of the quality of your vlog. so it is just as important as the look of your video.

What makes bad audio?

Not enough sample rate or bit rate, either of which could result in unintelligible speech or way less-than-crisp sound. A little ambient sound provides atmosphere, but too much can drown out whatever it is you want to say. Moreover, anything grating or unpleasant sound elements that grate on the ear would not make a good impression on your viewers — examples of which are static, low volume, scratchiness, and feedback.

How to improve audio

First of all, try to get yourself a good microphone for recording audio with your video. For your purposes, you only need one that can help you record speech well, and can isolate speech from a noisy background.

It is always better to take out the sound from a video than leave it in and annoy your viewers. If you’re not really speaking in camera, you might want to record a cleaner voice over and lay it over the video.

Conclusion

As you can notice from the tips above, there are times when you don’t really have to get brand spanking new equipment. Sometimes some adjustments to your camera settings would greatly improve the quality of your sound and picture already. In other times, it just requires you to simply up your skills as an editor or videographer in order to achieve a quality that merits you the followers that you have.