Making Youtube Videos…

Without Breaking the Bank — Part 1 of 2

Empty Roads, Matt Seymour —

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series

I tried a few things to start a YouTube 🎬 Channel.
  1. Picked up my GoPro Hero Session 5 (
  2. Thought of a topic to drive the channel
  3. Set up a landing page to talk about the idea
  4. An iPhone flexi arm holder (
  5. Set up a Medium page to talk more about the video content
  6. Set up a twitter page to brand my channel (Your 1 a day!)
  7. Came up with a name for the channel and designed a logo (designer’s mindset — The 1UXTip YT Channel)
  8. Took out my old iPhone 6sPlus from my gadget-trays (we all have one and we don’t allow anyone to come near it…), to act as a backup camera
  9. Cleared up my desk to accommodate the ‘new video recording endeavour’. My desk space currently is on housefull-mode — 2 macbook pros, 1 desktop pc, 1mac pro and the rest of the items that could not fit the gadget box (Refer to point 7 above)
  10. Wrote up a weekly plan to upload video clips to the channel
  11. Discussed the idea with my wife (she wasn’t too keen) and my 9 yr old son (This got him excited — He’s starting his own YT channel )

Now you must be thinking, this guy has planned it all — how can he fail?

I would not say I failed, but none of these top items from my list made any difference. Too much planning and dreaming about things did not take me anywhere. No results.

It took me 2 weeks to come up with this list and I had not recorded a single video. Instead of building this list of items to do, I should have just made a list of 3 videos I wanted to shoot and done it in like, 3 days. So much for planning and not doing anything

After 2 weeks I was still stuck, making that list perfect. Had I missed something — that was my constant worry. Yes, I did miss something — I had not recorded even one video.

I guess you may have been through similar phases while wanting to do something and getting stuck with the to-do lists that actually does not do any good. Welcome to my club.

I knew 2 weeks of wasted time is just too much. So I picked up my iPhone and walked into my garden shed to see, if I can record a video quickly. So what did I do next?

  1. Picked ups few A4 sheets (That’s the Letter size equivalent to our friends across the pond) of paper
  2. Some coloured pens
  3. iPhone flexi arm holder

I started by taking one idea and started recording the video. Thats it — no script, no flimsy setup. I spoke about what I knew (That’s what I do for a living. Say hello on twitter — @leanux_bala)

And in 3 mins the first video was ready. Yes, the recording quality sucked as did my commentary style (too many Ums...) But the actual message in the video was very clear in my opinion.

Go take a look at the video here —

2 things suck — the video quality & my commentary style. But then, done is better than perfect.
I uploaded the video on YouTube and felt good about it. Job 1 done. Not wasting another week to get things to perfection.

Now I could go back to the list and see what else needs to be done. And I learnt how to create a quick video and upload it to the channel — I can spend some time on the side to make things better (read — doing things from that list above).

I felt that the immediate pain while creating the video was struggling to get the right angle using the flexi arm iPhone holder. Go try it for yourself and you will see the pain (& feel it too). This got me thinking, and I started searching for the best way to get overhead shots while creating videos.

One thing always stood out — Overhead camera rigs. I thought I should take a look and see if I could have one. This got me into search mode and I came up with some really cool examples on youtube -

  1. Darbin Orvar
  2. SidedMike
  3. Mark Rogers
  4. Natural Nerd
  5. Joe Works

One camera rig (or table) that been part of millions of YouTube videos is Casey Neistat’s insane workshop and his overhead camera table.

Watch this video guys, its just too good!

Some of the examples were mind-blowing — my favourite one is this one by Darbin Orvar. I thought why not just contact the channel owner and see if they sell this product. Could not find a way to buy it.

I looked at other examples and see if I could buy one from the other YT channels. No luck. There was no way to buy a overhead camera rig from the amazing video channels who taught you how to build a overhead camera rig (or may be I did not look too hard). Then I googled to see if I can pick up something from Amazon. No luck here too.

I did find some multi-angle tripods from Manfrotto & Vanguard - but these were beyond my budget.

And I came across this beast from Edelkrone— Some day I will buy one of these, but not today. I can’t stop thinking about the awesome stuff that they design. Ok, lets move on…

I was back to square one. Were all my YT videos going to suck even though the content was useful (I hope it is)? I wanted to now build a rig — something cheap and quick, so I went back to the YT tutorials to build one for myself.

I really liked the rig (by Darbin Orvar) and wanted to build it. But it involved some extra work, a few more things to buy & some equipment I did not have access to. This was beginning to look like a stalled project. Either spend money and buy a costly rig or spend the next few weeks to build a really good rig.

I was having none of that. I went back to the drawing board, actually the work top. I needed something pretty simple to hold my camera in place, facing downwards onto the table. I thought of a few ideas -

Can I call this paper prototyping?
  1. Can I suspend the phone from some kind of frame
  2. Can I fix something to the ceiling so it holds my camera
  3. Can something be placed on the worktop so the camera is held from a height

I chose the 3rd idea. I thought, lets build a cube shaped structure with only timber so I can find a way out to place the phone on the top surface. But this required me making a trip to B&Q (similar to or Home depot ) and buying stuff that I needed.

There was a problem, I did not want to spend any money on an idea that I was still validating. I decided to look for stuff around my home that can be used to make this camera rig (You’d be surprised what you can find when you look around the house…)

I made the first video in 3 mins. I wanted to make the first rig in under 30 mins. This is how I did it -

  1. Found 4 IKEA table legs (these are fantastic, as they come with the round ring that the leg can be screwed on to and the ring itself can be fixed on a wooden piece)
  2. Found 2 pieces of timber to make the top frame
  3. Battery powered combo screwdriver / drill
And I began building the MVP Overhead Camera Rig
build in progress
standing tall…
It’s got 4 legs & can stand. Job done.

You may notice the big gap on the top (that was totally unintentional). The idea was to have a gap to rest my iPhone facing downwards from the top frame. But now I was left with a big gap — a nice to have problem. How? Look, if the gap only accommodated a phone, I could never make a DSLR or a video camera sit on that top frame. So the big gap was a good thing to happen. Shit happens for good.

I made sure I recorded the whole process so you get an idea about how I did it. I had to record 3–4 times to get the whole process covered. I could easily see the problem that I would face eventually — joining these video clips to make one clip to upload. And that meant learning to edit videos (holy shit, this story has too many tangents… I can see what you are thinking). The video editing story is for another day…

Have I recorded my second video yet? No. But I can do that pretty quick, now that I know how to do it. Will update you all when thats done.

Making things shinier

Lighting in the garden-shed was not great.

The ring light reminds me of Iron Man…

So I decided to buy this £7 ring light from Amazon, that can be fixed on the iPhone when recording.

But as you can see from the worktop picture above, the height of the legs is a bit too tall for this tiny ring light to have any decent effect. I am thinking again, one light is not enough — what if I buy a couple more and fix them on the top frame? A silly idea. I know. Not going down that route.

What if an LED strip could run along the bottom of the top frame? That should do the trick (or so I think). We will have to find out when thats done.

The story does stop here abruptly… As I need to use this rig to record the second video and the the story will continue about what that second video looked like after the LED strips were fixed in place..

Keep an eye on this post guys & thx for reading this far..

To be continued.

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