A camera facing (aka talking head) video is a very effective way to communicate using your body language, facial expressions and eye contact. The visual cues connect with your audience on an emotional level and as such it is ideally suited to introduce yourself and to communicate your enthusiasm/passion for your subject.
What you need:
- A camera – Smart phone, iPad, Laptop with a webcam or a dedicated video camera
- An environment with relatively low noise
- Good lighting
- Something to rest your camera on that is near or close to eye level. This might include a tripod, stack of books on a shelf or a handy helper.
What to do:
1. Planning – Jot down some bullet points of the things you feel must be said.
When making an introduction video, an important aspect to capture is authenticity. The easiest way to capture an authentic ‘performance’ is to have an element of improvisation. To achieve this, you only need to know what you need to talk about, but not the exact words you plan to say. To achieve a good result, you simply need to have a list of items to talk about rather than a carefully/painstakingly crafted script you plan to read.
This approach will allow you to maintain eye contact with the camera, which is a key element when creating this kind of video as it establishes a connection with the viewer on a personal level. The improvised aspect gives your personality some room to express itself which allows you to appear ‘human’ and approachable to the viewer, which further reinforces the connection with your audience.
2. Prepare your space and equipment
This is a very practical step but also extremely important. By taking the time to prepare your environment to record your video, you can achieve some amazing results. Some things to think about include:
- Sound – Ideally you want to produce your video in an environment with low levels of ambient noise. Recording in a noisy environment will make it harder to hear what you are saying and subsequently distract the viewer from the intended meaning of your efforts.
- Lighting – Naturally lit environments will always give you the best results. just ensure that the strongest light source is either in front of you, or to the side of you. If the strongest light source is behind your head, the camera will automatically lower the overall image brightness to compensate for the light levels, resulting in your face appearing in shadow.
- Background – Aside from your face and body, the other dominant visual element in this style of video is whatever is behind you. Deliberately choosing your background to somehow relate to your subject will help to reinforce the context and message of your video. Creating your video in a science lab might be an option teaching chemistry for example.
- Camera position – The position of the camera in terms of angle above or below eye level has an impact on the way your video is perceived. Without going into great depth the tip here is to try and position your camera at eye level. This will help to give your video a balanced, direct and professional impression.
- Choosing the right clothes – In the visual information hierarchy, it is important to create visual separation between you and the other visual elements in your video. The simplest way to do this, is to wear colours that are opposite to your background in either brightness or darkness. So for example, if you have dark background, try to wear lighter colours. If you have a brighter background, dress in darker colours. This will help to focus the video on you and what you are communicating.
3. Making your video
Obtaining effective results within a reasonable amount of time is best achieved by recording your video a few times over, rather than doing it once and then trying to edit it afterwards. Editing will take significantly more time than just recording it over and over until you get it almost perfect. Using this approach is makes it extremely difficult to produce a video without any errors or flaws, but these flaws also give your video a sense of authenticity. Expect your video to have some aspects that you don’t like and try to focus on whether it communicates the information you intend it too. With practice and experience you will find the process to become less uncomfortable and more natural. This brings me back to the point before about recording your video again and again until you have something you are happy to use.
So the creation process might look like this:
- Jot down some bullet points of the things you feel must be said.
- Setup your environment and your equipment
- Hit the record button and try getting the recording done on the first go
- Review your video and make another one
- Repeat step 4
- Select the best one that includes all the dot points
- Upload it into your Youtube account
- Trim the start and end (if necessary) using the Youtube editing tools
- Grab the embed code and paste it into UTSOnline using the HTML icon within the WYSIWYG content editor, then click the ‘submit’ button (See ‘Embedding your Youtube video in UTSOnline’ link below).
ProTip – The free Youtube Capture app for IOS makes the process of getting your video from your IOS device onto Youtube very easy.
More Tips for making videos
Rule of Thirds
This image shows how an image/video can be broken into thirds horizontally and vertically.
When creating a ‘talking head’ video, frame the subject roughly under either the left or right intersections.
What the cat is looking at is allowed for by the leading space in front of the cat’s line of vision.
All the space behind the subject is behind the subject’s line of vision.
Locating the subject in the left third if looking right, or in the right third if looking left is best.
Some useful resources:
- Some tips from Blackboard https://help.blackboard.com/en-us/Learn/9.1_2014_04/Instructor/090_Course_Content/Best_Practice_Intro_Videos
- Productions skills https://creatoracademy.withgoogle.com/page/course/bootcamp-production-skills?hl=en
- Lighting and composition https://creatoracademy.withgoogle.com/page/course/camera-lighting?hl=en
- Clipping and Editing in Youtube
Creator Studio: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6060318?hl=en
Video editor: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/183851?hl=en
- Embedding your Youtube video in UTSonline https://help.online.uts.edu.au/embedding-a-youtube-video-in-utsonline/
- Accessing and activating your UTS-Google Apps account which will give you access to your own Youtube account. https://help.online.uts.edu.au/setting-up-a-youtube-account-to-upload-videos-to/
Find your faculty learning technologist for support at: https://help.online.uts.edu.au/information-for-staff/support-for-staff/