Five Tips For Shooting A High-Quality YouTube Video

Five Tips For Shooting A High-Quality YouTube Video

In 2014 it was estimated that 400 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute. Add to this videos uploaded to Facebook, Vimeo, Snapchat, Instagram and websites and it is a mind-blowing amount of footage.

Social media has brought many good things musicians wishing to reach a larger audience. It is a great way to promote your musical pursuits, be they as a singer-songwriter, a duo, band, or show. It is also a great avenue for musicians to produce and sell lesson material, find other bands members, approach agents and venues and book gigs.

BUT how do you stand out from everyone else? Even if you can convince someone to click on your video, how long will they give you before they lose interest and move onto another? 

Producing a high quality video will help in that regard.

Here are 5 tips to help you produce better videos and get more likes, views and shares with your music,

1. A Concept
Giving some thought to your video will pay off greatly in the end. If you are playing a song make sure you are confident in performing it from beginning to end. If you are giving a music lesson then know what it is you wish to say before hand. It might help to compose a script and practice it a few times before you try and record yourself speaking on camera. Funny things can happen when the recording light is pressed.

2. A Space To Record In
Think about where you are going to record. Does the location reflect the content of the video? Do you need to setup extra gear to shoot the video? Can you do that easily if required? What about the acoustic space? Is it OK for what you wish to achieve or do you need to make some changes to the location for your sound? Most of the videos I record are shot in the front room of my house. When shooting a product demo I’ll put up a backdrop to cover up my bookshelves and other instruments (way too much clutter that would be distracting for the product I am demoing or reviewing). A backdrop doesn’t have to be expensive or you could just improvise with something you already have around the house.

3. A Camera
For the majority of our readers, the choice of camera will fall into one of three categories.  There are much better cameras available for a lot more $$$$ but they are beyond the scope of this blog post.

Modern phone cameras are pretty good! You might be able to shoot a perfectly good video on your phone and be very happy with the results. The caveat with phone (or tablet) is that the audio recording might not be the best, even if the video is fine. How can you improve that? Perhaps by using a better quality mic from a company such as Rode, designed to attach to your phone or tablet. The Videomic shown in the picture captures significantly better audio than the inbuilt phone microphone on my iPhone 6, yet allows me the convenience of filming a video straight from my phone and producing something that is pretty reasonable. I have made short videos for students who have struggled with playing a part of a song or learning a particular technique. It is very easy to now turn the phone on, attach a mic, shoot a short video for the student to work with before their next lesson and then upload it to a website or share it directly with via messaging.  

Rode Videomic Me

If you wish to have the convenience of a compact unit like a phone but desire something better in terms of audio, the Zoom Q8 might be the answer.  The Q8 combines a wide-screen video camera which can shoot in HD with a four-track recorder. This comes with Zoom’s interchangeable mic system and two XLR/TRS combo inputs, adding much flexibility for capturing great audio. The camera itself is very straight forward to use, which might appeal to some people who simply wish to point and shoot when creating a video.

An action cam such as a GoPro is also quite commonly used for YouTube video creation. I use one myself. The footage can look great and the camera has so many accessories available you can locate it anywhere easily. I occasionally use a Zoom GH1-M Guitar Headstock Mount  (email James to order one of these by clicking on the link) to attach my GoPro to the headstock of my guitar when filming instructional and demo videos.  The GoPro audio is not particularly good, so it is generally advisable to record the audio to another source and then sync up that recording with the video in a software package (more on that later). The GoPro can be a challenging camera to use at times with numerous setting options that can make a dramatic difference to the end result, though there are plenty of suggested setting tutorials available online.

All cameras will benefit greatly from light and lots of it. There is a reason why GoPro demo videos shown in store look amazing - they are all shot on brilliant, sunny days in amazing locations. Shooting a video indoors at night tends to produce a grainy video that can look quite messy. The same thing applies to the other two camera types mentioned. There are plenty of lighting video tutorials available online, as well as tips for using common lights from around the household to achieve good results. Lighting kits for video are also readily available on eBay and Gumtree and are fairly inexpensive but improve the quality of your video by a significant amount.

4. Audio Capture 

If you wish to capture audio at better quality than whatever microphone is built-in to the camera you’ll need to give this some thought. As previously mentioned , you could add a better microphone to your camera or phone, use the Zoom with it’s inbuilt four-track recorder, or sync the video in post-production with an audio track.

When recording a video that demands better quality audio, I generally use Cubase and send the audio feed there. Cubase allows me to use both microphones and direct connections through my audio interface and produce high quality audio tracks.  Pro Tools is also a good alternative.

If recording a lesson video I use a Rode Rodelink Filmmaker Kit Lavaliere mic if offering an explanation while demonstrating a concept on the guitar at the same time. For some videos I opt to do a voice-over after the part has been recorded and for this I will use a Rode K2, but there are many good microphones available on the market such as this one.

Good quality headphones are also important when using microphones in the recording process and you need to hear what you are playing. 

5. Video Editing Software
Unless you want to publish something to the web straight from your phone without editing, you will need to use some sort of video editing software or an app on your phone or tablet. As a Mac user I have used iMovie and some good results can be achieved, but I ended up buying Final Cut Pro X, which may well be overkill for what you wish to achieve. 

Whether you are using Mac or PC, if the app offers a timeline that makes the whole job much easier for both editing video, working with multiple clips, and with syncing video to audio. 

To sync audio and video together, I put some percussive hits in before the start of the footage I wish to use so that I can easily line up the audio track from the camera (which I do not intend to keep) with the audio track I have produced in Cubase. If playing to a backing track I will put in a metronome pick for 4 or 8 beats before the track to use for aligning the audio to video; alternatively I might clap if using microphones and an acoustic instrument or percussively strum the strings. Once aligned I mute the audio track captured by the camera and leave the high quality audio track. 


In our next post we'll discuss what you'll need when putting together a home studio.


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