November 2021 Day 18: An Early Wrap on Shorts

Hi everyone (and to my future self)! I have decided to wrap up my daily shorts project before the end of the 30 days. Going into this, my main goal was to practice editing and filming with a smartphone. Also, to experiment with different types of themes and content. Furthermore, I wanted to push myself to try out more features in open-source software.

Most of all, I want my content to be useful for others. But one-minute blurbs are rather hit-or-miss. When there’s action, purpose-filmed for the format, it can be fun and interesting. For example, making my Japanese curry video was an enjoyable and challenging process. Normally, I take two hours to cook curry. But how do I show all the main steps within a minute? That video got nearly 1,000 views, which was one of my most viewed shorts!

Sometimes, pen and paper are better than video

On working weekdays, I only have two hours to script, film and edit my shorts. This led to lower quality even though I believed that I had interesting thoughts to share. Possibly, some of these thoughts lend themselves better to pen and paper than to the video medium. For example, I think my career advice pieces would have come across better as blog posts. That way, I can add more nuance and explain my point of view in a balanced way. With Shorts, I had to cut entire sentences from my script and that made my thoughts more simplistic and less interesting.

My smartphone is a better camera than my dSLR

Earlier in my blog, I wrote that I am trying to do this blog and vlog journey with bare-bones gear. Between my 5-year-old dSLR and a 3-year-old smartphone, surprisingly the phone is emerging as the winner. It is not even a high-end model – I am using a S$98 (US$72) bottom-of-the-line model. Yet it has a very competent microphone – sometimes better than my separate recordings in Audacity.

There’s a reason why photos and videos are in landscape

Our naked eyes see the world in wide format. So a tall, narrow smartphone video gives us tunnel vision. On the other hand, landscape format gives us something closer to the world that we see. That’s why I feel as if I can communicate more information with non-Shorts than with Shorts.

November lighting is constantly changing

When I watch my daily shorts together, or when I was watching my raw tutorial footage from two hours of filming, I could see my lighting change. With winter approaching, every day gets darker and my lighting situation is never the same from one day to the next. In fact, it gets visibly darker from one hour to the next within the same evening, even when I start filming after dark! When I have the time to look at it all, and make thoughtful colour corrections, I feel more satisfied with my output.

I still have a substantial pipeline of ideas. They’re just not shorts.

All the things I want to do with video are not shorts. Here is my laundry list:

  • A set of hand-holding beginner tutorials for various free / nearly-free software for content creation
  • An overview on how to choose and use a serger
  • How to take care of your sewing machine
  • More sewing!
  • Family stuff for the family. For memories sake.

Producing a GOOD short is a lot of effort – planning and scripting (to pack rich content into that minute), ruthless editing, and then getting all the images and footage into the 1080 x 1920p format. I admire everyone who can regularly churn out high-quality shorts. And of course, I’m not there yet. I guess working on creating better non-short content will help me to continue learning and improving.

Open-source software needs a lot of TLC sometimes

Honestly, it kind of breaks my heart to make this point. I wish I could say that a beginner can walk right in to photo and video editing with open source software, and produce equally polished output as with the usual paid staples, with just a tad more tinkering. But there were times when my open-source options were just not reliable enough. Layers failed to render, audio failed to sync, and a 40-minute work training that I was re-exporting got cut off at the 26th minute. Still, I’m committed to practice and troubleshoot; but the journey towards creating a comprehensive reference resource for beginners after me is longer than I thought.

I pushed myself in a lot of ways that I really enjoyed these two weeks though! Most of all, I am proud of how I sat down for over an hour with GIMP to re-work the thumbnail for my first Budget Beginners tutorial (again, not a short!). Hopefully it looks almost as polished as Photoshop would have.

Now, to focusing on my non-Shorts content and work at improving the quality and polish. I’m getting cracking with my second episode of the tutorial series. See you next time!

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