I didn’t intend for there to be a six month gap between this video and the last, but school got really busy.
At least this one’s finally done and out the door, though. Just like the iPad video, I thought I’d do a ”quick“ write up of some about some of the things I did and why I did them for the two people who might be interested.
Call it a force of habit.
MKBHD once said that his focus on putting out a higher quality video is partially due to the fact that he knows he won’t be the first to put out a video on any given product. That’s a mentality I’ve very much tried to keep in mind.
In writing my most recent blog posts, as well as with the iPad video, I tried to be cognizant of the fact that I wouldn’t even be close to the first group of people talking about the product on the internet.
I would treat the bulk of the copy as a review and talk about my experience using it, but I’d also be actively thinking about some bigger picture or argument that I could be making.
For the iPad video, I was a bit more conservative with that strategy, saying that it might be time to evaluate a use case for Apple’s flagship beyond being a laptop replacement.
For this piece, I think I was a bit more ambitious.
The original plan was just to make a straightforward review of the Osmo Pocket. I spent a bit of time thinking about the purpose of that camera, and why someone might want to buy it. I was especially torn on whether such a thing even needs to exist, given how good phone cameras are nowadays.
Eventually, I decided on running with the final premise of the video. But, I also added in the Spectacles, given that I hadn’t really done anything with them yet.
Having said all that, the decision ultimately came down to my desire to take a risk, to see if I could set the video apart from all of the technical evaluations that had come before.
I will say that, about a month since first beginning this project, I’m still unsure whether that was the right path to take, but I can say that I’m glad I made it this way, since it offered me a challenge to put an abstract argument in my head into words.
Goals from last time
I had two main goals from last video: cleaner audio and more concise script, and I think I was able to hit both of those.
As far as audio went, the bulk of that was solved by not recording outside the Apple Store in downtown Chicago in the middle of winter.
I set up shop inside my house, making sure my noisy PC was off and using a mattress to reduce echo (the floors in my house are very tall, so there’s a ton of dead space).
I had intended on using my lav mic so I could record against a cleaner backdrop, but obviously that didn’t happen. I do think that it was ultimately a blessing in disguise, since an $80 Blue Yeti easily beats a $15 lav mic.
The only real downside was having to record in my super busy room with a computer behind me, which was literally the one thing I wanted to avoid by shooting the iPad piece outside.
On a slightly related note, a friend had previously suggested that I add music through an entire piece instead of just in the intro, and I did. It was a bit challenging finding four creative commons songs, but I do think they made the video a bit better.
Side note: I do stray away from stock music sites because those have generally felt unnatural and weirdly artificial to me. I’ve mostly doing deep dives and following rabbit holes on SoundCloud artists or labels who I know upload royalty free music.
As far as conciseness goes, this one is about 5 minutes shorter than the last one, and I think covers a lot more ground. There’s still an argument for shortening it even further, so I plan on keep working to find the balance between giving a complete set of details and not wearing the audience out.
The “hero shots”
I borrowed this term from The Verge to refer to the first shots you see of each device. “Coincidentally,” the way I did these was also heavily inspired by their Pixel 3 review video.
I’ve loved the concept of using a TV to display backdrop visuals ever since seeing a couple of YouTubers who did that with launchpads, and The Verge’s video just made me realize that it was possible with gadget videos.
Since I had an old TV lying around, I thought I’d at least give it a try. I grabbed some visuals from Beeple, who’s known the free video loops he makes for DJs.
The one challenge I did run into was with lighting. I wanted the focus to be on the devices and the screen, so I went and made the room as dark as I could make it. What that meant, however, was that the only lighting was coming from the actual TV.
I did relent for the Spectacles shots and grabbed a lamp, but I’m still not completely satisfied with how they looked. The lamp didn’t really add glare to the TV, but I wasn’t a fan of how much the wall was visible,
Having said all that, overall I can say with how these turned out, especially since it’s not something I often see with tech videos. If I return to this in the future, I’ll likely get a few pieces of black cloth so I can fully light things.
The piece to camera
I briefly mentioned this above, but my original intention was film in my guestroom so the only things behind me would be two walls and a window.
But, since I was using the Yeti, I had to move back into my room so I could use my dresser as a pseudo-mic stand. (Up until this point, I haven’t done enough videos to warrant getting a hefty enough stand to hold the Yeti’s higher than average mass).
What I did do to kind of produce a different look was to shoot at an angle instead of straight on against a wall. I also backed my tripod all the way into the corner, not only because that’s where the dresser was, but also so I could add more depth to my shot (another Verge tip!).
I also went for as wide a focal length as I could go, alone with a higher angle. That’s a pretty drastic change from the iPad video, where we went with a tighter, lower shot to get the giant Apple logo in frame.
In a somewhat continuing theme, lighting remained kind of a challenge. I wanted to use the Ikea lamps I used to light B-roll shots for the iPad video, but those ended up being too short, even sitting on a chair.
I did try to achieve a multi-point lighting look by reflecting a lamp off my wall, but again, I don’t think that’s really noticeable.
In the end, while the results weren’t disastrous, it did mean that my torso seemed better lit than my face.
Also, against what I’ve been taught in school, I shot against the open windows in my room!
I mainly did that so that there would be a brighter and more airy feel to the video, and to mimic what MKBHD and Dave Lee do with tube lights in the backgrounds of their shots. I don’t regret that.
Finally, doing a piece to camera continuously reminds me how not used to talking to a camera I am. It’s a 10 minute video, but the shoot probably took over 2.5 hours. I’d be doing 15 different takes of a line, my camera would die without me knowing or my echo-reduction mattress would fall.
To be honest, this was a horrible video for continuity, and that’s not even including the haircut I got three quarters of the way through (I didn’t realize my camera never recorded my conclusion until I revisited the footage the next day).
Wow, that was a long piece.
Yup. Turns out, I had more to say than I originally thought, so I’ll keep this “what’s next” brief.
Whenever the next video comes (for all we know it might be December), I’d like to be making a product that is overall cleaner.
A lot of this video was rushed since I was also prepping for a two month trip abroad, so I’d like to take the time to do things like light shots properly and get a higher variety of B-roll. I also want to get better at shooting B-roll of myself doing things, since I didn’t have any assistance for this project.
I am still proud of this video, though. I feel like I’ve poured almost everything I know learned so far into it, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. As always, don’t hesitate to drop me a line with any feedback you might have. It’s what helps me make progress.