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The 4 Super Cheap Tools I Use to Create All My Videos (Total Budget $82.88)

When most people think about making videos they think that they’re going to need a lot of fancy equipment and that it’s going to be expensive.  And this is where many folks get hung up. It just seems all too daunting to figure out what equipment to buy and then learn how to use all that gear.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

In the past 15 years I’ve made a lot of videos and i have fancy cameras and lots of gear. But these days I shoot everything on my iphone and I use the four basic tools that I’m sharing with you in this guide. The total budget, (assuming you already have a smartphone), is just $82.88!!

That’s it.

And it all fits easily in my messenger bag so I’m ready to shoot wherever I go.

Here’s my keep-it-simple video gear list to get you shooting awesome video without spending a ton of money:

1. Tripod + Smartphone Mount – Cost: $13.99
smartphone video tripod

This bendy little tripod can attach onto almost anything (the back of a swivel office chair is especially useful) It’s super compact so You can just throw it in your bag with your phone and keep it with you at all times.

2. Movo Lavalier Microphone – Cost: $39.95

super cheap video tools

Using a good external microphone is essential to creating good video. Your sound is as important as your image! This simple lav microphone plugs right into your phone and lets you get great sound when you’re positioned away from your camera. The kit comes with two microphones which will allow you to do interviews with a guest.  It even comes with a separate plugin for earbuds so you can monitor your sound and make sure the audio is working.

3. Extension Cord – Cost $12.95

super cheap tools

You can attach this cord between your microphone and your smartphone which will let you (and your interview guest) sit well away from your phone without feeling crowded. This is really helpful if you want to move at all while you’re shooting and really gives you plenty of freedom.

4. Wide Angle Lens – Cost $15.99

smartphone video

This wide angle lens is super helpful when you’re shooting in a tight space and you need to show more, or when you’re interviewing a guest and you want to easily get the two of you in the same shot.  You just clip the lens right onto your smartphone and it will give you a really wide angle shot.

When you’re doing an interview, the lens gives such a wide view so that you can still be an arms-length from your phone, and hold it selfie-style, but now you’ll have lots of space in the shot for both you and your guest to talk to each other.

If you’re walking around with your phone and you’re wanting to give your viewers a tour of what’s going on around you, the wide angle lens is a great tool for showing everything in your background. It’s particularly good for indoor spaces because it can help show an entire room.

I made a video showing how to use this wide angle lens for doing interviews right here >

And that’s it! Total Budget: $82.88 (*recent prices on Amazon)

With these four tools – plus your smart phone – you’re ready to shoot any time & anywhere – and all for less than $100!

Once you get yourself equipped with these simple tools, join my FREE Videomaking Mastermind group on Facebook where you can post your smartphone videos, see what others are posting and give and receive positive feedback.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/videomakingmastermind/

 

live stream an event
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How To Live Stream An Event The Right Way

How do you engage your online audience when you want to live stream an event? I’ve been streaming several live events around Boston and while I’ve been learning a lot in the process, I see one big problem.

When you organize a live event, like a workshop or presentation, it’s a ton of work to fill the room!!! If you’ve managed to attract 100 people – that’s a great success!!

The problem is that no matter how big your event, only so many people can fit in the room which limits how fast your audience can grow and keep your event sustainable.

But, what if you could take advantage of all the work you’ve done and reach an audience 10 times the size…?

Going live is a very good idea to give your event more visibility – but there are some very specific things you can do that will make it all the more appealing to your online audience. Because your online audience needs a certain kind of engagement that’s going to attract them and draw them in.

One event that I’ve been going to is called the Boston Speaker Series and it’s hosted by my friend, Kit Pang. It’s a fabulous event. It’s very interactive and I’ve started going there and live streaming it.

At his last event what Kit did to attract his online viewers was to start his live stream with his phone aimed at himself on a selfie stick while he was talking to his in-real-life audience – making sure that the online viewers could see both him and the audience. He got them to practice the opening with them cheering and then he went live and had them all cheer again as the start of his live stream. (watch the video above to see how well this worked)

That’s step #1 in how to live stream an event: Do something really lively and interactive with your audience at the very start of your Facebook live so that anyone who sees it, whether they’re seeing live or seeing it on the replay, will be drawn in immediately and be caught up by this attention-getting thing that you’re doing. Plus, if you’ve done the work to get 100 people in the room, you want to share their energy and enthusiasm for your event.

The next thing that we did was that I got up in front of the group and I challenged them into seeing how many more people could we attract to the event. I told them to pull out their phones and go to Facebook – and the page where the live stream was happening (facebook.com/awesomevideomakers). Then I asked them to hit the share button, make a comment and hit the like button.

This helps in a few ways. Every person who shares the stream will have the live event showing up on their feed – which means that it can be seen by their friends! So, you’re using your audience in the room to grow your audience on Facebook. And when you are getting a lot of likes and comments Facebook rewards you by making your live stream appear to more people. Facebook loves live video and especially live video that has a lot of interaction in the form of likes and comments. So, it’s important to continue to do interactive things with your online audience – getting them to comment – all the way through your event. (note: you can do this even if you have hardly anyone watching live because people watching the replay will leave comments.

The day of the event we reached over 2,800 people and the video had over 800 views. You can watch the whole video here:

When you’ve done all the work (and it’s a lot!) to create a live event don’t miss your chance to capitalize on your efforts to reach an even larger audience – who you can start engaging with. There’s a lot to know about how best to live stream an event – which is why I have a FREE Videomaking Mastermind Group on Facebook where you can share videos you’ve made and learn from myself and other members of the group. Please join us there and I’ll see you in the videos you’re making!

>>Videomaking Mastermind<<

Interview Videos
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How to shoot 2-person interview videos with your phone

Here’s a very simple solution to a really common problem. The problem is that when you are shooting 2-person interview videos with your phone – and you’re about arm’s length away from your phone – and you’re holding your phone, selfie-style – and you’re wanting to talk to your guest who’s right next to you. And the trouble is that you’re trying to get them in the shot and trying to get yourself in the shot – and when you get yourself in the shot, you loose them – and when you get them in the shot, you loose yourself.
And this is the problem.

So, how do you solve this problem?

interview videosWell, I use this very simple and really cool tool – the Techo universal HD lens – a wide angle lens for your phone. What you do is just clip the lens right onto your smartphone and it will give a really wide angle shot.

The lens gives a much wider view so that you can still be an arms length from your phone and still hold it selfie-style and now you’ll have lots of space in the shot for both you and your guest to talk to each other.

If you’re walking around with your phone and you’re wanting to give your viewers a tour of what’s going on around you, the wide angle lens is a great tool for showing everything around you. It’s particularly good for indoor spaces because it can help show an entire room. The video above was shot at Workbar, which is the shared workspace that I work in, and I can give you a view of the entire room once I have the wide angle lens attached.

If you like to learn this kind of video hack for making videos with your smartphone then join my Videomaking Mastermind group on Facebook. Other people are posting their videos and their experimentations and you can learn from what everyone else is doing as well as post your own stuff – and I’ll take a look at it and I’ll critique it and I’ll give you suggestions of how to make it even better.

So please join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/videomakingmastermind/

rinse and repeat

Rinse and repeat – Video making by volume

I’d like to let you off the hook.

If you’re like me, you are a bit of a perfectionist. Any time you’ve thought of bringing your work into the world you’ve wanted to make sure that it’s your best. And you take a lot of time polishing and tweaking before you feel ready to show it to anyone.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, your work will get a whole lot better if you focus less on perfecting and more on creating and sharing as often as possible.

How do you ensure you’re doing your best work? Get out in front of people and get their feedback

Case in point comes from a cool little book called Art and Fear. A pottery teacher split his class in half and asked the first half to focus on making one incredibly wonderful piece of pottery. Then he told the other half to make a lot of pots saying they’d be evaluated on their quantity (rather than quality).

So, who came up with the best work?

Invariably, all the best pots came from the group making as many pots as possible.

You can apply this lesson to whatever endeavor you’re engaged with: if you want to make something really great, you need to start making. Striving for perfection will just get in your way.

I know. You just don’t feel ready. You have a Goldilocks mindset. You want everything to be just right.

Don’t let your inner perfectionist hold you back.

Treat your work as an ongoing experiment and embrace the mess you create. Expect the unexpected. Treat everything you do as a learning process.

Do this often. Rinse and repeat.

Case study: Pulse reader

In 2010, right at the time the first ipad came out, two students, Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari, were in a one-month course called “Launchpad” in which the students have to start a real company. In order to get into the class you have to pitch a business idea so our two heros raised the question, “why is the experience of mobile news browsing so bad?” And they pitched the idea of a creating a news reader app for the ipad.

rinse and repeatTheir first assignment was to build a functional prototype in 4 days.

To get the job done quickly, they chose to sit in a cafe (a room full of prospective users for their reader) where they had a quick, rough version of their app open on an ipad. Since the ipad was brand new, this was super attractive to everyone who passed by. People who had never seen one would ask about the ipad and they’d let them play with the basic version of their new app. They got tons of immediate feedback from cafe patrons and, as a result, went through hundreds of small revisions each day.

Their published app, called “Pulse Reader” turned out impressive enough to be shown off by Steve Jobs himself and, later on, was sold to LinkedIn for $90 million!! (this story came from the book, Creative Confidence)

How can you get into the rinse and repeat mindset?

Move from planning to action. Share quick, rough versions of a product or service your working on to get fast feed-back. Put a time constraint on yourself. Imagine you have a boss who’s telling you, “I want to see something by the end of the day.” See how quickly you can turn your ideas into action.

Rinse and repeat is a core principle of my program, Video Power Strategy™. It’s about engaging your audience in a way that they ensure you’re doing your best work.

As an experiential educator I’ve seen first-hand how well learning by doing works. If you want to do your best work (and if you want your business to thrive) then you need to jump in with rapid innovation cycles of creating a piece of work, showing it off and learning from the feedback you get. Learn by doing. Rinse and repeat.

Want instant feedback for the next video project you’re working on?
Join our group on Facebook and share often >

Live Video Hacks
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Three Live Video Hacks You Can Do Anywhere

I just made this video with three live video hacks showing how you can easily make beautiful looking video – using minimal equipment and available light.

I’m on a mission to help you learn things like:
  • How easy Live Video is to produce.
  • How to be more confident on camera.
  • How to get viewers to do what you want.

…you can learn more by joining my FREE Videomaking Mastermind Group on Facebook here >>

Here’s a couple of my favorite live video hacks to make it as simple as possible for you to make awesome videos – and use Facebook Live. I’m not going to get into fancy equipment or fancy set-ups. I’d like you to be feeling very empowered and that you can do this easily, anywhere and any time.

1. Use Natural Light
The first thing to notice (in the video above) is that I am using available (natural) light. There’s no artificial light in the room. I have three great big windows off to one side – two windows slightly in front of me and one slightly behind me offering some backlighting. In addition, I have a neutral colored, plain wall as my background – so it’s non-distracting.

You’ll see that I have beautiful light coming down on one side which provides great contrast across my face. And I’m about five or six feet away from the wall so no matter what I do or no matter how I move, there’s no shadow cast on the wall.

What I’m going to suggest is that you look for locations that are like this – that have a neutral, non distracting background and have a lot of natural light. Note that the sunlight shouldn’t be direct – you’re going to want reflected light coming in through your window – and it’s really beautiful and really natural.

2. Use a small tripod and phone mount
A really simple camera setup for you phone uses a small flexible tripod and a mount that clips onto your phone. The cool thing about these is that you can mount it just about anywhere. (note: make sure you mount your phone horizontally)

3. Use an office chair
In the video above I’m showing how to mount your tripod on the back of an office chair. The nice thing about using an office chair is that by swiveling the chair, you can do cool little pan shots – or by rolling the chair across the floor, you can get a really nice, smooth, dolly shot.

I carry my little, bendy tripod and phone mount with me all the time – wherever I go. I always have it. So, any time I want to take a video, I can. And in my world, I know where some of the coolest, natural light rooms happen to be – and those are the places that I shoot a lot of video.

I hope these live video hacks are helpful and I’d love to see how you put these into practice.

And you can get started right away – by joining my (FREE) Videomaking Mastermind Group on Facebook where you’ll learn things like how easy Facebook live video is to produce and how to make video that gets people to do what you want. You can share your own videos, get positive feedback and get inspiration from others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/videomakingmastermind/

Jump Cuts
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How to use jump cuts to make your videos awesome

When are jump cuts good and when are they bad?

The video above, made with my daughter, fully embraces jump cuts (yes, we’re jumping!) The camera angle is fixed and the goal was to shorten the sequence of us moving up the stairs. I wanted to use this video on Instagram – only 15 seconds – which meant the original footage of the two of us jumping up the entire flight of stairs was far too long.

But, jump cuts can be abrupt. They can be jarring. They can be obnoxious.

Wondering just exactly what a jump cut is?

As the video below demonstrates, shot by the Vimeo Video School, they are not always a good thing.


“A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly.” (Thank you Wikipedia!)

You create jump cuts when you cut between two sections of footage shot from the same exact camera angle – for example in a live interview with a talking head. And when they come across as too abrupt and jarring they call attention to your video making process and draw your viewer away from the story you’re telling which is very, (very) bad.

You can easily avoid a (bad) jump cut. The easiest method is to cut between close-ups, medium, and wide shots. Or cut back and forth between your interview subject and B-roll footage – or shoot your subject from two angles and cut back and forth between the two viewpoints.

But what if you love jump cuts?

I may be dating myself, but who can forget that jump cut from the start of 2001 A Space Oddyssey when the ape throws a bone in the air and the scene jumps to a shot of a (bone shaped) space station orbiting the earth? Or the rivetting jump cuts from Run Lola Run? (OK, I’ll admit it, I really liked watching actress Franka Potente run down the streets of Berlin.)

When should you use jump cuts?

Jump cuts are great for showing the passing of time, or to speed up a sequence or to add comedy.

A great example is this ‘Coasting’ video, below, produced for Brahma by videographer Allen Martinez, which uses jump cuts to great effect. (also shot on stairs)

Note the rider’s-eye view sequence (that starts 10 seconds in) once the subject on the scooter descends a long flight of stairs in one of Rio’s favelas.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it for you.

If you’re online and you’re reading this, then you must be serious about using video for your business, so you’re probably going to want to take a look my FREE guide: the Top 10 Secrets to Attracting Clients with Video

Learn how to attract clients with Awesome Videos even if you have
No Time,
No Money,
and you think you have a face for radio…

The 10 Top Secrets to Attracting Clients with Video guide is FREE >

Take the Plunge

How jumping in cold water every morning helped my business grow

Sometimes lessons in what it takes to help your business grow come from the most unlikely places.

Take the plunge

I used to work for Outward Bound. Every morning we jumped in the ocean. It was always cold. Really cold. And yet we made everyone take the plunge. There was only one way to get used to it.

Do it every day.

At first it seemed like maybe this really wasn’t such a good idea. But by jumping in every day, it became normal. We didn’t just turn it into a daily practice, we made jumping in the ocean part of our cultural identity. When we each agreed to take the plunge, we became members of a tribe who were people of the water. We jumped in every day because we now believed that this was how we how we thrived.

It sounds crazy. It was crazy. No matter the weather, no matter how cold, we jumped in all the way.

Getting your feet wet as a daily practice

Since then I’ve seen first hand how developing a regular practice of ‘getting your feet wet’ works really well for growing your business.

We tend to develop our new stuff in a closet. Musicians call this ‘woodshedding’ – as in a long period of practicing your instrument out back in the wood shed so no one can see or hear you until you’re good enough.

This is not the way to grow your thriving enterprise. If you spend six months developing your next big project on your own, you may well find that you’ve spent all that time on something that no-one cares about.

You need to take the plunge with your new projects.

Jump in – get your feet wet – every day. I know. You’re not quite ready yet. It could be really cold!!

But, if you share some small part of what you’re working on you’ll get feedback right away.

Show Your Work

You may have noticed that this site is all about making videos. So what can you do with video as a daily practice?

You can show your work.

It’s all about reaching out to those you want to connect with. And you know what? If you start sharing part of your work each day you’ll actually start changing your identity. You’ll move from someone who’s thinking about doing something to someone who’s doing stuff.

The art of a daily share-your-work practice is about experimenting your way to success – to stop planning and start acting.

If you’re thinking about plunging in yourself you may be wondering what exactly does it look like?

Here are some helpful guidelines:

1. Plunging has three goals: showcase your creative process, share your vision, learn something from your audience.
2. It gets your feet wet right now. There’s no waiting around. Take a deep breath and… jump.
3. It’s simple.
4. It gets your blood going & moves you out of your comfort zone.
5. It puts you out there in front of your audience.
6. It’s an opportunity for growth.

Sharing early, messy versions of your work can be scary – you will meet your resistance – and you may find your audience doesn’t want what you’re creating.

But that’s how you learn.

And better to learn quickly, with others engaged with you along the way so you can jump in again. (if you fall off your horse, the best thing is to get right back up in the saddle again)

What plunging is not

1. It’s not deciding something. It’s deciding and then doing it.
2. It’s not staying in the closet. It puts you in front of your audience.
3. It’s not about sharing only with your friends and family. You need to jump out in front of the people you most want to impact and serve.
4. It’s not taking a class. You want to be sharing your gifts with the world. Now!

The benefits to getting your feet wet? You’ll avoid costly mistakes. You’ll learn what really works. You’ll do something now. Think for a moment about what getting your feet wet looks like for you. What action can you take that meets the six stages of plunging above?

Here’s how to get started. Just fill in the blanks…

My Next Plunge is: ____________________ (short phrase)
Timeline/deadline: ____________________
Learning Goal: ____________________

Want to jump in with support from others?

Join my FREE Videomaking Mastermind Facebook Group >