Tim Lewis: My guest on this episode is Amanda Webb, who’s somebody I’ve met at multiple conferences. The purpose of today’s episode is to talk about mobile video. I did Amanda’s Go Do Video course in London and, to be honest, I was extremely impressed by what you can actually do with videos on a mobile phone, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get Amanda on the show, to talk about the same topic.
I mean we all think that you need expensive cameras and things to do video but in today’s world, with only maybe a small amount of extra equipment, you can actually do very, very good videos on mobile phones, and certainly I think most self-publishers, as they’re fairly cost-conscious, would be quite keen to use something they’ve already got to create decent videos.
So now, over to the interview.
Hello Amanda, and welcome to the show.
Amanda Webb: Hi Tim, thanks for having me.
Introduction to Mobile Video
Tim Lewis: Why should people consider using smart phones for creating video?
Amanda Webb: Well, I think the nicest thing about a smart phone is you have it on you at all times, so you’re always able to capture the moment, what’s happening right now.
Prior to smart phones with decent cameras, in a way, I had … I was just going through it today for a blog post, the things that I’ve shot my videos on. I started with my webcam with an overheating computer sound in the background, and then I went through various … remember those flip cams you used to get? They were really trendy at one stage.
They were USB, so you could plug them straight in. I had one of those. I had a Bloggie, and then I had a series of other cameras, that were just stills cameras, that you could shoot video on. And now I have a DSLR, which I’d never use to shoot video, because the camera on my iPhone 7 is as high quality as the DSLR, for shooting video. And that’s a nice thing, you have your phone with you, you don’t need to carry any fancy equipment. You can just go out with your mobile phone and shoot video, now, straight away.
Tim Lewis: Now, something you mentioned in your training sessions was this thing called ‘storyboarding’. What is storyboarding, and how can it help people to create interesting videos?
Amanda Webb: Yeah, I think storyboarding is a really important part of planning your videos. When we’re thinking about blog posts we tend to write down a few notes about what we’re going to talk about, and that works really well because that’s a written medium. The problem is that we go and do the same when we go and shoot a video, and we’ve got lots of different shots, and we should have lots of different shots in our video, if we’re going to keep people interested; we kind of forget to shoot different things. So, they can very often end up, just us talking to camera or just one shot with us talking over the top.
When we’re planning something visual, we really should do it visually, and that’s where a storyboard comes in. It’s like making the notes that you might write for a blog post, but you’re doing it visually on a storyboard. And all a storyboard is, we can either download a storyboard blank online, I have one, or you can just get a piece of paper and draw some screen sized boxes on it, and in each box you just draw a rough outline of what you want to happen in the scene.
And you don’t have to be a big artist to do this, because you often see these really amazing storyboards that they create for films, and you think “Oh, I have to draw in this detail!” All you need to do is to draw, like, stick men, and then just think about the different sizes of shots you need.
So, for people, that would be … you’d have a close-up shot; a medium shot, which would be down the waist; and something in between. So, you’ve got your stick man, that is just a head and shoulders. You’ve got your stick man all the way down to his waist, with all his arms. And you’ve got your stick man, which is head and shoulders and a little bit more, maybe his tie showing, as well. And that give you an idea of the size of shot you want to get.
But then, you need to start thinking about, what else can I slot in? What else is going to make this interesting? So, for my own podcast, I shot a little trailer recently about why you should listen to podcasts, and I thought, well how can I make all the reasons that you should listen to podcasts, interesting?
So, instead of me just saying what they were, like I would in a blog post, you know point 1) do this, point 2) do this; I went and shot little kind of scenes, that gave you an example. That you could listen to a podcast while you were driving your car, so I pretended to be driving my car. Never shoot video when you are actually driving your car. And did, a, kind of little shot of me driving my car. I did a little shot where I was pretending to be in the shower. People love it. They think it’s hilarious. And that’s just me thinking about the different shots that I can put into a scene to make the whole video more entertaining.
So, that’s what your storyboard does, as soon as you start thinking visually, you can start planning those visual elements. And it also means, that you won’t forget them; you won’t forget what it is that you’re supposed to be shooting.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, that’s one of those things that I … when I was preparing for this interview, I said “Oh yeah, maybe I should do more storyboarding for my own videos.” It’s clearly a good idea to do those sort of shots.
Amanda Webb: Even just scribble something on a bit of paper, you know? I think people get put off by the whole … the word ‘storyboarding’, the whole thing sounds frightening. Just, instead of writing down, what you’re going to say, draw a little picture and then write a little note below, what you’re going to say in each picture. And it can be just on the back of an envelope, anywhere, just to think about it visually, before you start looking through the camera.
Equipment for Mobile Video
Tim Lewis: Yeah. Okay. So, after I attended your video training session, I went out and purchased an item of equipment from Amazon. Do people need to buy expensive equipment to create really good videos?
Amanda Webb: No. Absolutely not.
You know I’m laughing, and I’m wondering, is that piece of equipment that you bought … I think I know what it was! It was my favourite piece of equipment for shooting videos, a selfie stick?
Tim Lewis: Yes.
Amanda Webb: Am I right?
Tim Lewis: Yes, with a tripod on it, so it was multi-functional. (Note as far as I can tell this is only available in the UK here)
Amanda Webb: Yeah, you got a fancy one, yes.
So, my favourite thing is a selfie stick, because I shoot. So, I’m really … it’s not that I’m really cheap, I just, I don’t see the point of spending loads of money, when you can get exactly the same thing for a little amount of money.
Now, I do want … there’s loads of fancy video equipment I want, but I don’t need it to create a video. And it’s like I remember when I was a kid, my Dad suddenly decided he was going to start cycling. So, he bought a really fancy racing bike, a helmet, pumps, tools, everything; and the bike never left the garage. I mean that’s the problem with equipment, you can use it as a procrastination thing, you can go “Well, I’m going to get all this amazing equipment and then I’m going to shoot a video.” And the video never happens.
So, simple things, a selfie stick, because I shoot video by myself it’s really useful, because I can get all sorts of angles, I can shoot angles with myself. I can use it to stabilise the camera, so I can just lean it up against the wall and get a good angle on the camera. And, it’s just you can get lovely kind of ‘walking talking’ shots, which I’m a big fan of; I think those work really well. So, that’s my number one piece of equipment, really.
Other really expensive equipment that I have: I have a selfie light. A selfie light is just like a little ring of LED that’s battery operated, and it slots on the top of your phone and it lights up whatever’s in front of you. So, whether it’s you or something else that you need to illuminate, it works really well. I think I paid a fiver for that, on Amazon. Amazon is your friend, for all this stuff.
If you do have a proper tripod, you can get a little adaptor that goes on to the top of the tripod that will hold your phone onto it. So, that’s one thing, if you did want to use a proper, decent tripod, you’re going to need to get a fitting. And, I’ve got one; again, I think it was about a fiver. It’s made by Mudder and it just stretches, so it will fit any iPhone size or any smartphone size. Other phones do exist. And, it fits to the top of your tripod, so that you can use it with decent stability. Again, if nobody else is there to shoot the video, you’re going to need something … a selfie stick of a tripod, for that.
They’re the three key bits, I think you need. And, if you want to expand, you can buy a microphone. And, again, I’ve got like this Tie Mike Lavalier, they’re called, and it’s got a really long cable, so I can get a really way from the camera and it’ll still pick up the sound. And that’s the problem with a phone, because if you get along way from your phone, your phone can’t hear what you’re saying.
Tim Lewis: Okay. So, I mean that’s one of the things that I’ve been using … I’ve got, like, one of these road mikes. It’s not particular long, but I use it with this little selfie stick on it’s tripod mode. So, I’m just, like, holding it up.
Amanda Webb: Okay.
Audio for Mobile Video
Tim Lewis: How important is audio, in terms of phones. That you’re saying, like, obviously you don’t want to hold … if you haven’t got a mike, you probably don’t want to be holding the phone too far away from yourself, if sound is important.
Amanda Webb: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I mean, if you’re outside, as well, with a lot of noise around, you want to make sure … I think sound; there’s two schools of thought for this, and I don’t know which way I’m swinging, really. Before it was kind of … before Facebook, let’s say before Facebook video, not before Facebook, but before Facebook video took off, I would have said the sound was more important than the video, because people will forgive a jerky shot or whatever, you know, from that point of view, but people would want … as long as they could hear it properly, they’d keep watching. If they could hear it properly, they’d be able to know what was going on.
But, now, things have changed. Facebook have really changed, because of the way that we see our Facebook videos with the sound off; automatically that’s how we see them. On Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, we have to physically switch on the sound if we want to hear it.
So, from that point of view, if you’re looking at using those networks, you need to make it look as enticing as possible, in order to either get people to keep watching and have subtitles, or to get people to switch the sound on. And, putting up a sign saying, “Switch the sound on!” by the way, is rubbish, because I’m not going to, until I know what it is. Is it worth me switching the sound on for?
I’ve got an example, actually. I can’t remember, it was some parenting site had put up a video, and all the way through it the mother in the video was eating ice cream, out of an ice cream tub. And half way through it, she poured her wine, her glass of wine, into the ice cream tub, and I was like, “What?. Why is she doing that?” And that made me switch the sound on. So, you need to have something. And I still don’t know, by the way, I watched the whole video through, three times, to try and work out why she put the wine in, and I even showed it to friends, so a stunt like that can really work for me.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, so the ice cream, wine pouring trick, you know, if you want people to listen to your show.
Okay, so, a question that everybody asks, and is a well known video question. What tips can you give people so that they can actually appear good, on video?
Amanda Webb: Well, I think the first thing is, just do it. Our video workshops are called Go Do Video, because it is a case of just go and do it, which you know we can think, all the reasons, the million reasons why we’re not going to shoot a video today. And I relate to that, totally. It took me a long time to be brave enough to do a live video.
Take it a step at a time. So, instead of thinking, I’m going to shoot a three minute video, use something like Snapchat or Instagram Stories and just do your 10 seconds or 15 seconds, depending which network you’re on, and just talk, for 10 seconds or 15 seconds, into an Instagram story, and then you’ve broken the ice, you’ve done it for your first time.
And, it’s amazing how quickly you can build confidence, doing something along those lines, because that’s how I build up my confidence to do the live video. After a while, I stopped brushing my hair before I went on Snapchat. I started looking as scruffy as I normally do, when I went on Snapchat. And, then I knew I was ready … I do brush my hair for my live video, but then I knew I was ready for live video, because if I was willing for all my Snapchat followers to see me looking like I really do look in the mornings; I was ready to go live.
So, that’s one thing that can really help you. Something else you can do, is picture the person you’re talking to. So, think of somebody you actually like, and pretend you’re talking to those. Don’t look at yourself, because if you look at yourself, then you start fixating on what you look like. And, I know this … whenever you go live on like a Webinar on anything, the first think I can see is my hair, and I start doing my hair. You’ve seen it?
Tim Lewis: Yes.
Amanda Webb: You’ve seen it, like, people on Periscope and Facebook Live, and the first thing they do … Gary Vaynerchuk does it all the time. He messes with his hair a little bit, to make sure it looks okay.
So, the trick for that is not to look at yourself. So, Eamonn, who I work with on the Go Do Video workshops, he has an idea where you don’t have the screen facing you, on your phone. So, you know you can see yourself if you do that? You turn it around and stare into the camera. It takes a little bit of setting up, in advance, to make sure that you’re in frame and stuff, but if you do it, it means that you’re looking people in the eye. If you’re looking down the lens of the camera, you’re looking people in the eye, rather than looking at yourself. So, that’s a good trick. I’m not brave enough for that, but it’s a good trick if you can … if you do it well.
But, just remember your focus is on the camera itself, not on you. If you look at you, it looks like you’re looking down at the screen. And now I’ve told you that, next time you look at an Instagram story, you’re going to see loads of people that are looking at themselves, rather than looking at the lens of the camera.
Tim Lewis: Yeah. I mean I’ve been doing some Linkedin videos, now that you can do Linkedin videos. And, I have been told off by people for not wearing a suit, on Linkedin, and I’m just, like, “Well, I’m doing the videos and you’re not.” So it’s, kind of … I think there is a certain amount of ‘just doing it’, is the biggest thing. Things like brushing your hair is optional.
Amanda Webb: Oh yeah. You don’t have much hair, so that’s why! I have a lot of hair.
Tim Lewis: Yeah. Well, I’m not … I’m not losing my hair!
Amanda Webb: If you’re not wearing a suit to work, why would you go and put a suit on, to go on Linkedin?-
Tim Lewis: Yeah-
Amanda Webb: That’s kind of my thinking as well. This is what I … you know, the two of us do the Go Do Video workshop, Eamonn is always very smartly dressed. He’s a shirt and tie, and suit and casual sports jacket … I don’t even know the language for what he wears. But, that’s him. Whereas, I’m very casual. And we kind of go in … But that’s fits our audiences. His audience is very professional. My audience is “Yeah! Social media. Yeah!” So, I like to think I can get away with the casual look.
Tim Lewis: Okay. And, this is another great perennial question that people ask about phones. What mobile apps can people use, to help them create interesting videos?
Amanda Webb: There’s so many out there, and I was scrolling through my phone. The first one is … you may remember there was a social network called Vine, for a while?
Best Mobile Phone apps for Video
Tim Lewis: Yeah.
Amanda Webb: That Twitter owns, that you can make six second videos: and that got closed down. But, they released a version of it which isn’t a social network, but does the same thing, called Vine Camera. And that’s one of my favourites because we use it in training a lot, because it helps people condense what they need to say into six seconds, and, you can create multiple shots, within those six seconds.
So, it’s a really good way to practise your storyboarding: putting a few shots together, within Vine Camera. Really simple to use: you just hold your thumb on the screen for as long as you want to shoot, and when you take your thumb off it stops and you can change your shot and do it again. So, it’s a really good introduction to using video. So, that’s one of my favourites.
And, Instagram and Twitter video, do pretty much the same. You can do a similar thing to that, it’s just it gives you a lot more space, and I like giving people that limit, because I think if you give them a limit, you’re going to be a bit more creative.
I do really like Boomerang, which when we talk about video, we talk about the different sorts of videos you’re going to create. You’ve going to have your longer videos, which you know are you doing a tutorial, maybe a testimonial from someone; those are your long, intense videos.
But you’ve got other video content that you create for social media, that can be quite quick. So, things like Boomerang, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, most people have heard of. It’s owned by Instagram, and it creates this six second looping video, or three second looping video; they’re a bit like GIFs, and they’re really good for a little bit of movement. Something like that is really good, just for catching the eye and catching people’s attention and entertaining them. So, I’m a big fan of that.
Instagram’s other app, Hyperlapse, which is iPhone only, annoyingly, is also really good. That creates time lapse videos and it kind of stabilises it as well, so it’s really good if you’re going on a journey or something; it speeds up the whole thing.
Flipagram then. Flipagram is a good one. Flipagram, we use for … on the day of our Go Do Video workshops, we give everyone a little postcard, where they can write about how brilliant we are! I think you filled on in?
Tim Lewis: Yeah.
Amanda Webb: So, something I did for a testimonial video, for Go Do Video, was I shot a … I just took a photo of each of those, and I can bring them into Flipagram and it creates a slideshow, so it goes from one, to the next, to the next, to the next, to the next; so we’ve got a nice video, and it’s a really nice way to display those testimonials rather than uploading an album with 30 different cards. It’s a nicer way to display it, I think. So, Flipagram’s good. And there’s lots of fun things than you can do with Flipagram as well.
There’s another … FiLMiC Pro: so, if you’re hardcore about your video, FiLMiC Pro is a really nice app. It does cost money. Basically, it turns your phone into a proper … I was going to say camcorder, that’s really old, but a proper video camera.
So, there’s things like I trained in Film and T.V., before I got into Digital Marketing, but one of the things you’d always do, at the beginning of a shoot, is a ‘white balance’. And that means that, sometimes you’ll see a video where people are inside and they look really orange, or they look really green. Have you seen that sort of thing? Or, if they’re outside and they look really blue?
Well, the way to make sure that everything is kind of the same colour, so whether you’re shooting inside or outside, is to point a traditional camera at a white piece of paper. You press a button and it takes the light and it will balance it, so it all looks … it doesn’t look too blue, it doesn’t look too orange, or, it doesn’t look too green, depending on the light. You can do that with FiLMic Pro.
You can kind of blur backgrounds. You’ve got a lot of control over your exposure. It’s a really, really nice app. And they’re actual, proper people: not people like me! Like, proper production companies use FiLMiC Pro, to shoot documentaries from their mobile phone. There’s an Irish one called ‘The Collectors’: the entire thing was shot on an iPhone using FiLMiC Pro. So, if you want to try something a little bit more sophisticated, you can look at that.
Then there’s Apple Clips … I could go on all day!
Tim Lewis: I’ve got about another 10 I could add, if you want? But … You know.
Amanda Webb: Oh, there’s one called … something to do with … Lomics, I’m really liking Lomics. It was one of the one’s we mentioned on the day, which you can create … it’s almost like a comic strip, but it’s animated. So, you go from one slide, to another slide, to another slide, and it kind of … it puts a kind of comic effect, over the top. So far, I’ve used it to create a picture of me eating Chinese food, but I really enjoyed playing with it. And, it does add, kind of, it makes you think of the storytelling elements of video, which is one of the reasons I really like it.
Tim Lewis: Okay. I’m going to add in a bonus question, which I didn’t tell you about in advance.
Amanda Webb: Okay.
Tim Lewis: It just occurred to me, I mean, some people are going to be saying, well, should they be holding the mobile phone vertically, like they normally would? Or, should they be doing all their video horizontally? What are your opinions on this, horizontal versus vertical, debate?
Vertical vs Horizontal Video
Amanda Webb: Okay. I have a like and a dislike, and then I have reality. So, because I’m traditionally trained I think, I hate vertical video, but I am willing to admit that vertical video is a very important thing, now. Because, the way we have consumed video, has changed.
Tim Lewis: Yeah.
Amanda Webb: And, I think that’s what you need to ask yourself. If you’re shooting something that is going to be watched on computers. If it’s going to be … if you want something that’s a little bit more traditional looking; if you think people will be streaming it to their T.V.; if it’s a longer kind of piece: I would say horizontal. Because look at your computer screen, look at your T.V. screen: that’s the way they’re designed to view videos: that way.
If you’re creating something that is going to be viewed on a mobile phone, vertical video is going to work in most cases, better. I still don’t like the way it works on YouTube, but it works really well on Facebook. I mean you can’t do Instagram stories or Snapchat horizontally, because that’s just annoying for the people who view it: they have to turn their phone around, and why would they bother? They’re just going to skip straight past you.
On Facebook, if you post vertical video, when people click on it, it expands and fills the whole screen. So, great! No distractions. No Facebook distractions. They’re going to watch more. I suppose the compromise, is square video. So, I tend to … when I’m posting on Facebook, I use … here’s another tool: Instasize, to put a square background on my video, with my logo on, or if I’m feeling sophisticated I’ll put some more stuff on that square background: and, that’s what I’ll post to Facebook. And my views have gone up, since I started putting a square video on Facebook, so definitely worth looking at that, as well.
But, Snapchat and Instagram has to be vertical. There’s no two ways about it. There’s no arguing. Vertical video is here. It’s important. As much as I hate it, it’s a thing.
Tim Lewis: I’ve always been amazed at the sheer vitriol that people have, towards vertical video.
Amanda Webb: You can’t see things properly. It’s like, you know, you want to see a proper landscape. If I’m shooting a landscape, vertically, you’re going to have to spend a lot more time looking, to see the whole landscape. That’s why horizontal, is called landscape.
If it’s a talking head, it really doesn’t matter, to be honest.
Tim Lewis: Yeah. Okay.
So, I think that’s just about wrapped up all the questions I was going to ask.
How can people-
Amanda Webb: You don’t want me to rant anymore? No?
Tim Lewis: Well, I could think about some other topics that you can rant about to do with video … But. We talked about lighting. We’ve talked about sound. We’ve talked about apps. We’ve talked about vertical video. So, unless there’s anything … is there anything else you wish I’d asked you, that I haven’t asked?
Amanda Webb: We could talk about captioning, actually, because that’s kind of important, I suppose. We talked about having the sound off. And I think that’s one thing … it’s one thing I’m doing at the moment, because I just put a whole load of videos up, on You Tube, for Go Do Video, and it’s really important, because we know so many people watch the video with the sound off, that you have subtitles on your videos.
So, the nice is thing is, that YouTube will automatically caption your videos for you. But, also, YouTube doesn’t quite know what you’re saying, so you have to go in and edit those. But, if you do that, that gives you what we call an .srt file, that you can download and you can use on Facebook. However, Twitter and Instagram, haven’t really caught … and Linkedin, haven’t caught up with that, yet. You can’t upload a captions file. So, if you use Camtasia, which is an editing tool, that allows you to actually burn your captions into your video. So, that’s one solution.
Or, you could Apple Clips, which I kind of half mentioned earlier, which will caption you in real time. It’s not that good at understanding what you say, so you have to kind of speak slowly, but it does do a good job.
So, captioning, thinking about those people that are never going to switch the sound on, unless you’re going to pour your wine into your ice cream, you need to really have some way that they can see what you’re saying.
Tim Lewis: There’s probably a caption underneath, saying “Pouring wine into ice cream!” And, you’re like, “What?”. Like, you turn the sound on.
Amanda Webb: Yeah.
About Amanda Webb, SpiderWorking and GoDoVideo
Tim Lewis: Okay. So, I’m going to go to my final question.
And, so, how can people find out about Amanda Webb, and the things you do?
Amanda Webb: I am Spiderworking, everywhere. On Twitter. On Facebook. Well, on Facebook I’m Amanda Webb Spiderworking. But, if you see Spiderworking and there’s no real spider, because I’m actually scared of them and there’s no real spider involved, that’s me.
But, Go Do Video, you can … I’ve got a page on my website with all the most recent workshop. So, that’ll always be there, not just publicising the one’s we have coming up now; which is spiderworking.com/godovideo. So, if you visit that you can see when we’re coming to a town near you, to teach you how to make a video from your mobile phone.
Tim Lewis: That’s sort of U.K. and Ireland, I’m guessing, at the moment, is your current-
Amanda Webb: Ah. No. Look, if you want us to come somewhere nicer … oh, sorry! I mean, if you want us to come somewhere more exotic?
Tim Lewis: So, you’ve just managed to alienate your main audience by saying that the U.K. and Ireland is terrible.
Amanda Webb: They’re lovely!
Tim Lewis: Yeah. So, thanks very much for being on the show today, Amanda.
Amanda Webb: Thanks for having me.
If you liked this show then you might also like YouTube Growth and Success with Steve Dotto, Using Instagram to Market Books with Jenn Herman or The Secrets of Facebook Live with Ian Anderson Gray