This is a guest post by Praxis participant Carson Westrich, who breaks down how he built a solid video project over the course of Module 4 of Praxis. If you’re wondering how to get a project from start to finish, or if you’re just curious what Praxis participants can accomplish over the course of their Praxis experience, this post is for you!
Over the last four weeks I have been on a quest to consume as much content as I possibly could. I have consumed everything from podcasts on the underrated value of big historical inventions, to articles on how we are currently witnessing the phenomenon of software eating the world, and virtually everything in between.
In addition to having the (content) consumption level of an elephant, I have also had the pleasure of breaking down some of my favorite pieces of content in weekly video synopses. Going into this material matrix, I was well aware of how much I was bound to learn from the content itself, and that had me extremely excited.
I severely underestimated, however, the amount I would be learning from producing my weekly videos. Planning, recording, and editing these videos over the past four weeks has taught me more than any piece of content did. Dabbling in the art of videography allowed me to test my creativity, gain valuable editing skills, and learn on the fly, things that can only be accomplished by breaking the mold and gaining real experience.
I’ve broken down tons of content throughout this month, and now, without further ado, here is the breakdown of my video making process.
This week can basically be summed up in one word: planning. Anyone who wants to take part in the fun that is video creation should be prepared for a lot of planning, especially at the beginning.
The first order of business was to find a setting. Since my videos were going to involve a lot of me talking into the camera, I wanted to make them as interesting as possible. Now, I talk to myself all the time; I consider talking to be a pastime. So, naturally, when planning these videos, I started to think of the places where I talk to myself the most. And since the shower was out of the question, I ultimately decided on the car (or truck in my case).
After I had made this decision and bought a mount for my phone, I hopped behind the wheel to test out my new idea. I very quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be a one take wonder. Following the planning of the initial setup, I still had to think through what I wanted to say. Going into my first recording session, I was well aware of how much I talked in the car; what I had failed to notice in the past was how disjointed my thoughts normally are in the car. After all, I do have to pay attention to the road.
So, after a whole lot of planning and execution, I had my first video.The biggest piece of feedback I received from my first video was that my lighting wasn’t the best. It was also suggested for me to add background music. These would be things for me to mull over as I moved into the second week.
The next essential element in video creation is the ability to accept feedback and constructive criticism. Nobody’s perfect and there will always be room for improvement. Revel in the feedback, that is the best way that you will be able to grow and succeed.
I was very lucky with the feedback I received from week one. By that I mean that it was very easy to apply. Background music is super simple to add (although I did make it too loud in week two, so maybe it isn’t super simple), and the lighting problem was fixed by moving my mount and switching up the camera angle.
The biggest issue I had in my second video was that I was definitely long-winded and tended to ramble a little bit. This was due to lack of planning. I didn’t script this video as much as I did with the first, which meant that my mind was more prone to wandering as it attempted to produce a solid video and simultaneously make sure the truck remained squarely on the road.
As expected, my feedback from week two was to tone down the background music a smidge and to clean up my speaking by being more concise and not using as many filler words. All of this was constructive criticism that only lead to my getting better. Revel in the feedback.
If you’re like me and tend to get off on tangents and have a hard time shutting up (the struggle can be real) then break up your videos into segments. Talking clearly for 1-2 minutes at a time is way easier than trying to go for 4-5 minutes straight. Trust me.
Heading into week three, I was absolutely determined to correct my mistakes from the previous video. I started by using some more laid-back background music, per a friend’s suggestion, and then moved on to cleaning up my speaking. It took a little while, but I finally came to the insight I shared above: talking clearly for 1-2 minutes at a time is way easier than trying to go for 4-5 minutes straight.
In my previous two videos I had attempted to talk for roughly four minutes straight. This always resulted in my having to do multiple takes as I tried to be as close to perfect as possible for about four minutes at a time. In week three I changed it up. I broke the video down into three separate examples backing my point, and thus, into three separate segments.
I noticed the difference immediately upon watching the raw footage. I was extraordinarily more clear and concise, and the overall flow of the video was greatly improved. Add this to the fact that my background music was no longer super loud and distracting, and the improvement from week two was a drastic one.
Also, on a more aesthetic note, I decided to give this video series a name, “The West Ride”. In addition to ensuring that videos are well produced it is always smart to pretty them up a bit for the sake of branding and marketing. The only feedback I received for my third installment was to add a “why this matters” section at the end of the video to tie everything together.
Continue to apply feedback and you will never stop growing. After all, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.
Three weeks down, one to go. For the final week of the month I was focused on bringing all the feedback I had received thus far into one episode. I used my new camera angle from week one, I used peaceful background music as I learned in week two, and I segmented the video as I did in week three.
And at the end of the day, the only feedback I received was that the camera was a little shaky, but to also keep in mind that this can be expected when filming in the car. My month of the content consumption challenge may be over, but The West Ride is far from done.
What I Learned
I highly recommend video creation to anyone who wants to improve their planning, editing, or verbal communication skills. It is an amazing way to communicate, as well as grow your personal brand. If you wish to begin your own videography journey, my biggest takeaway and best piece of advice is this: always set time aside to plan and think through what you want the finished productto look like. If you are able to do that, as well as apply feedback, you will always be growing andgaining valuable knowledge as you walk the road to success.
Want to do this yourself?
Here are my top 10 tips for anyone just getting started in the video world:
1. Plan it out. (What do you want the finished version to look like?)
2. Give yourself time for production. (Rushing it never helps.)
3. Make sure you have good lighting.
4. Make sure you have good audio.
5. Get creative with the editing.
6. Experiment. Try different things.
7. Once you find your niche, stick with it.
8. View all feedback as an opportunity to grow.
9. Always be thinking of new ways to improve your videos.
10. Make sure all of your videos are always an accurate representation of your personal brand.
In the words of FDR, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” That being said, go forth and create!
Carson Westrich is a young, ambitious, hard worker who enjoys having challenges thrown his way. He has always been a very self-driven worker, which stems from his many years being homeschooled. Upon high school graduation, and having no desire to sit in a classroom again, he joined Praxis, a paid apprenticeship program. He is currently working through their business bootcamp, and is looking forward to landing his apprenticeship in the coming months. Follow his work on his website or connect with him on LinkedIn.