Vlogging (Part 2 of 3): The Filming Process - Filming, The Equipment I Used, Post-Production

We meet so many interesting people on a daily basis that the obvious next step is to document these interactions. With this train of thought, the Heavy Chef team have set out to create a vlog, in order to keep you guys (our community) engaged (it’s one of our big goals for 2018).

I happen to be the content manager and host of the Heavy Chef 'RAW' channel. Check out an example of the stuff I'm doing: 

We begun our research in early 2017 (yes, we know we’ve taken ages to launch, however, first check out my article Preparing To Vlog before you critique me too hard about taking so long).

In true Heavy Chef style (DO-LEARN-SHARE-MASTER), we thought we’d share what we’ve learnt along the way. Disclosure: we’re (not yet) experts in the space, but as we preach a process of DO, and LEARN as you go along, we thought it applied to us too! 

So, in this article, I've outlined 4 points that I learned about the filming process. And please do let me know what you think - email me or leave a note in the comments. 

Point 1:  Expensive equipment is not necessary.

Many of the biggest YouTube stars shoot on a hand-held DSLR camera (the same one that we have).

Big budget fancy movie making equipment and film crew are not a prerequisite for Vlogging success - in fact the Vlogging arena is so authentic that it would actually detract from the end product.

You’re better off investing time in strategic positioning than the perfect equipment.

Of course the big guys have a grand team behind them (note: not grand equipment) but you need to start with what you have at your disposal - i.e. yourself, your creativity and personality and potentially your phone, for lack of another camera.

To put this point in perspective, I shot this 3 minute film, below, with a team of 8 people in late 2016 for a social venture I am the CEO of, called Artisans In Africa - check it out: 

So, that is 8 people on the ground, plus 4 people involved in post production, and it took a total of 4 months to get to market and set me back a fair sum. It’s simply not a feasible strategy, particularly for a startup, in comparison to this 2 minute Vlog we shot and edited in a few hours, that cost us our hourly rate.

Point 2: If you know an 11 year old avid YouTuber, take advice from them on what equipment to buy! 

TRUST ME. They’re really clued up on the details.

True story. We have found the 11-13 year olds the most helpful in our search for the best Vlogging equipment - because for them YouTube isn’t something that they consume sometimes - it’s the only media they consume (apart from when cool parents force them to watch Netflix).

Here’s what we have invested in - on the behest of an 11 year old:  

  • 1 x DSLR camera: the Canon E700 (our 11 year old guru told use when to buy it from Orms on special). This camera comes equipped with a fluffy tail mike (for lack of a better word) that sits on top of the camera. This mike is good for capturing all the sound in close proximity, so you don’t want to use it in a busy setting).

  • 1 x Lapel mic (with a long cord): we’ll get the wireless Lapel mic in time. This is great for Interview settings / when you want focused sound to feed into the camera.

  • DJI Mavic Spark (a baby, entry level drone that operates from your phone / tablet).

And here’s what we’ve been given along the way:

  • 2 x Huauwei Mate 10 Pro phones (they’ve come on board to help us out with capturing content - thanks Huauwei). We love using their camera to film our RAW content - plus it has a beauty filter, which helps when you’re jetlagged.

  • 1 x Tripod (from my dad - thanks dad). Although it’s missing its top piece so we still need to replace it before we actually use it (watch this space).

What we use most, however, are the: DSLR camera, Lapel mic and Huauwei phone. Oddly, drone laws and the over commoditisation of drone shots are killing the drone vibe.

Point 3: Don’t read the camera manual for too long - get shooting!

You’ll figure it out, and if not, watch a VLOG on how to VLOG using your camera (kill 2 research phases with one channel, meta much?).

We tried to read the camera manual and got entirely disheartened. Then we watched a VLOG on using our camera and felt much happier. But then we ventured into the vast unknown and begun to film me walking and talking. And then to film me sitting and talking, and then to film me interviewing, and running, and hanging out etc.

You get the point. We put the camera on auto focus and tried our best to capture what we needed, and from trying we begun to evolve into an understanding of angles, lighting, sound etc. This is the best way to learn.

Some of our basic lessons (perhaps they can fast track you):

Autofocus versus manual - Auto makes a noise when it autocorrects the focus, so it’s not ideal if the subject hasn’t got a Lapel mic on them, or if you want the surround sound to pull through in the post edit (because you’ll hear the camera correcting itself loud and clear). However, I say start your Vlogging debut with Autofocus, particularly if there is a lot of movement in your shot (i.e. you are not sitting filming a stationary shot of yourself at the end of your bed).

Golden Hour is called Golden Hour for a reason - it’s very easy to shoot anything when lighting isn’t an issue. Although in Vlogging lighting isn’t as key as personality, it’s nice to know the best lighting exists and hour before sunset and an hour after after sunrise (particularly relevant for outdoor context shots). If you’re shooting indoors / in the shade, lighting isn’t really an issue.

Drones are cool, but everyone and their child has one as is posting drone shots. Don’t use a drone just to use a drone. Only use if if the perspective the drone provides helps tell your story, and only use the drone shot in the post edit for just long enough - i.e. don’t show off that you have a drone - that’s old news.  


Point 4: Prepare, prepare, prepare for shoot day.


Pre-production still applies to Vlogging. The big guys make it look like they’re unprepared and that their life just happens to roll the way the video flows, but they’re actually super smart and plan for most of what they shoot. You’d be surprised just how much they plan.

Also, as consistency is key in building an audience, plan a realistic shoot schedule. YouTube is now filled with guys talking about burnout, because they set unrealistic expectations with their audience from the start.

Know what being prepared means to you and your Vlog. We conduct interviews, so our prep comes in the form of the following key points: setting up the interview, researching the subject (immensely), preparing the questions (some people request questions in advance), planning the outfit(s), charging the equipment and clearing old memory cards (small detail, but often overlooked).

Okay, that's it for this week. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And please do subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of episode 3, coming soon.