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Shoot YouTube Videos Like a Pro

Updated on March 1, 2017
Big boys like WizKid and Tinie Tempah spend serious money on music videos.
Big boys like WizKid and Tinie Tempah spend serious money on music videos. | Source

Think Before You Shoot Videos

What is the story in your YouTube video? How are you going pan it out? Your target is the 30 million plus viewers that visit YouTube daily, but you are competing with funnies like dogs dragging blankets.

There are many online platforms dedicated to video content. The problem is that your video is competing with over a billion other posts. That is why it's important to make it stand out. Focus should be clear, unless you distort it for creative reasons, let's say it's a ghost story.

Whether you are using a mobile phone, camcorder or professional camera crew, you must not forget that it is photography, moving photography. That's why it is called movies.

Music Videos Tips

Big boys and girls in the music business spend serious cash on videos. You don’t need that kind of money for home videos or YouTube.

You can put together a professional looking video for your niece’s bike trainers or a cooking video you want to submit for a TV contest. Journalists are taught to always find answers for the following questions.

Who? What? Why? Where? When?

Jay Chou's music video Checkmate is well laid out because it is shot like a movie. Costumes (clothes in the video) are very hip hop.

Who Will Be In The Video?

Bike Video: The answer is your niece. She is the star. Your brother is in a supporting role because he is teaching his daughter how to ride her first bike.

Answering this question determines what they are going to wear (bright clothes are nice) and when the video will be shot. Your brother doesn’t work on Mondays but your niece is in kindergarten and you are not available to do camera work on that day.

Cooking Video: The answer is couscous, lamb, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, carrots, garden peas garlic, ginger and lemons, if you are making a lamb stew for the couscous. A clean stove, pots and pans will also be in the video. Last but not least, your nails. Cut them. Nobody will eat food prepared by unhygienic hands.

Bike Video: You and your brother must write a storyboard or a little screenplay, because a video tells a story. You will need a bicycle and trainers. When will your brother fit the trainers?

Cooking Video: You must go to the grocery store for ingredients. Have you cooked couscous before? If not, practise before shooting the video. I use a big sieve to steam it. You might opt for a Chinese bamboo steamer. Buy one if you don’t have it. It’s a must for steaming vegetables or dumplings.

Editing: Editing the video with your brother and niece will be fun. Download the footage on your computer and choose the best shots. Most computers will give you instructions on how to join them into a little movie. They will even show you how to write a title page and add music. You can hire a professional video editor if you have the money.

Toronto.  One of the cool things about Toronto.  You can bump into a famous director making a movie.  People are so used to it, they just look, smile and get on with their business.
Toronto. One of the cool things about Toronto. You can bump into a famous director making a movie. People are so used to it, they just look, smile and get on with their business. | Source

Where Will You Shoot The Video

Bike Video: The store where your niece will choose her first bike, in the garage showing your brother fitting the trainers, at home when your niece puts on her little helmet, in the park where your brother guides her, her first fall and an ice cream cone as a reward for her first bike attempt. If you are lucky, you will have a shot of her sleeping in the car on the way home.

Cooking Video: Take the camera to the garden if the cook has a vegetable garden. Shoot video when he plucks some red chilies or pulls carrots from the soil. Color makes great video anytime.

You are going to shoot the video in your kitchen. Maybe not. It is too small for a video shoot. You can’t move around for those close-up shots. Yes, your video camera has the zoom option, but the fun is testing your creativity and the camera’s capabilities.

Consider shooting in your mother’s country kitchen. Where the video is shot can make or break it. It’s a waste of time and effort if we can’t see anything because the kitchen is too dark.

Your niece’s helmet covers part of her face, but you can use a reflector to brighten it up before she pedals away. The photo store at the mall sells reflectors. She’s an adorable little girl and we want to see it.


Establishing shots: When you are watching a movie, you know that the heroine is at home because the filmmaker shows her house. You also know when she is at the gym. Include shots of your brother’s backyard so that we can establish where the little girl lives.

Get shots of ducks in the pond to establish that the bike training is happening in the park. Don’t show us the name of the store where your niece chooses her bike. You don’t want to give them free advertising.

Do you need permission to shoot in the store? I don’t know, but cellphones are part of life now especially where kids are involved. Capture your niece’s delight when she finally gets the bike she likes.

When are you going to shoot the video?

Bike Video: Shoot the video early morning before the sun wakes up. Look closely when you are watching a movie. Some scenes are muted, greens are greener, water is clearer. It’s because most filmmakers shoot early morning or late evening to avoid the harsh sun.

Cooking Video: This is easier because you are shooting indoors. You control the lighting situation. Video cameras from electronics shops have good built-in lighting software but extra lights in the kitchen won’t hurt your video.

Shooting Tricks

  1. Shoot many shots of the same scene. Movie directors call them takes. This is for the sewing and knitting in the editing suite. It enables them to find the best shot for a particular scene.

  2. Re-shooting scenes is expensive, so the more takes the better.

  3. Always think of editing when shooting a video. Take a shot of those pot plants in the kitchen window. You can use them when sewing the video.

  4. Get a shot of the cook switching off the gas burner.

  5. Get a shot of your brother and his daughter giving themselves a high five (hitting their open palms)

    The End


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