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Thread: desperately need brutal criticism

  1. #1

    Default desperately need brutal criticism

    a few months ago i was debating some kid on youtube and he suggested that instead of text comments i put my argument in a youtube video. i frankly didn't see the point but i did it because i believe in trying new things. now its my favorite hobby, so since i am now starting to do it fairly regularly i decided i need to start improving.

    my first concern was that with my bad diction and Russian accent it would be hard to understand what i am saying so i went on a music recording forum and asked them how i could improve my sound quality. they made a few simple suggestions like moving the microphone away from reflecting surfaces and keeping my back straight - when i implemented those suggestions the sound improved considerably.

    encouraged by this, i would now like to get some criticism for the rest of my video ( not just the sound, as those guys were sound professionals ).

    here is the video i made yesterday ( you can watch in 720p on youtube ):

    my main concern this time is i was forced to apply an enormous amount of correction to the white point and in the end the color still seems off. i used only halogen lighting and a Vixia HF100 camcorder. i think the problem is in the color of paint on my walls - they are definitely not white - they have a certain hue which seems to have a strong effect on the lighting conditions as the light gets bounced around the walls and white point adjustment seems not quite able to fix it. this same camcorder gets great color in natural daylight. i was thinking to repaint my walls with a paint that was truly white like photocopier paper ?

    anyway ALL criticism is welcome as long as it is something i could improve in the future. for example if you say i am stupid that may very well be the case but not much i can do about it. otherwise its all fair game - i encourage you to critique ALL aspects of my video including myself. ( without going into politics of course, or otherwise over forum rules ).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Putting your arguments on You-Tube like this (effectively video blogging or "vlogging") can be very effective.
    I'm very impressed that you can just stand there for 18 minuites plus and argue your case, clearly and intelligently.
    You are absolutely correct that it is important to getting good sound is crucial (whilst you speak very clearly and your voice is captured well, there is a noticable hum in the background which you would do well to get rid of.

    Having your own voice helps ensure the correct interpretation is given to what you say - using text can sometimes inadvertantly mislead aw we don't get all the nuances and inflections.

    Having your face in a video adds sincerity and shows you're not hiding behind some fake ID.

    All good so far .... BUT ....

    One long shot of you speaking to the camera is not going to hold anyone's interest for very long, not even your mother's. Even if you were doing a song an dance routine (I'm not suggesting that you do) one shot doesn't work.
    But we really need to spice this up.
    Here are some suggestions:
    1. Use more than one camera and cut between angles.
    2. Use cutaways - simply captions emphasising what you are saying will work: use a slogan format eg "According to governments: pesticides kill, but safe for us to eat?" I'm sure you can do much better than my trite example. This will vary the video and give you the opportunity to cut to a different shot or edit the sound to remove a cough, hesitation or just cut to a different take.
    3. Superimpose keywords over the video
    4. Show videos of examples - eg show some generic crop spraying footage, show a poison symbol, I'm sure you get the idea.
    5. Consider introducing some music, but this must be appropriate and definietly not wall to wall. Best used to accompany other clips (eg crop spraying) or captions.
    6. Similarly consider using ambient sounds (again of crop spraying or whatever you are showing.
    7. If you are quoting reports, print off the bits quoted and film them to show when you'r quoting.
    8. If you're quoting people and you have access to video of them speaking, see if you can introduce that footage (permission will be needed, but you might not be too concerned about that: in certain countries there is such a thing as "fair use" which may cover this.
    9. If you're really ambitious, don't stop a captions, include animated diagrams or even cartoons.

    Having given you some hints I'm sure you can come up with loads of ideas of your own. The key thing is to keep the viewer interested.

    As for the shot you have, try to shoot so your eyes are two thrids of the way up the screen. Normally I'd suggest you move to one side slightly (so you're two thirds right or left) and have something "appropriate" in the background (possibly out of focus), but just off centre is OK for a piece directly to camera.

    As you can see there's quite a lot to think about, but if you want to get your message across, you need to consider all this and more.

    Good luck and pleae let us see your next endeavour.

  3. #3


    you are absolutely right.

    i will start moving in the direction you outlined. it will be a slow and painful process, subject to budget and processing power limitations, but it is the right way.

    thank you for the excellent comment.
    Last edited by neurosport; 06-21-2011 at 01:17 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    One other thing I forgot to mention:
    You need to be really driven to get your message across in order to do this (and I get the impression you are) or really enjoy doing it, as it can be really time consuming. But it's really worth the effort.

  5. #5


    Tim has pointed out some really good ideas which I also recommend to you, to increase the interest and presentation of your important message.

    Before you start filming but after you have set up the lighting, do a white balance on the camera. Get someone to hold up a piece of white paper in front of the camera, zoom in in to this so it fills the frame, press the white balance button. this should then give you a better colour temperature to your image.

    Other things you might like to think about is your back ground. Standing in front of a plain wall doesn't look to good. I would recommend sitting and creating either a sort of studio look or something, anything more interesting than a plain wall. Sitting at a desk or a table or even in an arm chair would be better. Watch out for shooting with a bright window behind you as this can give you lighting problems. The other thing to consider about the back ground is to have it as far back as possible from where you are. This will help to give the shot depth where as now it's pretty flat on the screen. It will also give you the opportunity to create more interesting lighting.

    What lighting do you use at the moment? Try and get some sort of lamp that will give you a glint in your eye. This will make you look better.

    Another thing to look at is the framing. In this video you have cropped at your shoulder. One thing you shouldn't do is frame a shot so that you crop at the point of a body joint such as neck, elbow, hips, knees etc. always frame between these joints and not too much space above the head. For example the shot you have framed in this video would be better if you have a little less head space and crop it at the bottom across your nipples. Have the camera so it is at head hight and use the "rule of thirds" (Google it). Normally you wouldn't want the microphone in shot but I think in this type of video it doesn't matter, it's more important to get good sound by keeping the mic close to you, like you have it in this example. It would add a lot to your production values if you can have at least two cameras on you, one for a close up and one for a long shot. So in editing you can alternate between these shots.

    There is a lots more I could say but I think you've got enough to think about for now.

    I hope this helps.

    One last thing, I thought you did very well talking straight to camera for 18 mins but you forgot to mention aspartame. It gives you brain cancer and is in every "diet/low cal" soda drink. BUT I'm sure you already know that.

    Well done for what you have done so far.

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