The tiny video toolkit

People ask me how I do the tiny videos. I hope to do a screencast at some point, but in the meantime, here are some notes:

Video recording – I record them on my iPhone 11 Pro, I have Rode Wireless Go mics with a lav mic (these hook directly into the iPhone so the audio track is embedded in the video), a DJI Osmo Mobile gimble (totally not needed), and a cheap tripod. I record in 4k (see below for converting it for web). When I do “in the studio” I use the iPhone as well with Camo Studio and some Eve strip LED lighting. I have a black backdrop behind me. I use the FilMiC Pro Mobile on iOS to record – probably overkill, but if I ever get the remote thing working, it’ll be cool (I’d be able to control my main phone with another phone!). Their DoubleTake app is cool too – I used that for a couple Garbage Chairs of Amsterdam videos to bounce between me and the chair.

Audio – I don’t really do anything with audio now – it gets recorded into the track. It’d be nice to noise cancel, compress, level, and stuff, but, whatever. Once that gets built into LumaFusion, I’ll probably just flip those switches. Descript will level the audio, which is nice. I don’t know, man: the audio is good enough – I could stand to have more gain, but, again: whatever.

Editing – I edit in LumaFusion on iOS. I do most all editing on my iPhone, no shit. I’m often watching my daughter, feeding her, or otherwise somewhere besides a desk, so I’ve gotten really good at editing on my phone. Weird, but I like it. I’ve done it on my iPad and kind of like that less. Video editing software is very personal and muscle memory: I make no claims that what works for me would work for you: just pick something and train your hands to do the things. I could go over my editing style as well which, I like to think, is especially tuned for these short, quick videos.

Subtitles – I started using Descript to get subtitles. It’s good stuff. I’ve done some editing in Descript – it will delete out filler words (“uh,” “like,” etc.) and silence pretty well. I don’t like the video editing in Descript. Sometimes, if I need a Twitter length video (max 2 minutes 20 seconds), I’ll use Descript to edit it down a bit. Then I have separate subtitles for the “everything but Twitter version” and the Twitter one. Sounds like extra work, but it’s actually fine.

Thumbnails – I use Adobe Spark Post. It’s awesome and perfect for this job. I have an Adobe CC subscription, so I occasionally use to find zaney things. I also have a stock footage subscription that I occasionally use for silly interstitials (like clowns in my bozo bit video).

Posting – I do that all manually, per site. I did a rough analysis of where/how to post videos. My finding was that no one clicks on YouTube links: you need to publish the videos “natively” in each service: LinkedIn (best performing for my videos), Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. The last three don’t really work well for my videos, so I’ve started ignoring them. To make this clear: you can’t just put a YouTube link in Twitter and LinkedIn for promotion: people won’t click on the link! So, I upload manually to YouTube, (a nice find I didn’t know about!), and LinkedIn. The thing with this is just knowing the various formats and subtitle expectations for each. Twitter vidoes need to be max 2 minutes 20 seconds, LinkedIn can be up to 10 minutes, YouTube doesn’t care. Twitter MP4s need to be 500 megs or less, so I encode those to 720p – the others will take 4k, so I upload full 4k to them.

CTAs – you can put links into YouTube videos (“cards” and end frame things) – from what I can tell, no one clicks on those in my videos so I stopped doing them. You can also plop links into the YouTube description: I do this, I don’t know if they work. If you use, you can put one link that appears as an overlay to “watch more” (like, link to a full YouTube video) or “visit site” (like, go to a landing page to download my two free books). With LinkedIn, you just put the links in the post.

Promotion – dude, fuck if I know. Hashtags? I’m pretty sure the only way to get better promotion for my videos is to get people much more famous then me to point to them.

Interviewing – if I’m interviewing someone, I do it in Zoom and record the video. I figured out some settings where you can record the gallery view and the switching between active speaker view. The video quality is terrible, but I don’t ever want people to have to mess around.

Streaming – I use OBS with a few core scenes (one big head talking, sharing a screen with a head). The best tip I got on OBS was to tune down the resolution to 720p. While my Netherlands internet can take most anything, I don’t have the compute horse-power to do more. Besides, who’s going to stream 4k? When I stream, OBS records the video and then I take that video and edit it and post to YouTube. I haven’t done much streaming this year…I don’t like it.

Studio stuff – for a mic, I have an Apogee MiC 94k. It’s great! I think there’s a newer model now, probably fine. I currently use an Eve LED strip on the wall in front of me for lighting. I keep it on white at 25% brightness. I hook up my iPhone 11 Pro with Camo Studio so I can use. With the black backdrop I have, I found that messing around with the gamma kind of fades out the background enough (I have no idea what “gamma” is). I, of course, have those boom arm things for the iPhone/camera and mic. Mine are shit, but they work.