Learning to Make Videos

The comments are … not exactly rolling in.  But they have started over on my YouTube channel.  If I keep making videos and posting them there, I’ll likely pass 10,000 views in the next month or so.

I think my videos are terrible.  But we talked about them in one of my classes today, and with some quick math skills determined that I’d made somewhere between five and a half, and six hours, of writing and content-related videos.

How many hours of creating content are “enough” that your work starts to get noticed?  How many before your work stands out as high-quality?  How many before you feel like you’ve mastered the form?

My main creative effort for a long time was writing sonnets.  The archives of this blog are littered with some of them. Eventually I produced over three thousand of them, at least some of which are to be found in these pages.  And then I found that I felt I had mastered the form, and it held only minimal interest to me after that.   It was hard to write a sonnet again, not because it was genuinely difficult, but because I had a sense of how it would turn out the moment I wrote the first line.

I wonder if Shakespeare felt like that after only a hundred fifty-four?  No wonder he’s better than me — he was able to identify his capabilities in a given field a lot earlier than I could, and move on.

Back to my videos.  Given the number of people who seem to find my videos snooze-worthy, it’s probably worth my time and effort to learn how to make better videos.  So I need data.  I need people to watch them, so that I can sort through the statistics and figure out which videos are good.  But to do that, I need a lot of people who are willing to watch parts of them, and then abandon them when they get bored (so YouTube has statistics to track and share with me).  And I need to re-watch my videos (even the agonizingly bad ones), and figure out how to make them better.

In other words, the ingredient is time.  Time for the videos and their keywords and related videos to percolate through the YouTube community, time for one of my videos to go viral to one degree or another (bad or good), time for a school or community other than my own to discover that these videos are useful, time for me to assimilate and then master the form.

Either way, the solution is to make more videos.  The basic format is likely to remain the same — under five minutes, some cartoonish content, a quick writing lesson, or a quick taste of historical content.

I also need to get my colleagues and students involved in this project.  If they’re involved in the process of making videos, we’re likely to discover tips and tricks which will save us all a lot of time and uncover counter-intuitive errors that are obvious upon reflection.

It’s kind of exciting to be putting my feet into a new creative medium, and giving it a good effort.  Apparently some positive feedback has reached my boss about it, and I’m excited for the potential it brings to my work as a teacher.

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