Click on photos to enlarge.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to Make a "How to" Art Video

This page is video intensive, so please allow extra time for loading.
Click "refresh" if it fails to load in a reasonable time.

This video was created in about an hour using only the equipment mentioned below.

There was a time, not all that many years ago, when if you wanted to learn about art, or even become an artist, your first stop might be your local public library (still not a bad idea). Today, however, your first stop might be YouTube. Just type "painting" into the search box. You'll get 7,190,000 results (enjoy yourself). "Art" will get you over 44-million possibilities. There was a time when, if you wanted to teach what you knew about art, you worked out a deal with some public venue having a backroom and started advertising. Or you got certified as an art instructor in the public schools. Today, you simply make a video demonstrating your art. There was a time when, if you wanted to make a demonstration video you were talking about thousands of dollars worth of cameras, video and audio recorders, and video editing equipment that looked like it came straight from the bridge of Star Trek's Enterprise. Today, all you need to teach your art via video is a camcorder, a tripod, a home computer (with video editing software), a few lights, and possibly an assistant. 

Nothing fancy, just make sure the
videoscreen rotates facing forward.
A desktop computer may also serve as 
a teleprompter during shooting if the
camera is mounted atop the screen.

Video production, a skill many
adults wish they'd learned as kids.

I made my first video production teaching a group of high school art students in 1972, before home video was even invented. We used an 8mm movie camera and a cassette recorder. A ten-minute comedy production took six weeks to plan, shoot, and edit. I decided not to compete with Steven Spielberg. A few years later, I blessed the geeks at Sony who invented Betamax. I taught a high school course in electronic arts and sciences. The "portable" recording unit weighed 20 pounds, and editing was crude, more art than science, with a good deal of luck thrown in. (I had a very cooperative school librarian.) My first "how-to" video was created out of sheer self-survival using a reel-to-reel video recorder in black and white--four chalk-board demonstrations on the mysteries of linear perspective. They saved me from having to give the same instructional performance five time a day, two days in a row for each lesson (virtually all instructional videos require the element of repetition to be effective).

An excellent "how to" video emphasizing the importance of expert editing.

Retirement gave me the time to experiment, learn, and produce another series of short videos on art history. The steady march of digital technology gave me the wherewithal do so on a meager budget. YouTube gave me the public forum to present them. You'll find them there bearing the title of this blog. The content is a translation of glowing words to, admittedly, less-than-glowing audio-video presentations. As I mentioned before, the competition online is overwhelming. But in teaching art via video, that one word, "content" is the number one consideration. The theme comes first, then the script (ad-libbing is okay only when demonstrating but even then, requires a good deal of deft editing). The setting, camera work, lighting, and sound are far less important than one might think. The key element in all these is experimentation. It costs virtually nothing but time and some creative effort. In any case, do NOT let this aspect overwhelm the content. It is a means, not an end. If this part fascinates you the most, skip shooting about art and make the video a work of art itself.
Lighting, strong on one side,
not so much on the other.
For the small, digital camcorders
today, a lightweight tripod will suffice.
Finally, the equipment--don't go overboard. The old KISS rule applies (keep it simple, stupid). Today, virtually any mid-priced camcorder will suffice. The most important part is you rather than the tools--learn to use them effectively. Don't try this without a tripod. You'll probably need a floodlight or two (the good, old-fashioned, clip-on variety will usually suffice). Your work area or den, cleared of distracting clutter, will very often look better than a makeshift production "studio." You can do it all by yourself, but an assistant makes things go more smoothly. And finally, you'll need a computer powerful enough to handle video editing software. (I use Sony's Vegas Platinum--$79.) Here is where the learning curve gets steep. Merely learning to shoot video is fun and mostly instinctive. Editing video might be some people's definition of fun, but to me, it's work. As much as the video geeks who invented the software might try to make it so, editing is not instinctive. It is highly technical. You can learn do do it yourself, but not overnight, believe me. And if you pay someone to do your them well.
A good demonstration video featuring the artist as well as his work.
This production would appear to be a one-man job.

A good instructional video is made up of three elements--content, production values, and talent. YOU are the talent, and I'm not just talking about being a talented artist or expert in your field. That's assumed. In television, "talent" is shorthand for those in front of the camera. It's so important TV networks pay individuals hundreds of thousands, even millions for it. If you're an experienced teacher, you've probably developed a talent for presentation. Charisma plays a part. So does humor, personality, a clear speaking voice, and fluent speech. Speak slowly, distinctly, and with modulation in tone and volume. This takes practice, and not necessarily in front of a camera. Even a mirror will do, though a recorded video allows for repetition and self-evaluation. You won't get rich or famous on YouTube. (Justin Bieber wasn't teaching art.) But you will broaden your skills, perhaps gain a modicum of recognition, and some degree of self-satisfaction in mentioning in passing your YouTube art video. Best of all, you might inspire at least one would-be artists.


My most recent art history production, also my longest and least viewed.

No comments:

Post a Comment