Hot Video Tips from James Hill

pedagogy corner Aug 09, 2022

Video content is where it’s at these days. Whether you’re a creator, music maker, teacher, or learner, there may very well be a need to record yourself. And there are plenty of tutorials out there about how to do this and what products are recommended.  

But what about those little extras that experienced content creators and musicians learn along the way? James has a wealth of experience with creating effective video content for both instruction (Uketropolis.com) and performance so we thought we’d ask the man himself.

Off we go with our rapid-fire round of hot tips from James Hill!

What’s the minimum set-up I need to make a good video?

An iPhone and a window! Light (especially natural light) might be the most important part of a video setup. If you get more serious, I would suggest upgrading your lights (e.g. to a dimmable halo light) even before upgrading your camera or audio.

Light (especially natural light) might be the most important part of a video setup.

What things are important to remember as I set things up?

Try to find a quiet space, ideally where you can leave your gear set up.

Also, give some thought to how you'll see yourself while you're shooting. If it's a phone, you'll use the screen but if it's a camera, I recommend a flip-out viewfinder so that you can position yourself properly in the frame and check for focus.

What do I want to be sure of when I press record?

Be sure you have plenty of time and hard-disk space!

What extras can make this easier or result in a more engaging experience for viewers?

Be very mindful of how your uke looks on-camera. After all, people will be looking closely at your fingers! Is the light glaring off that gloss finish? Are your fingers at an angle where viewers can see which frets you're on? Are both of your hands in the frame? These seem like basic things but they're essential to an engaging video. 

Any final words of wisdom?

Try to look into the camera. Sounds obvious but when you're watching yourself on a screen, your eyes aren't looking directly into the camera. Be sure you know exactly where the camera lens is when using a phone and look directly into it. Otherwise you can (unintentionally) appear aloof or distant.

Good luck!

Header art by Suvi Coulson. 

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