Why I decided to start a YouTube channel in 2021
That was the first "real" YouTube video I have ever made! It's hard to believe a whole month has already gone by since I hit that big, red, terrifying upload button. I really need to get going on a second episode...
(consistency is key, Parker, consistency is key). I learned a lot from this first one though. Growth-wise, I went from just two subscribers, all the way to 64, off of just this one video. That's a 32x increase! Of course I really doubt that video #2 will achieve the same factor of growth and take me from 64 to 2,048, but hey, not a bad goal, right? I got way more comments and feedback than I ever expected, and all-in-all it was actually a really positive, gratifying experience. I really love teaching, and a secret dream of mine has always been to imagine myself as a professor in my later years, leather patches on the elbows and all. I always figured I'd have to go out and have some illustrious career before I would be invited back to teach, but then I started thinking, why not just start sharing my knowledge, expertise, and way of doing things... right now? YouTube and the global power of the internet can offer me a far, far bigger classroom than any future, imagined college or university ever could.
I have been thinking about starting a channel for a while, was feeling antsy and nervous that day to just start filming and get on with it, so I had gone down to my car, dragged a bunch of film gear up to my second-story apartment, and was in the process of going hardcore for the fist set-up. I built up my usual anamorphic rig and started trying to find the best spot in my apartment to film. Set-up, however, took way longer than I anticipated. Nothing really seemed to work in the larger living room areas I had planned for at first, and I quickly gave up the anamorphic attempt, manually focusing on myself was just going to be way too difficult.
For some reason, I ended up selecting the very smallest room in my entire apartment. So small that my usual soft box set-up was going to be impossible, but I liked the angle of the wall and the iMac in the background, plus the small window, it (hopefully) provided at least some small amount of visual interest and a balanced frame (Hidden Movie Detail Revealed: If you look closely at the iMac, the video shown there in the Final Cut timeline is, in fact, an anamorphic flare, from my kitchen, while I was trying and failing to set up this video for the first time lol). Here is a little BTS pic of the YouTube set-up I ultimately went with:
Necessity being the father of invention, I ended up jerry-rigging an artificial silk to the doorframe of my closet, and bouncing a 1x1 LED panel against the interior white wall of said closet to create a sort of mini book light set-up. Light was spilling everywhere, so I added as much negative fill as I could on my left side, and that was that. The room is far smaller (and messier!) than it appears on camera. It took me so long to be even semi-happy with it, that it was pretty much dark by the time I started rolling (see YouTube thumbnail at the top of this post). As soon as that red light was rolling though, my mind just went blank. I felt a little silly, chatting there to my camera and the imaginary interwebz, alone in my apartment. Fast-forward two hours, and I was tired, sweaty, exhausted, thirsty (at least 8 cans of LaCroix peach-pear were harmed -- and consumed -- during the making of this video) and I actually just kind of gave up for the night. I didn't like anything I was saying, I was just rambling, I had no direction, I was starting and stopping a lot, it would have been an absolute nightmare to edit. I went to bed feeling a little bummed out. Luckily I was too tired and defeated to even bother with taking down any of the set-up at all, so the next morning, renewed with some new, rest-provided filmmaking vim and vigor (and a cooler t-shirt), this time I spent the morning actually writing out a script, and telemprompting that sucker on my iPad so that there was no rambling necessary. I also added a Forza 500 with a fresnel on my deck outside, pointing back in through the window, to give me an edge/hairligh and boost that morning sun feelingt:
You can totally see the c-stand out the window, and I probably should have tried to photoshop it out and mask a cleaner background plate back in, but ehh. I think, overall, it's a pretty "natural, unlit" look, which I guess is what I generally strive for, although it seems like most YouTubers tend to prefer the darker, moodier, "RGB in the background" look. Maybe I'll experiment with that some more in the future. Actually, now that I think about it, I did just shoot a video last week for my new jerb (Creative Director, oh how I love the sound of that title 😱😎) but I think it kind of exemplified that more typical streamer/modern YouTuber look a bit more:
Annoyingly, in comparison to the absolute slog of setting up the first YouTube video, this particular set-up took literally like 15 minutes, just turning off the overhead lights, keying with a soft box from the left, throwing some neg on the right, fresnel LED coming in hot for that 3/4 backlight, and an RGB panel set to some brand-blue splashing in the background. It's definitely a more interesting frame. All that depth in the background really helps. Maybe I should have rented a bigger apartment? 🤔 But I have some solid ideas for future videos. It's funny because the gratification was so immediate, making the first one, that I thought about just jumping right into making videos 2, 3, 4 and maybe even 5, immediately the next day... but I didn't, and now a whole month has gone by, and I'm feeling that trepidation, nervousness and fear creeping right back up again. So maybe publishing this blog post to the wide world of the web, which perhaps 10 or so people will glance at in the next year, will give me the fortitude needed to soldier on. We'll check back and see before too long. Over and out!
----- NOTE: From about 4:27 to 4:53, behind-the-scenes clips of me on set have been blurred out after a client complaint.