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What You Learn When You Vlog For The First Time


Memorial Day was pretty busy at the store. It was cold and gloomy in the bay, and that kind of weather always drove customers to enclosed malls like ours.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Naturally,  I wanted my Vlog pilot released to coincide with this event, as this will document my Naturalization process. The change from common Asian to Asian American. It was now or October — which is Filipino American History Month. 

I have bigger plans for October though. So, I had beaten myself to incredible stress just to get my first Vlog episode(?) out. Currently, I'm nursing a Rotator Cuff Tendinitis which is an unbearably painful swollen shoulder. I've had this problem since I had a car accident last year.

I was on the new Adobe Premier CC the whole day on Saturday, re-learning the damn program and editing the damn episode at the same time. My arm and shoulder were stuck at a particular angle for twelve hours. And that triggered my injuries. My eyes are welling up just recalling the ordeal. I've been having a hard time driving for the past two days.

This is but one result of, and evidence thereof, my lack of proper training.

So what are the things I learned from the three-minute-movie I made?

1. Action Expresses Priorities

It took me the whole first 2017 quarter to decide whether I would, or even should, start this project. When I came to a decision to build my portfolio half a year ago, I didn't know where to start. I thought I should start by improving my social skills. I subscribed to different self-help YouTube tutorials. Which then eventually lead me to other technical tutorials and this video: 

I wrote down my list and came up with 23 things. I didn't even need to find the five most important goals in this list. The first things I wrote on it were — (1) MAKE MOVIES, (2) WRITE, & (3) PHOTOGRAPHY. (Four and Five were about Geeking out, and though those are important, it's pretty irrelevant to my point.)

People have continuously asked me what I wanted to do with my life. And I've answered this question a hundred thousand times. It already came to a point where I felt like nobody believes me anymore.

Showing the world what I can do was the only way to answer their question. Action expresses priorities.

2. The Importance of Planning

When you watch Casey Neistat or any of the other vloggers out there, you'd think that everything's done spontaneously. But I've learned spontaneity only drags out the process. I read up and listened to these vloggers, and they have said they plan everything out. Even the daily vlogs.

I could have finished this one episode two weeks ago. But I kept on finding out that my sequence was missing a shot, or my narrative was changing along the way. At one point I had to re-shoot an entire sequence. And sometime somewhere, I had to re-do a sequence and didn't get to do it at all.

Planning is essential because it keeps the steps to your goal lined up. Organize your thoughts. Keep you from forgetting important details. Send the stress away.

Of course, there's always room for change. But if there's no room at all, nothing will change.

A re-shoot of the scene, but ended up not using any of the footage.    


3. Arranging Tasks In A Chronological Order

To make life easier, these are the steps I have come up with to complete a vlog-episode (Vlogisode? Vlogsode?)

1. Script
2. Voice Over at midnight or very early in the morning
3. Shot List
4. Shooting
5. Picking the Right Footage
6. Music
7. Edit
8. Release
It's not exactly Hollywood standards, but I do think this will give me more time to do more things. And I've got a lot of things to do for this year alone.

4. Pace Yourself Because You Still Need To Go Back To Your Job The Next Day
I have at least one week lead time before I release an episode. That means I don't need to sit down and edit for 12 hours just to finish editing.

Now that I know the basics of Adobe Premier, I could pick my footage and line them up before I go to sleep. I could find the appropriate music during my breaks at work. Then I could concentrate on the actual editing, effects, and coloring on my days off.

This practice should keep me from spraining my shoulders again. I had to call in sick the other day because I couldn't even lift my arms halfway up, let alone drive to work or pick up after customers.

5. Script, Shot List, and Why Industry Standard Procedures Are Effective Even For YouTube Vlogs

I don't know why I could not remember having learned this from the workshops I attended. But this is so helpful in planning and eventually shooting.

It narrows down the thoughts of a director's mind, I believe. When I was thinking of this episode, I had so many visions of scenes and shots and angles. Most of which I shot, more than half of which I didn't use. Then during editing, I find out I'm missing footage for some parts of the script. To do the shoot would delay the release. But without it, a sequence would not make sense.

It was a complete waste of time. Now I understand industry standards help eliminate wasting time. It serves as a rope to keep you on the path up the mountain peak. Let go fo this rope, and you'd probably end up in the middle of the forest. Then you'd have to waste time again finding your way back.

Here's how to do shot lists.

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