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How To Make Cooking Videos

December 15th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

A lot of people ask me about tips on making cooking videos. When I make my video, I am not attempting to create a TV style slick show, nor am I trying to haphazardly record rote recipe preparation. I think the slick television type video production must be reserved for those with the skill and the time, which I lack. My goal is to create clear, concise easy to follow videos that contain new information for the viewer. In short, I am attempting to provide educational videos on the topic of cooking. Due to my current limited equipment I am not happy with the sound or light quality of my videos, however I decided to strive to make the best videos I could with what I had available before diving in and making a more serious financial investment. I needed also to be able to create the videos in a time sensitive manner so as not to excessively detract from my other innumerable responsibilities.

About a year ago I was given a tiny digital camera, which took videos! I got the idea to try and capture some of my favorite recipes on video, so I could eventually share them with my young daughter. At first, I tried editing using the software which came included on my laptop, windows movie maker…as with many Microsoft products this software left a great deal to be desired. I changed tactics and decided to attempt to record my recipes live, as I went, with accompanying explanations as clear as I could make them. I still use windows movie maker, and am happy to have it. I add titles and transitions between clips and that’s all.

I came up with a few guidelines which aided greatly in creating my videos.

* First the basics which cannot be overstated:

o LOOK AT THE CAMERA – its so easy to forget this while cooking, after all its not a speech and you are working. Try to minimize views of your back.

o Speak clearly being careful to annunciate your words. Try to project your voice, as though you were on stage, which in a way, you are.

o State what your recipe is, what ingredients are involved and give measurements when practical

o Don’t move too much – keep motion down to what is essential for the preparation of the dish

o I started with youtube which limited the duration to 10 minutes, and I still try and stick to this … in todays day and age nobody has time to watch forever, and 10 minutes is long enough without resorting to a great deal of post filming editing.

* I try to do as much prep work as possible off camera, ahead of time. This includes measuring ingredients and placing in small bowls, chopping, dicing and the like. Unless the technique involved is novel or interesting there is no need for the viewer to watch 5 potatoes being diced fine.

* I try to film in natural stages, ending clips where appropriate and resuming when valuable to the viewer – for example, nobody needs to watch a pot of simmering liquid simmer for 20 mins.

* I think about what I am preparing for dinner as I shop, and I think about the parts of the recipe, how it breaks down naturally – first we combine ingredients, then cook or marinade or whatever, then season, further treat and finally serve.

* I try to film each part of the food preparation in one continuous pass, so that there is no subsequent need for editing. This can be problematic in a house with children, pets and the various noises and needs that arise from same, so I start a lot of videos and end up not using them – simple salmon in foil packets is one that I will someday post, I’ve made it for my family countless times since I started recording my dinner preparations – but for some reason, there is always a child having a meltdown (which is rare normally) a dog who won’t stop barking, a ringing phone – something disruptive.

* If something mild occurs while I am filming I try not to overreact and continue on cooking and talking – for example, causally remove cat from butcher block and continue cooking/filming.

* Initially I neglected to include in my videos a shot showing the final plating of the dish. I now try to always do this, as well as taking a picture of the final product.

* Initially, I neglected to provide close-ups of crucial phases of a preparation. I try to incorporate these more often, but within reason as there is only me, and one camera

* I turn on my little camera and place it on a 64 oz jar of organic apple juice and aim it towards the area I cook in. I look through the lens to make sure its roughly in the right place.

* I turn off the camera after first cuing in the potential viewers with a statement like “I will be back after the chicken marinates to demonstrate what to do next” this allows for a transition to the next clip without more formal editing.

* The number one problem with my little camera is lack of space, so I need to transfer my video clips to my computer as I take them – then delete them from the camera and film the next clip. More than once I have inadvertently ran out of space and thought I was recording when I was not.

* I film most nights, not concerned with my physical appearance – because to worry about this on top of everything else would no doubt decrease the number of videos I can make.

* Finally, once you have made your video – watch it, all the way through. I find this painful, because I tend to be self – conscious but it is essential. Watch it for continuity, accuracy and basic ‘watchability’. If you are lucky to have someone willing, get someone else to watch it through as well. Then go ahead and post it, this isn’t rocket science after all!

Maria Gray

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