I’ve spent the last couple of weeks polishing my YouTube channel up to see what kind of traction I could get, and I’m actually quite impressed with the results of nothing but organic traffic so far. When I set up the account 15 years ago I posted a timelapse video of putting polyurethane on the office floor, which somehow generated 11,000 views over time. I dumped random videos there from time to time but never really took it seriously until I posted the Hudson recovery video last year, which racked up another 11,000 views in five months.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of hours watching or listening to about thirty channels on YT, mostly “Will it run?”-themed. From what I’ve seen a lot of the top posters in this category have 500K+ followers, allowing them to monetize the channel and buy their own racetracks or move to larger properties and build giant garage workshops. I’m nowhere at that level, but testing out the algorithm and learning how to produce the videos has been fun so far.

I’ve been working mainly with a couple of older GoPro Session cubes, Dad’s 12-year-old Canon Vixia camcorder, and my iPhone to capture footage. The GoPros are great for set-and-forget timelapse shots, which I’ve been leveraging heavily, and the iPhone is great for handheld interstitial shots with narration. I have a Hero Session 5 with built-in stabilization and a Hero Session which  doesn’t, so I use the 5 along with my phone for any handheld work. The Vixia is definitely showing its age. Its sensor is old so it’s very contrasty, and the footage is grainy compared to the modern cameras. However, it makes for a good tripod-mounted talk-into-camera unit, and with a $10 DC-in cord and a $10 XLR to 1/4″ headphone cable, I can use an old shotgun mic from work to improve its built-in sound quality.

I think the working model for filming moving forward is going to be something like:

  • The Vixia is set up on a tripod for into-camera shots, where I’m explaining something I’ve found or setting the stage
  • The GoPro Session 5 is a hand-held/maybe head-mounted unit for showing what I’m actually working on
  • The GoPro Session is set up as a dedicated tripod-mounted timelapse unit
  • My iPhone is used for supplemental handheld shots—usually when I’m taking a break and giving updates.

For editing I’m using my old friend Final Cut Pro but I’m finding that even with an M2 chip in my MacBook Air it’s still laggy at times. I should have sprung for 16GB of RAM in hindsight, but for now it’s getting the job done, and like everything else I’ve ever done, I’ll keep working on a shoestring budget and making it work.

As I assemble each video, what I’m finding is that I have to spend a lot more time planning shots out to get better coverage, and also to narrate what I’m doing in the moment without repeating myself. The pros make it look a lot easier than it actually is. Usually when I’m working on the trucks I’m hustling flat out so that I can make the absolute most of the day, and any footage I pick up is a bonus. I don’t want to slow progress down but I do need to carefully consider what I’m doing, think ahead about how I can set up new shots, and fluidly move between tasks so that it’s not as jumpy. I’m also considering some kind of head or chest GoPro mount to easily capture what I’m working on up close instead of depending on tripod-mounted static shots.

I followed some basic instructions for how to set up a channel and for how to post each video with the right information—adding the right titles, descriptions, keywords, and leveraging the built-in tools to cross-promote other videos in the channel. From what my analytics show, I’m getting a fair bit of views from my embedded posts on The Binder Planet, but there are a lot more folks finding it through organic search on YouTube.

As a basic exercise it’s been really good to practice shooting and editing skills, and develop a workflow for collecting and editing all the footage (there’s so much footage from each one of these) as well as the ins and outs of building a social media channel, which is helpful for work.

Date posted: March 28, 2024 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

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