The first thing you will need (rather obviously!) is a recording device of some kind. My partner, a professional photographer, has a Canon 5D Mark II that can record videos and we decided to go with that (although he hadn’t used the recording function before).
We decided to mount the camera on a tripod so there wouldn’t be any sudden quirks, dips or sways to the angles. If one were an experienced cameraman, I guess these sorts of devices (close-ups, pullbacks) would add some additional flavour and dimension to the clip but given that this was the first time we were even attempting to do something like this, we thought we’d stick to a classic route.
I was keen to shoot midmorning (get it over with!) but my partner urged patience – the light is generally better at the end of the day (or, alternately, in the very early morning), and we had been promised a gray afternoon, which casts a flattering light for skin tones.
We chose our enclosed sunroom to do the shoot, because it has a clean, slightly rustic wood-paneled cream wall and a good source of natural light.
We didn’t want the overall look to be too bland, so we chose an African batik throw to cover the chair but apart from that, there were no accessories or adornments to the shot.
The angle we chose was straight on and at eye level. I wanted the ambience and effect to be as if the person listening were sitting across from me, in the sunroom.
Since the batik was brightly patterned, I dressed in black, which was also an appropriate colour to suit the book’s tone and subject matter. I did apply a little extra makeup and although the afternoon was rainy, the sun made intermittent appearances. To counter this, my partner propped a piece of white board on each side of my face, about half a foot away. This kept the light nicely balanced.
We did a few tests for sound and angles and so I could get a good idea of the pace at which I was speaking. I wanted to make sure I was sufficiently animated to keep people’s attention for the whole reading.
I had asked for suggestions from people who had read the book, for which passage to use, and I made my choice from there. Although the chapter I had selected was one of the shorter ones in the book, it still came out at 8.22 minutes, which is a good median average of the readings on YouTube.
I tried to vary the reading in tone and expression, in order to keep the listener’s attention.
As we recorded, ambient noise from the neighborhood made its way onto our soundtrack and we weren’t sure if this necessitated a re-record or if it added to the reading-from-our-livingroom-feel we were trying to achieve.
We downloaded the clip onto YouTube (very easy to do, you just need a Google account) and I sent it off to a few trusted test subjects who all fired back enthusiastic responses of “post it!”
So, I sent the link out via email, Facebook, LinkedIn and to various blog posts and two weeks later the views stand at 192 (as of May 15th), which I am delighted about – I was aiming for a high of 60! There is wide range in the number of views of posted readings; ranging from 6 to the high thousands.
And the real measure of success of course will come in book sales and I will have no idea of those for some time to come, But the great thing about YouTube is that you can watch the numbers and get some kind of feedback in that way and it does add a personalized touch.
You can see Lisa de Nikolits‘ video book reading on YouTube: http://bit.ly/aFk37p