Hello friends! I’m back with part 2 of my series covering how to capture your lettering on video. If you missed the first post, you’ll want to check it out here to get filled in on the tools you need (the post covers tripods and lighting – both are essentials for capturing your lettering on video!). Today’s topics are filming and editing your videos.
I never realized how much actually goes into filming your lettering until I sat down to write this post. Isn’t it funny how you can think something is so simple until you want to teach someone else how to do it? When it comes to filming and editing your videos, the concepts I put the most importance on are the method of filming (what app you should use), the actual setup for your video (where you place everything), how much prep-work should happen before you record (sketching, planning composition, etc.), and the easiest ways to edit your video after you’re finished recording (again, apps or software). Some of these concepts are so intertwined that it’s tough to talk about one without the other, but I’ve tried to break things up in a way that makes sense and can really show you my process for shooting videos. So let’s get started with filming methods first!
Filming Methods: Shooting Videos in Real Time vs. Sped Up
I’ll let you in on a little secret – I film all of my lettering videos on my iPhone and I very rarely edit them on my computer. Editing takes time, and unfortunately between my full-time job, duties as a mom, and trying to have a social life with my husband, friends and family, I don’t have a lot of spare time in my schedule. (Read more about how I landed my dream job in this post.) This means I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting my videos so that they need the least possible editing after I’m finished recording. Part of that process for me involves deciding whether I want my video to be shown in real time or sped up. This helps me determine which app I use to film my lettering. However, you don’t necessarily have to decide upfront if you’re willing to put in some additional work on the back-end of your video. You can always shoot everything in real time, then speed it up on your computer afterward if it needs to be sped up.
I always film landscape because that will give you the most flexibility with your video. When filming in real time, I just use the video feature on my iPhone. It doesn’t get any simpler than that – just press the red button to start recording, then press it again to stop when you’re finished.
If I want my video to be sped up, I use the Hyperlapse app by Instagram (free). I’ve also used the iPhone’s Time-Lapse video feature, but I don’t really like it as much because you have less control over the speed of the video. I’ve included some images below of the different options that Hyperlapse gives you once you’re finished filming. [Android users: here are 5 Hyperlapse Alternatives for you.]
Setting Up Your Video Space & Prepping for Filming
So now that you know which two apps I typically choose from for filming, it’s time to set up your video space and start prepping for filming. To figure out the best setup for your lettering video, you need to think about your goal for the video. Setting a goal that you want to accomplish with your video will play a large part in how you prepare for it and how you actually film it. I’ve included some common lettering video goals below and helpful tips on filming each type of video based on your goal for it.
Lettering Video Goal: Show a Technique
When you want to showcase a particular technique in your video, start by thinking about what someone needs to actually see to be able to replicate the technique. If you’re filming a video to showcase a technique, you’re basically teaching anyone watching the video how to do what you’re doing. So if you’re going to do blended lettering, you’ll want to actually show how to blend the colors. As you probably already know, Tombow brush pens are my go-to and they blend absolutely beautifully in so many different ways. One of the coolest ways that they blend is by rubbing two different colored tips together. To showcase this technique, I make sure that I’m filming myself actually rubbing the two tips together in the camera frame before I start to letter.
The technique you’re showing will help you determine whether you need to film close-up or more from a bird’s eye view. Some techniques can be filmed either way and still make sense to the viewer, so it’s up to you to decide which option works best for you. I like to keep technique videos fairly short – about 20 to 30 seconds – and focus on a single word or letter so that composition isn’t really a factor. Keeping the video short and what I’m lettering simple helps me to focus on my goal of showing the technique and teaching others how to do it for themselves.
Depending on the technique, I’ll practice it a couple of times before I film so that I’m warmed up and know what I’m doing. If I practice beforehand, I usually keep those practice pages next to me (but out of the camera frame) so that I can glance over at them to achieve a similar look. Technique videos can be shot in real time or sped up, depending on how long it takes to actually do the technique. You want to make sure whatever speed you use will give the viewer enough time to see what you’re doing. (It’s also super helpful to talk about the technique and the steps in your caption on Instagram.)
Lettering Video Goal: Show Your Process
Who doesn’t love a good process video? These are some of my favorite to watch and to film, but are also some of the most intimidating. If you haven’t already, when you go to film your first process video you’re probably going to feel a wave of anxiety and self doubt, thinking “But what if I mess up? What if I go through 30 sheets of paper and still everything is terrible?” Chances are it won’t take you 30 tries, but even if it does – go grab trusty page number 31 and do it again. You’ll be really warmed up by then at least! The great thing about filming lettering videos is that you’re not live – you can have as many outtakes as you need, and each of them serves the purpose of pushing you closer to a really awesome final piece.
My personal philosophy on shooting process videos is to keep it authentic. I sometimes sketch things out a bit before I start to film, but usually I start with a blank page and an idea in my head, and I see what happens. You’ll want to make sure you have your equipment setup to capture everything the viewer needs to see to get the full view of your process. You don’t want to be so zoomed in that they see the first word or two then your hand disappears from the camera for a few seconds while you continue to letter. You also don’t want to be too zoomed out to where the viewer can’t read what you’re writing. Take these things into account when you’re setting up your space to film. Most times process videos are sped up since creating a piece from start to finish typically takes longer than the maximum 1 minute that Instagram will allow you to post.
Lettering Video Goal: Show Your Tools
Sometimes the lettering is actually secondary to your video and the main goal is to really highlight the tools you’re using. I absolutely love seeing videos where you can see the flex of a brush pen or the tines of a dip pen separating on a heavy downstroke. It’s beautiful and mesmerizing to watch, and the lettering in these videos kind of takes a backseat. If you want to put the focus on your tools, you’re going to want to film really close up and from an angle. Since lettering and calligraphy requires you to hold your pen at a roughly 45 degree angle, you’ll want to position your camera in a spot where you can really see the nib of the pen as you’re writing. For righties, that’s going to be to the left of your hand – for lefties, it’s going to be to the right of your hand. Since you’re focusing on the tools and not your lettering, you’ll want to choose a simple word or just one letter. That helps keep the focus on the tools and not on the lettered artwork itself. I’ve found that real time speed is best for this type of lettering video.
Lettering Video Goal: Show Real Time Lettering
Although you can shoot any of the other types of lettering videos in real time, sometimes your main goal for shooting a lettering video is to show it in real time. In this case, you want to make sure whatever you’re lettering will be able to start and finish within Instagram’s 1 minute limit. That doesn’t necessarily mean your full piece has to take you 1 minute to create, but the real time part that you want to show should be able to completely live within that timeframe. My suggestion here is to either choose a single word, letter or handful of letters, or very short phrase if you want your video to start with a blank page and end with a lettered piece. If you have a larger piece and want to show a snippet of it in real time, I’d suggest choosing the last word or couple of words of your piece to letter on video. In this case, you’d do all the rest of your lettering beforehand then hit record just as you are lettering that last word or two, completing it within a minute so the last few frames of your video show the entire completed piece.
How to Edit Your Lettering Videos
I typically try to keep editing my videos to a minimum, mostly because I’d rather spend more time actually lettering or prepping to letter than editing (and because of the time constraints I mentioned earlier). Sometimes, for whatever reason, my phone will go rogue and film my lettering upside down or flipped at the wrong angle. When this happens, I just use the Rotate & Flip app to rotate the video so it’s oriented correctly. It’s a super straightforward app and literally just rotates or flips your video. [Android users: this app looks like it performs a similar function.]
I also like to use the Chromic app to lighten up my videos [Android users: these apps are supposed to be similar]. I try to get the best light possible with either natural light or my other lighting system, so that I don’t have to do too much editing afterward. Typically I just pull the brightness up and call it a day. This app gives you the option to overwrite the original or save a copy of the video, which is a nice feature. I typically overwrite the video because I don’t have the need for an unedited an an edited, but if you’re the kind of person that wants to have both versions, this is a feature worth noting.
On certain occasions I will edit my videos in iMovie – this is typically if I want to add music (which is rare) or if I need to splice together more than one video clip (which is also rare). iMovie also allows you to speed up or slow down your video and do some basic color corrections, so it’s really useful and user friendly for video editing, but it does take a bit more time because you have to pull the video from your phone, edit it, then save it and get it back on your phone in order for you to post. Most of the time those steps just aren’t worth it for me. If you’d like to see my process for editing videos in iMovie, let me know in the comments and I’ll create a separate post dedicated to that process.
And there you have it – now that you know how to capture your lettering on video, it’s time to get out there and start doing it! I’d love to see what you create! Be sure to tag me on Instagram @brittanyluiz so I can see!