Why I love creating micro-films for Instagram TV - plus my top tips
Some months ago I wrote a blog post about why I loved creating mini-films for Instagram Stories.
This joy continued over the coming weeks and months and I've created a lot of mini-films set to music for Instagram. Each time I created one, however, I would have to chop it up into individual 15 second clips so they didn't get cut off in the Stories format.
Then Instagram TV launched last week. Or, IGTV. And I love it.
No more chopping the micro-films up into 15 second portions. I can just create a film however long it needs to be and upload it in its entirety onto this new platform.
I know for some people it's another time suck. I know for some it's overwhelming having all this content to watch on Instagram. And there are a number of issues with the format (such as videos playing immediately you open the app - can't say I'm keen on that). And I'm struggling to discover new people to watch that I don't already follow through knowing their main Instagram feed - other than the popular ones that Instagram is throwing my way (who is Casey Simpson anyway?!) However, it is early days and I'm sure it will evolve and grow.
For me it is an absolute creative joy.
Sometimes my day is a bit meh. Or, I'll feel creatively stuck. Or I'm just over-awed with the sheer beauty out there. So I'll pick up my iPhone and go and film some of the beautiful things happening right outside my back door.
It could be a close-up of a bee. I could accidentally film a butterfly which I can then slow right down in the edit so you can see its beauty in flight. I love showing the ducks' joy as they welcome each day. Or the way a chicken will flap her wings. If you slow it down, again either filming in slo-mo or in the edit, you can see how her feet are lifted off the ground as she flaps. Then there are the changes in the seasons. When the apples start growing on the tree. When the leaves start to fall. I love these details and enjoy filming them.
I know for some that creating films is a bit daunting. Believe me I never thought I'd be mastering this skill. I remember my husband playing with iMovie after we went to the 2012 Olympics and thinking 'I'd never be able to do that'.
The thing is you can read about doing it and you can think about doing it. But there's only so much knowledge you can consume. Eventually you need to just film and practice. And that's how you learn and that's how you get better.
TIPS FOR CREATING FILMS FOR IGTV
Firstly let me say this. IGTV is not compulsory. If you're feeling like you're spreading yourself too thinly online, if you're only doing it because of fear of missing out, and you feel you ought to be doing it because you've been told to, ignore the 'rules'.
However, if you'd like to stretch yourself and learn a new skill, if you'd like to create something different, if the thought of making films excites you yet makes you anxious because you don't know where to start - then read on for my tips. (I must stress these are tips and not rules!)
- Tell us a story. What has happened in a specific period of time (say during a walk or through creating your Instagram photograph) or through undertaking a specific project over a number of days. Set the scene. Tell the viewer what is happening. This doesn't have to be verbal. I sometimes have me opening the back door or gate to show it's the start of the day.
- You can film on your iPhone or android, or with a proper camera. To edit the footage you can import to software on your computer or you can use an app on your phone. I use my iPhone 7 Plus to film (or my Canon G7x occasionally) and export to my laptop to edit in iMovie. I started doing this before the apps were available and now I find it a quick and easy way. You might prefer an app on your phone. Experiment.
- When I'm filming I don't make my clips too long. This gives me chance to identify each one in the editing process (without wading through minutes and minutes of footage) and also, when I edit my films I make each scene not much longer than five seconds (if that). Obviously the latter is personal preference but for quickly scanning though your footage the stop/start filming button is your friend! (And also, make sure each time you've definitely pressed it. I've recorded a scene only to realise I wasn't actually recording!)
- Don't have the music playing too loud in your finished film. In iMovie I never have the music more than 30% so that it doesn't blast people when they watch and you can still hear the birdsong, chicks cheeping, ducks quacking etc.
- Keep your camera steady whilst filming. If you do move it do it slowly. You don't want to give the viewer whiplash! If filming a moving an animal (for example) keep the camera still and allow the animal to walk across the screen.
- Use basic equipment to prop your phone up to get different angles. I use bricks, upside down flower pots, as well as my mini tripod and banana pod and an iPhone holder. Look upwards, downwards, close-ups and distance. When you edit contrast the close-ups with distance and vice versa.
- Prop your phone so it films you as you go about your tasks. (Make sure it's secure!)
- Make use of the slo-mo and timelapse on your iphone camera. If using timelapse keep your phone totally still (it's best in a holder though sometimes I can get away with it by filming with my hands and phone tight to my body!)
- When editing to music listen to the tiny changes in the music and change scenes during one of these changes.
- Think about subscribing to a music subscription service so you don't have the same music as everyone else. Flicking through IGTV I found three people all had the same music on the same day... I personally use soundstripe. If you decide to invest in this then I have a 10% coupon code - use 'HELENREDFERN' at this link to soundstripe. (Yes, this is an affiliate link which, if you use, will give me a few pennies at no cost to you.)
- Chat to camera and explain what you're doing. You don't always have to have your face on screen. In the edit you can layer film clips over the top.
- As in writing keep the story moving. Don't linger too long on certain clips just because you like it. "Killing your darlings" is a phrase used in fiction writing and will help keep your story tight and constantly moving.
- See this as another creative outlet. Do it because you want to, because you want to tell your stories. Don't do it because you feel you have to.
OTHER HELPFUL SOURCES
My YouTube video (below left) on how I create my films for Instagram stories could be useful if you want to film using your iPhone and iMovie. (And to see how I add the music.)
This film with Peter McKinnon and Jesse Driftwood is how I started (below right).
Twins that Travel have published a great post about the apps you can use to create films on your phone.
Xanthe Berkeley has brilliant courses on making films (and is how I learned).
VidClips is an app recommended by Xanthe Berkeley and is one I'm just starting to experiment with.
I'm now going to embed some of the mini-films I've already created for IGTV: