Every type of class has its own unique attributes and style. A Business class may use slides to emphasize key concepts and a Music class may use screencasting to give a walkthrough of a new recording software. What you’re teaching requires a different setup or style to properly demonstrate the skills you want students to learn.
We noticed that Crafts classes are on the up and up, so we compiled a few best practices to ensure that you are recording the best, most accessible class you can.
A basic toolkit for filming
A Crafts class is mostly a physical demonstration, showing students how to complete a specific project or master a new technique by watching the step-by-step process unfold. To capture your physical demonstration, you’ll need a few tools.
You can use any camera you have on hand, whether it’s an iPhone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR. You may even be able to finagle your webcam to capture your physical demonstration, but we recommend something a bit more flexible so that you can get the close up shots you’ll need.
If you don’t have any equipment of your own, try renting a camera from a site like Lumoid or asking a friend to borrow their gear for a day to record.
Having a tripod will help you get steady shots and achieve some of our recommended techniques below. Professional photographers and videographers may splurge on tripods, but you don’t need anything fancy. You can purchase an inexpensive one like this.
We always think that natural light looks the best, especially for any talking head shots, so if possible use a sunny room in your home or office for filming. But sometimes natural light is too soft or dim for your physical demonstrations. In this case, it is totally fine to use a light source to brighten up your shots. Just be sure to keep your shots balanced and try to avoid harsh shadows. We recommend using a paper lantern with a daylight bulb to get the natural light effect.
Simple filming techniques
It’s important to demonstrate the exact steps and techniques students need to replicate to get the desired end result. That means you need to capture clear and close up shots. You don’t need to use two cameras to get this effect (though if you have two to use, no harm there). Simply incorporate these techniques for an engaging presentation.
Get a bird’s eye view
This is a popular technique found in many Crafts classes. Setting up this view not only allows students to clearly see the demonstration, but it allows you as the teacher to use both hands to complete your project. This is where a tripod comes in hand. To use this technique, all you need to do is place two legs of the tripod on the table or surface you’re working on and one leg on the floor. This will give you stability and space to use the surface. You can also try a technique like this.
It may take a few tries to get this setup to work just right. Some tripods may not extend enough and some may not allow you to bend your camera down to a 90 degree angle. A slightly angled shot works just fine, but if you want an overhead aerial view, you can hack together a custom tripod. We’ve found that using a microphone stand with a camera attachment gives you more swing so that your camera can hang directly above you.
If you’re using a smartphone as your camera, you can use a tabletop tripod like this and balance it on your chest to get the same effect, like fellow teacher Leitha does for her videos. But if you’re not comfortable with a balancing act, there are other affordable tools you can use to capture a bird’s eye view, like a Steady Stand or a flexible desktop stand.
Check out these classes to see what this effect looks in action:
Take photos of your project steps
Throughout filming, in between takes, snap a few photos or beauty shots, if you will. You can use these photos as cover images for your video lessons, marketing collateral for social media, and more importantly in the video lesson itself to show a sharp close up. This is a great technique if you need to show students very fine details of your project.
Check out this class example to see how you can incorporate still photos into your class: Introduction to Quilling: Quill Your Name from Beginning to End
A few best practices to make production easier
Now that you are equipped with your gear and production techniques, here are some tactics that will make recording (and editing!) a whole lot easier.
Have your project prepared in stages
You’ll save a lot time and headaches on film day if you can have different stages of your project complete. For example, if you’re teaching a class on knitting a shirt, have 4-5 shirts developed along the different steps. Or if you’re teaching a cake decorating class, have the cake already baked before filming. This production hack, allows you to focus on the core techniques and not have to wait around or complete a step to move forward with recording. This will allow you to record your entire class in just a few hours.
Film your class in sections
You’ve already outlined your class into a series of video lessons, so why not film based on those segments? Taking breaks in between your video lessons allows you to collect your thoughts and run through your talking points. Plus, it will make editing easier because you’ll be able to see your specific video lessons, without having to scrub through hours of footage to cut and splice.
Record your voiceover after you film the project steps
Since you’re mostly filming a physical demonstration, you don’t necessarily need to record your voiceover at the same time. Instead, you can first record your physical demo and then record the audio narration afterwards.
This allows you to focus on the actual demonstration, without getting tongue tied. You can then effortlessly reference your bulleted list of talking points as you’re recording the audio. Plus, you don’t need to worry about microphones because you can use a pair of Apple headphones to record clear audio.
Separating the video from the audio also gives you some post-production flexibility. For example, if you decide you want to speed up a section of your class, you can easily do so without losing the narration.
Teaching tactics to help students learn
Filming isn’t just about production tips and tricks. It’s important to remember who the audience is and who is consuming your videos: your students! Having clear visuals and audio will help students pay attention, but there are a couple of tactics to employ to help students retain information.
Slow and steady
Allow students to observe and absorb what you’re instructing. It’s easy to get caught up in your own expertise and run through a demonstration at the speed with which you are comfortable. But remember, many students will be learning this technique for the first time, so it’s important to slow it down and allow them to understand how it works.
If you’ve already recorded your class but realize it may be a bit too fast, you can easily slow down the playback speed (that’s why separating the audio helps!).
Check out this class for a great example of a teacher slowing it down to give students a chance to fully understand the technique: What's Up with Knitting: Make Your Own Clutch
Reinforce important steps with graphics or text
If there’s an important step of the process that is crucial to students’ success, emphasize that step by using on-screen graphics, text or slides. Hearing the step coupled with text or a visual will help students retain the information.
Check out this class for a great example of incorporating text and other visual elements in your videos: Intro To Sewing: Custom Leather + Canvas Tote Bag And Machine 101
Go forth and film!
These are just a few things to consider as you prepare to film your Crafts class. If you have questions or discover a new best practice of your own, head to our Teacher Center to ask and share! We’re so excited to see what you create.