So, I’ve had the pleasure to sit down with the one and only Philip Hartshorn. Phil is content creator, influencer, filmmaker and movement expert. Phil is passionate about what he does. You’ll often find him doing short films that impart positive images. He has worked with various individuals in his filmmaking career, including Gary Vaynerchuk, Bo Eason, Melissa McCallister and Mindy Lawhorne.
Obviously, Phil is a busy man and it’s awesome to be able to have this one-on-one vlogging meeting with him. I, for one, have a lot to learn from this brilliant guy.
Actually Philip is my videographer and everything that we do on this channel, he is behind the camera. We’re here in London right now and we’ve been shooting some epic stuff, but for the next couple days Philip’s going back home. I’m gonna be by myself and so I wanted to have you on the channel to give us some tips on what do you do if you’re not a trained filmmaker.
Think of Art, Science, and Aesthetics
Philip is an expert in film, and he believes that a good blog needs three things: art, science and aesthetics. You want to come at things from an artistic angle from like a cinematography angle. Without such an angle, you notice the difference, especially among a lot of people who are filming or vlogging. There’s just no art to it, there’s no science and it doesn’t look very aesthetic.
Now the way we get around this is we kind of apply the film side to it. There are very simple stuff that you can do even with your phone in a dark room. The mentality of no matter what you have to work with making the best of it.
On Creating Quality Work
So, Philip’s YouTube channel features a lot of fight scenes like those you see in the movies. And he thinks that every scene needs to be good so that it’s jarring to the audience. For instance, if it’s lit strangely, people might think you’re trying to be suspenseful, and that’s not the kind of message you want to get across to your audience.
“So you don’t want to give off a suspenseful feeling or like a horror vibe when you’re doing a vlog, right? Because that would turn people off. You can deal with a few simple things to create quality vlogs, starting off with lighting.”
Get the lighting right
Lighting is usually key so it’s an audio-visual component. And as they say, the eyes are the window to the soul. So you want to make sure there’s light hitting your eyes. You’ll see you have great lighting if you see the little reflection that happens in someone’s eyes. When the lights hit the eyes, the eyes twinkle. If you look for that, make sure that’s happening, it’s a pretty good indicator or a good test to know it’s (the video) is gonna be good.
Another thing about lighting that Philip wanted to emphasize is that you should face the source of lighting, not have your back towards it. You want to get that light on your face. “The reason you want to do that is because a lot of our phones have an auto ISO or auto exposure, in layman’s terms. So what they do is they’re actually picking up the light behind you, such as from a bright window, and they’re thinking they’re exposing the camera to that,” Phil explains.
So what happens is, your face gets super dark. You want to expose it to your face. The cameras really aren’t smart enough to do that on your phone. Sometimes they are in the new ones but the way to go around that is just make sure you’re facing the window so you are the focal point for the camera to focus on.
Have the right angle
Angle is another important thing you have to consider when vlogging. See, when you go down you tend to get these kind of weird angles, plus, you’re sporting that extra chin unnecessarily.
And film is all science, so what is this angle telling people? It’s like we’re domineering, kind of looking down on your subjects. It’s not a nice feeling. Putting the angle high is okay, but it also depends. If you had a higher window you could always do that. And this is also kind of inviting, it’s like, hey, it’s a nice happy angle. Again, if the audience is above you they don’t feel threatened.
But the best is putting the angle at eye level. It doesn’t make the audience feel put off. It is also very conversational like you would have a conversation with somebody, you’re not looking down at them — it’s just right in their eye.
The Rule of Thirds
Philip then goes about the rule of thirds, a very simple angling idea that can make a profound impact on your shot. So this is all about aesthetics. Consider creating imaginary grids on your frame, and then putting yourself at one of the grids and the rest will showcase the background.
So when you use the rule of thirds and have excellent lighting, you’ll notice how alive you look because of the twinkle in your eyes. “And the eyes are the windows to the soul. Especially since in vlogging, you’re trying to share somebody a piece of your life with someone, and you want to create that trust connection.
As for me who has a background with acting, I always learned that I need to look at that camera like it’s my best friend. That I’m talking to one person, and to make eye contact, not with myself on the screen. We all like to look at ourselves, but literally right there in that camera, I’m talking to a friend of mine.
Self-vlogging with two cameras
I also asked Philip about my vlogging while traveling alone.
So, I’m going to Scotland for the next couple days and I have my phone and I have another external camera. What can I do to maximize having two cameras when I’m by myself?
Philip goes into film theory again, explaining that it can be cool to have two cameras for vlogging. “You want to utilize the idea of a wide shot, or sort of an establishing shot that shows the entire scene. and then the idea of a closer shot that can kind of bring more human connection, a little bit more drama to it, or whatever you’re going for.
So what we like to do is, phones tend to be quite wide and you can always zoom in, but they’re wide so we can do selfies and stuff. what I would do is I would place one camera farther to capture a wide shot. This shot will establish your background or setting. You may even place it at a location where it can get maximum lighting.
And then, you get the second camera and use it to capture close up shots, like a nice three-quarter shot. With this set-up, you can edit your video with two angles and switch between two frames to get a nice establishing and close-up shot.
Another cool trick is to place the camera on the ground so it captures a wonderful vista shot of your background. “And then you could actually cut back and forth and just that alone, having the option to cut back and forth, gives just such a different feel, sort of a professional, cinematic feel to it.”
The B Roll
The B Roll technique is another great way to get your audience hooked to your video. B Roll refers to any supplemental videos or images that support your primary video.
“So let’s say I’m done talking to the camera. I’ve made my point. But what you do so well for me is when I get the finished edit back, I’m almost like a kid at Christmas because it’s all these cutaways that I don’t even know that Philip shot. Those shots are what we consider the B roll, which help enhance your message.
Philip explains that what he does with my videos is that he begins with a standard shot of me being in the frame, or with the wider angle of the full palace behind me.
As we are filming, Philip makes it a point to listen and make mental notes in his head. He is mentally editing, saying, “What would I want right here?”
“Oh, let’s show the flag which actually shows that the Queen is there, as we were told earlier today. If the flag is flying, the Queen is in residence at the palace, so, okay, I got a couple shots of the flag. You also talked about the grandeur, so let me show off some of the art, the intricacy, so I got some closeups of the gate, the beautiful design and the bronzework. We got a shot of the obelisk with the lions and all the statues.
As far as taking B roll is concerned, it’s often easier to do it after because you know what you’ve talked about. It’s important to take note of what has been said in the video so you can take the B roll right after. Plus, you can use some of them as establishing shot as well.
Setting the scene
Setting the scene is another thing every vlogger needs to learn. Sometimes you can start a vlog and the first thing they see is you, but sometimes it’s also nice to set a setting like they do in a movie.
Philip says that the best way to do this is just “start to think more filmically. Next time you watch a movie, or watch your favorite movie, analyze it a little bit. How did they start my favorite scene?
You can kind of start with less information for the audience. If I start on a closeup of Jimmy’s face and he looks upset. That would bring less information for the audience, right? He looks very upset, what’s going on here? I need more answers.
It’s asking a question: why is he upset? If we start with a wide shot, you see Jimmy looks upset and I’m dead with a knife in my chest, you know something happened.
Either he killed Philip, because he screwed up a film job, or you know, maybe he discovered him. He’s upset, so again, it’s conveying information to the audience. How do you want to do that? What mood do you want to set? And these are the things by kind of watching your favorite movies, you’ll see the director’s choice. Why did he show Jimmy’s face first, or the wide shot?
“So, if you noticed when we were leaving Buckingham today, ‘I said, oh, what am I doing? I need the full shot of the whole.’”
Let me walk back for a second, in front of the gate, and I got that grand shot so we can use probably near the beginning when he says, “We’re here at Buckingham Palace.” Boom, the grand shot. So for that, I don’t wanna confuse the audience, I want them to see Buckingham.
And what’s great about Phil’s tips is that you can take any one of these, and you don’t have to be an expert filmmaker like Phil. What’s gonna set you apart when filming your own vlogs besides those people that are just doing this and nothing else with bad lighting. So Philip, as always, we always do epic work together.
If you want to find Phil, check him out and what he does, you can find him on YouTube. “That’s my biggest platform, and we do everything from martial arts to art and filmmaking and everything, and that’s just my name or thePhilip.
So, thank you guys for watching, make sure to subscribe and share this. Make sure to subscribe to Philip’s channel as well, and we’ll talk to you next time.”