Just because the root words of “vlog” is “video” and “blog”, that doesn’t mean that vlogging shares any of its fundamental principles with either of those media.

Since blogs are not mainstream media content, they conform to an entirely different set of standards than print media. Well, the same is true of video blogs: they’re not made-for-TV clips, and are governed by entirely different rules of quality.

A couple of weeks ago, I went over hardware and software basics for video blogging. My point was that you don’t need fancy euipment to video blog: any camera and some free software will do fine. Well, Dave Starr brought up an important point with the following comment:

One thing not mentioned here is, to my mind, the most difficult hurdle of all … and it can’t be solved with a piece of software.
[…]
Your video production must have a reason to be a video. So much of what I see being promoted as “video blogs” are just what the TV industry calls “talking heads”. If you watch TV … and most of us do … just watch something as mundane as the local news and notice that the camera never stays fixed on the “talent’s head” for more than few seconds at a time. Even if the commentator keeps talking, the view cuts away to the scene being talked about, people involved, even a map of the area, then comes back to the speaker only breifly …. and then on to something else.

Do _not_ just sit in front of a camera and talk … it will fall flat … because your viewers expect to see more than your face.

What Dave fails to appreciate is that anchormen have to conform to standards of objective journalism and are, therefore, chronically dry in their delivery. If we didn’t have the stock footage to break it up, we’d fall asleep before the next commercial break.

Where video blogging is different, is that (1) a video blogger can express themselves however they want, and (2) vlog posts should be short and sweet, so you have less time to lose your audience’s interest. The point is that just as video blogs aren’t television spots, vlogger and television producer are not the same job.

Take vlogger extraordinaire, Loren Feldman. He’s a talking head par excellence, and still gets more views than the History Channel online. Now consider what he said a couple of weeks ago:

99% of what I do is shot with the built in camera in a Mac. The other 1% is shot with bulls**t, consumer grade, you know, cameras — Casios. It doesn’t matter what cameras, it doesn’t matter what computer, […] because the truth of the matter is that it’s not the equipment, it’s the athelete.

You know what I’m saying? That’s the problem with all these tech guys: they have all this equipment, and they think that they can tell a story.

Editing is a f**king art. Acting is a f**king art. Shooting is a f**king art. Um, and quite frankly, none of you guys have it unless you went to f**king film school, or acting school, or any of that stuff. It’s obvious.

I mean, look at Scoble: he’s got all this HD stuff, and blah, blah, blah… He can’t frame, he can’t do f**king anything, and it’s like that with most of you guys: you just don’t have talent. And it’s not going to matter what film you use, you undestand what I’m saying? It doesn’t matter what camera. That’s it. [,,,] I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Now, Loren talks about editing and shooting, but his own repetoire of clips are pretty straight forward: an irate, bald, talking head gives you the low down on whatever. It’s his delivery that makes him what he is. He frames his shots so that they capture the his mood, and edits out all the superfluous ranting so that the clip cuts straight to the point.

The motion and emotion are all done with his face and tone. In other words, Loren appreciates the importance of showmanship, and that’s what video blogging is all about: showmanship.

Just because the root words of vlog is video and blog, that doesn’t mean that vlogging shares any of its fundamental principles with either of those media. To be a successful vlogger, you have to be a showman and create a spectacle, but you don’t do that by conforming to the standards of mainstream media video. You do it by having a personality.

You see, just like written blogs, the vast majority of video blogs suck. While poorly written blog can still enjoy SEO benefits because the search engines keep coming back to index the keyword intensive (albeit poorly written) content that’s updated regularly, a poorly produced video blog might not even show up in search engines’ video verticals. After all, the meta-info that you append to your clips are appended by the video host of your choice. So when people conduct searches for video on topics that you’ve vlogged about, it’s your YouTube or Blip.tv page that they’re going to find.

If you want to benefit from video blogging, then, you’ll have to be talented and interesting.