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Unprepared Ep 1 - How To Create Content While You're Stuck At Home With Kurt Elster

Timestamps:

  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [01:06] - Opportunity to produce
  • [01:52] - Chase’s Unprepared setup
  • [02:30] - No excuse to use personal equipment
  • [03:09] - Kurt’s podcast setup
  • [04:15] - Suggested home office setups
  • [05:13] - Improving Zoom quality through better angles 
  • [05:37] - DIY lighting tips
  • [06:55] - Video editing solutions
  • [07:53] - Listing down the key takeaways
  • [09:13] - Just get started creating content
  • [11:06] - Invest in content creation now
  • [12:36] - Where to find Kurt

Resources:

Key Points:

  • Everyone being inside their homes is a great opportunity to start creating content and building an audience.

  • We may not realize it but we already have the equipment to produce content: Smartphones, tablets, gaming headsets, computers, etc.

  • The Shure SM58 is a cheap but very reliable microphone.

  • Al Roker from the Today Show is using his Iphone and AirPods to produce his content. If their network is good with what, you should also be good with your own equipment.

  • You can do a multi-camera setup using multiple Iphones or Ipads and the Filmic Pro app.

  • Camera angle tip #1: Point your camera lens on your forehead. This is the most flattering angle you will get and it will avoid people looking up at your nose.

  • DIY lighting tip #1: Place a white piece of paper of foil in front of you to create a bounce/fill light.

  • DIY lighting tip #2: If you have a book light or desk lamp, point it towards the wall in front of you. The wall softens the light and becomes a larger source to give the illusion of a bigger light source or a window.

  • For Mac users, iMovie is a free video editing software. If you want more options, you have Final Cut Pro. It is pricey but it’s between an iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro.

  • Camera angle tip #2: Film from above your eyes.

  • DIY lighting tip #3: If you only have one additional source of light (aside from your room light or windows) place it behind and to one side of your camera.

  • Now is the perfect opportunity to experiment with content.

  • Creating content can also be a fun activity for your housemates or your family if they would like to get involved.

  • Authentic and personal content is very much in demand right now and producing content using what you’ve got gives a very authentic and personal feel.

  • Creating personal content also creates personal connections which is very important for every business, especially during these times.

  • Invest in creating content during your personal time. Compared to investing in ads where your returns are limited by your budget, content will always give you returns once you’ve already put it out there.

Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

Press record on the video here. I'm just using my straight up camera from my phone.  What's the upgrade from doing the camera on the phone versus that "Filmatic" program he told me about? 

Kurt Elster  

Oh, Filmic?

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Kurt Elster  

Filmic... Slightly higher quality in terms of compression. A lot more fine tuned controls. But I think the most interesting thing about it is it just has... There's like a circle and a square on there. 

And so you can move it and say, "Okay, this is where you... This is where to check for exposure. This is where to check for focus." 

Chase Clymer  

You know what, let's just talk about that. Let's start the show. Let's talk about how to produce content from your bedroom.

Kurt Elster  

Okay. I like that. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. All right. Okay, Hey, everybody. This is Chase and Kurt is the first episode of Unprepared. [We] literally didn't have a topic until 2 seconds ago. So today we're going to talk about how to produce content in your house. 

I'm literally in my bedroom. It's a huge bedroom. So this side of it is my office. Kurt has a home office that he stole from his wife. Lucky him. But yeah, let's talk about producing content today.

Kurt Elster  

Sure. So what is so amazing right now is we're all trapped in our houses. If you're lucky enough to be an entrepreneur and in a position where you could start creating content at home to build an audience. That seems to be the magic. 

Because everyone is isolated. We're all together alone. And I think at the same time, we pretty much all own smartphones, we all own tablets, many people own a digital camera. 

If you have a gaming headset, you probably have more AV equipment than you realize to produce great quality stuff in your house.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So I'll let everyone know my setup. I've got my podcasting stuff which is just an SM58. I think it's $80. You can find them used when you can leave your house. Yeah.

Kurt Elster  

I got a pair of them held up. Wait... Wait... Yes!

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. You can hammer a nail in with that thing. Back in the touring days, they were insane. Very, very well done. 

Anyway, so I have that for the podcast but you actually don't need it. iPads have some pretty decent quality. Not iPads but AirPods have a decent quality microphone. 

Kurt Elster  

I was... The first week of the Today Show Al Roker [was] recording from home... My wife and toddler busted in on me. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Kurt Elster  

Oh they stole them in-ears. Al Roker is recording from home and you could tell it was probably an iPhone and AirPods. That was his setup for a major network television show. So if Al Roker gets away with that, guess what, so do you.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And then honestly, if you have the luxury of having 2 devices in your house, i.e. if you have 2 iPhones, the iPhone audio is actually insanely good. 

And you can just do a voice memo near you to get better audio and then just sync it with your iPhone. Anyways, I'm recording in selfie mode on my iPhone right now. That's this video camera for me. And we're gonna...

Kurt Elster  

So I grabbed a Micro Four Thirds camera and I have it on this cheap, ancient tripod. I bought it at Best Buy probably 12 years ago and it's great. And this Micro Four Thirds camera to Panasonic Lumix I bought about 6 weeks ago on eBay. And I paid $200 for it which... Alright, so I had to spend some cash on it. But the quality is pretty good. 

But alright, get this. So for my show, I interviewed a guy who does... He was formerly a high school teacher who taught film, and they needed access for everybody to have cameras and so they started using mobile devices and he turned this into an entire business called iOgrapher

He's got a lot of great content you could check out from like making amazing videos just using an iPad or an iPhone, and iOgrapher. There's a free plug for him. There we go and we... Sorry, I'm gonna abuse some sound effects here today. 

But he turned me on to this app. So if you've already got the phone, you could spend 10 bucks on this app called Filmic Pro. And let's say you've got multiple devices. This is where this thing gets really cool. You can have a... Let's say you've got a tablet --and granted I don't own a tablet-- But we've got two tablets for the kids so I can steal those.

 I can steal my wife's phone. I got my phone and I got an old phone. Okay, that means I now have a 5 camera setup. You put Filmic Pro on all of them. Not that you would use a 5 camera setup but you put Filmic Pro on everything. 

And then on one of the tablets, it lets you see all your camera views at once and you could leave it like the same way you would record sports. But this is all with the stuff you probably already... Maybe if you have kids. Kids already have --in your house-- all these multiple devices. 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Kurt Elster  

So, it's interesting, I think we all got turned into a little bit of a MacGyver situation. It's been interesting to see people's home office setups. 

Alright, everyone's using Zoom now. So how do you get better Zoom quality? Well, put your... Stack your laptop up so you get that webcam so it's like right over your head. You don't want that thing where everybody's looking up your nose. 

Chase Clymer  

That's an old school photography [tip]. They teach you that in photography class. It's essentially... [If] you want to take any portrait or if you want something good, you want it... You want the camera lens to be like the middle of the forehead, because then it gets rid of that sexy under chin stuff.

Kurt Elster  

(laughs) And I just don't want to be looking at people's noses. But yes, angles are very important. Lighting is important. If you want the easiest trick in the world. Put a white piece of paper on the desk in front of you, it'll help create a bounce and fill light. I have not done this. 

But the other day for a while I had aluminum foil on my desk as an attempt to build a reflector. Yeah, I should grab a piece of paper

Chase Clymer  

I've got a big overhead book light that I should use for reading but it's like bouncing off the wall. So doing that... If you can bounce a light off a wall that creates a way bigger light source, which is more like a window style, big light source. You don't want small light sources because then they're [creating] harsh shadows.

Kurt Elster  

Yes. I did this for my wife over the weekend. She had an idea for a video. And it was in her basement which does like a... Basements, naturally, do not have the best lighting. 

So I grabbed this halogen work light out of my garage, and then I just aimed it at the wall opposite her and then that way the wall itself becomes your light. 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Kurt Elster  

So you got this very big, huge soft light source then but it's just a work line I had.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So let's break this down to some real key takeaways before I let you go today. So first and foremost, just use what you got, right? You got to put out...

Kurt Elster  

Look around. Anything that has a camera or can record video or audio, you can use. So you can do some clever multi-camera setups like I used... I had a DSLR, my phone, and this little point-and-shoot camera. 

I used all 3 of those to record a 10 minute cooking video in our kitchen and then just edited that together myself in iMovie. Which is if you're on a Mac, iMovie is free.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Yeah, I love iMovie. Now I'm just confusing myself with Premiere.

Kurt Elster  

I couldn't get I could not wrap my head around Premier, though it's never a better time to watch some YouTube videos and figure it out. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Kurt Elster  

But if you master iMovie and you feel limited, you could move up to Final Cut. It's $300, which is pricey. It took me a long time to get comfortable with paying $300 for it. But really good in that it's very similar to iMovie but with a whole bunch of pro features. 

It's prosumer. It's between iMovie and Premiere.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Alright, so use what you got. And then the next thing is --this is probably one of the bigger ones-- which is a film from above your eyes. That's gonna make a way better look, a way better shot for any of your stuff, any of [the] takes of your cameras. That's why this thing is on a tripod behind my computer. 

If you want to see my actual setup, I put it on Twitter just a few minutes ago and it's pretty hilarious. And then the last takeaway, I think, was if you can afford it, that Filmic app is pretty dope.

Kurt Elster  

Filmic Pro. Yeah. That's really, really sweet. You're still recording on your phone, but you get a little better quality and a lot more granular controls on it. So much more like filming with a traditional video camera. And then the last point is the lighting. Oh my gosh.

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah.

Kurt Elster  

Look for any light source you've got. But let's say you just have one. Let's say it's just a light. And it's for your Zoom videos. That's like most of the videos we're doing now. 

So you've got your camera above your eyes. Alright, nailed it. Then the light source, put it behind and just to one side of that webcam. That's what I got going on right now. 

And that plus I got the light from the window. That helps. And then put like a white t-shirt or a white piece of paper on the desk in front of you to try and get a little bit of fill light in here.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. You know what I think there's actually one thing we glossed over that is more important than all this which is just get started.

Kurt Elster  

Oh my god, just do it. There's never been a better time to create content and experiment, especially if you're making it... If you have free time or you're bored or... My wife runs a travel blog. Well, man, traffic's... Wait, now a lot of people are planning vacations right now. 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Kurt Elster  

So yeah, that sucks. But for her, she also thought "Alright, that this is a good time to start experimenting with formats in content and ideas." So we made --for her travel show or for her travel vlogs-- we made a cooking video in our kitchen. 

And you know what, that was also our date night. It was a really fun thing to do together. So if you can involve your family and they want to do it, --your housemates-- it can be a good activity.

Chase Clymer  

I think that's it. I've been trying to get back into video and this was forcing me to do it. Every business is suffering right now. And I think that the thing that you can control is how much content you can put out. That's something that is 100% in your control. So just start creating it.

Kurt Elster  

Yes. And I think in creating even personal content, that's going to work across all channels right now. People want authenticity more than ever. So you've got... 

Like you said, we've got Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are recording huge television shows out of their houses and getting interrupted by their dog and their kids. You can be authentic, you can be raw, it can be real, and it will be better for it.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I mean, that translates over to even how content works on Facebook advertising. The more authentic it is, usually, the better return you see.

Kurt Elster  

Oh yeah. 100%. So then once you start building that content that is going to pay dividends over the next year or longer. As you've got the content, [it] naturally creates organic search for you. So you're gonna be able to drive more traffic, you're gonna get more impressions, people are going to get a better sense of who you are with authentic content. 

You're going to start creating personal connections with people. And then like now more than ever, I am so excited just to get a phone call. I am energized. I'm an extrovert. This is hard. So I'm energized by being able to do video calls with people. 

And some of these tips to increase their quality certainly make things a lot more fun. But there is... I don't think there's any wrong way right now to go about content creation, so long as it is empathetic, sensitive, and authentic. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.  Yeah.

Kurt Elster  

Anything that falls in that and you made the slightest attempt at quality, you will get a pass on the quality. Just get out there and make it. Oh my gosh, just get started.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, absolutely. And then I just want to reiterate the point you said on content paying dividends in this next year. I think that content is the best investment you can make with your personal time because it's going to return forever. That piece of content is always out there, that piece of content is always going to be around. Whereas if you put that same energy into --or investment-- into say an ad, once that budget is gone, that traffic's gone.

Kurt Elster  

Yeah yeah. 100%. You're absolutely right.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Hey, Kurt, thank you so much for being the inaugural guest on not only this, but my podcast as well. If you like Kurt, go check out his podcast: The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter. 

He's got a great Facebook group as well. The Unofficial Shopify Facebook Group. What else did I forget to talk about?

Kurt Elster  

(laughs) If you want to get in touch with me, Twitter is a good place to do it. @kurtinc. Or Google me. Go to kurtelster.com. Sign up for my newsletter

Any of those emails come from my actual email address. So if you reply to it with a thoughtful question, I will send you a thoughtful answer.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you so much.

Kurt Elster  

My pleasure. Talk soon. 

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A few weeks ago the world changed forever. Every business, every entrepreneur, every single person was unprepared for the sudden change we'd all experience. I'm going to use this time to create content focused on what you can do right now to help your business grow. We're all in this together, we're all unprepared.