Professional equipment

I saw a video which was shot simultaneously with an iPhone 7 and a RED Weapon. On my laptop screen there was almost no visible difference between the two. One is a 1000$ smartphone and the other a 50 000$ professional movie camera.

Does this mean the iPhone is as good as the RED camera? Sort of, but only if the conditions are perfect. Shooting great photos and videos with a smartphone is possible when the light is good and plentiful, when the weather is nice and most importantly, you know what you are doing.

The difference between amateur and professional equipment becomes apparent when the conditions go from optimal to less than optimal. A large sensor will let in more light when it’s dark without adding noise to the image. Professional cameras and lenses are often waterproof or at least water resistant. They offer more fine tuned settings to suit every situation.

P.S. Maybe you’re not a camera guy so here’s a car reference: a muscle car can match a Ferrari in a drag race but what happens when there’s a corner?

On limitations

Some limitations are actually very useful. They push us to do better with less and get more creative. Comedians who can’t curse on the airwaves have to work around it. Old school demos are all about pushing against very limited hardware. Limitations also offer a safe harbor for excuses when we fail at our goals.

Of course many limitations are just that, limitations. The original 10 minute limit on YouTube didn’t make anything better (people just uploaded several videos). Nor did the 56k modem make early browsing any more enjoyable compared to cable modems.

Next time you blame a limitation for failing, make sure it’s an actual limitation and not an excuse.

Prioritize ideas, not value

Your website doesn’t look good enough so you won’t launch. Your DSLR doesn’t do 4k so you won’t film. Your X isn’t Y so you won’t do Z.

YouTube is full of corporate promotion videos which cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to produce. They all look great, professional. And almost all of them have hits in the hundreds, not millions.

Why and what you create is much more important than how you create it. I’m not saying production value doesn’t matter, I’m saying it comes with time.

Make a choice – don’t browse

How many hours do you spend just browsing something? Clicking from one YouTube video to another, going through podcasts, picking out something on Netflix only to go back to the menu to watch something else. Having choice is great but control over media has turned us into picky, fidgety consumers. I’m absolutely guilty of doing this myself.

Here’s my advice: make a decision and then stick with it. Watch the whole movie from beginning to end even if it isn’t that great five minutes in. For added difficulty, put your phone in the other room so you don’t play with it during the film.

Sticking to a decision will relieve you from the stress of trying to “maximize” the enjoyment by finding the perfect thing to consume. Being mindful over your experience and not playing with your phone constantly relaxes your brain much like meditation does. Yesterday, I watched Blade Runner in its entirety without a single break and felt damn near enlightened.

 

P.S. I wrote about why I love watching TV a while ago. If you liked this post, you might want to read it also.

 

“Just right”

Most people who describe themselves as perfectionists are often just scared. They don’t want to start doing something they know they should be doing, because “they want to get it just right” the first time. Almost nobody who is anybody gets it right the first time. We used to only see the latest work from a master, from someone who has made it in their field. We rarely see what some great painter’s first attempts at painting looked like or what some composer’s music was at fifteen.  Until now.

The great thing about the Internet is that it goes waaaaay back. Way way way back. While your first website might be gone, social media that has survived (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook) has kept a record of your life and work for years. This fall, my Facebook account will be 10 years old. I didn’t start using Instagram until 2014, but comparing my photos from then and now, the difference is like night and day.

Here’s an exercise: go on YouTube and look through your subscriptions. Find the biggest names (or the most important) and go to their “Videos” page. Sort by “Date added (oldest)”. Provided they haven’t removed their old videos, they’re bound to suck. Here’s the first video from 22 million subscriber channel “Smosh”.

Don’t be a perfectionist. Start today. Document your journey.

Same bat time, same bat channel

I love watching TV. It frees me from the stress of choosing what to watch and when to watch it. Whatever is on, is on right now, there’s no pausing it and there’s no rewinding. Besides flipping through maybe 10 or so different channels, there are no other choices to be made. Online you either curate what you watch or have an algorithm do it for you. With TV, every channel is curated by someone else. Your task is only to choose which does it the best.

Logout & test

This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, more than once. Whenever you are working on your blog or social media channel, you’re logged in to the service you are using. Make sure you test your content either by logging out or using something like “Incognito” mode on Chrome or “Private browsing” on Firefox.

Why?  Sometimes logged in users (especially admin-level) see different content than those who aren’t logged in. There might be content that appears to be published, but in reality it’s set as private and is only visible to admins. For example, on YouTube, if you click the “Videos” feed on your channel, you will see ever single video you’ve ever uploaded, regardless of their visibility status. You might have set some videos as “private” or “unlisted” and forgotten about it, then wonder why you aren’t getting any hits.

This doesn’t just apply to social media or WordPress, same advice goes for developing websites and applications. Developers and designers almost always require/use admin-level privileges when creating something new. It’s really easy to forget to test as a regular user, especially when in a rush.

Try something before criticizing something

The other day I went to a free stand up night at a pub. I didn’t perform, but I instantly became aware of just how difficult it is to be GOOD at comedy. I don’t see myself ever looking at a comedian’s Netflix special the same way (eg. “Oh I’m kind of funny, how hard can it be?”).

Earlier this year I gathered enough courage to do a few VLOGs for YouTube. I was completely taken a back by just how difficult making even the most basic selfie-videos is. Once I hit record, everything I had prepared inside my head to effortlessly deliver to my viewers turned into spaghetti and I started tripping over my own words. Took me probably around five to six takes to make a short two minute video talking about my day. I’m not even going to get into how challenging the technical aspects are compared to traditional photography. I’ve taken a break from making VLOGs for various reasons, but worry not, I just finished filming another video that I hope to get online tomorrow.

If you see someone do XYZ (videos, blogs, comedy) effortlessly, try to copy them and give it a go. Falling flat on your face and eating sh*t while trying something new is a wonderful, humbling learning experience that I can highly recommend to everyone.