//How to fail at online video

How to fail at online video

Anyone involved with producing online video probably is aware of the too numerous to mention web sites they can go to for helpful information and tips on how to do it right. From holding the camera right to getting the color right, it’s all there readily available for the eager to learn and grow. Yet through it all there isn’t much mention on how to do it wrong. So, here I am finding that niche. This is Glen Canning’s guide to failing at online video.

Fail 1. Batteries

Always leave your batteries in your camera from the last shoot and let them sit there for days and whatever you do don’t check them before you head out to that five alarm fire. Leave the spare at the bottom of your gear bag for weeks on end so your desperate “please” plea is answered immediately by a flashing low battery icon as soon as you switch the camera back on with the trusty spare in place. That’s beautiful stuff. While your failing at that remember to never check your wireless microphone battery. No sense having good audio with no video.

Fail 2. Audio

It’s a myth that you can have bad video but not bad audio. People love listening to an overpowering hiss when they listen to someone talk. Never wear headphones to monitor your audio levels and you’ll be amazed at how high you can crank that gain after recording someone you can barely hear. While we’re on that topic remember low levels big brother – distortion. Distortion rules in todays heavy metal unemployed cameraman line ups. Headphones are for iPods. Leave them at home and let the auto audio speak for you and your sense of rock and roll.

Fail 3. White Balance

Artsy Fartsy

There’s nothing that can’t be fixed in post so leave the artsy fartsy white balancing for then. And seriously, who needs to follow the trends of good color management when blues and reds can keep your viewers guessing. What time is it? What season? Who shot this crap? People love that and it’ll be an honor when you realize people correctly say you shot it before the credits even roll. Let the camera white balance for sure fire winter blues.

Fail 4. Focusing


The best and number one reason to always use autofocusing is the ability to blame the camera when your shot is screwed up. Autofocus hunts, but that’s not your problem. You’re not an electronic engineer, your a cameraman. ‘Nough said. Manual focus leads to mistakes that lay right on your lap. Screw that!

Fail 5. Tripods

The less kit the better. Right? Tripods are big and ugly and I always end up clocking someone in the head with them. Leave them at home with the headphones. The newest thing to come out of Hollywood is that fly all over the place shot that doesn’t stay on any one thing for much more then a second. It looks awesome, especially when it’s used with press interviews. I interviewed a cop one time who stopped talking and asked me if I was rolling. Flopping all over the place kept him guessing and on his toes. It was right out of NYPD Blues. Awesome!

Fail 6. Lighting

Natural Light

Light it the way you see it. If it’s too dark than crank the grain gain. Lighting gear is as awkward as tripods and we already left those behind. Besides, if you never light a scene you’ll never have to white balance either. Keep it simple and it’ll look…. uh, fine.

Fail Big

Never plan ahead. Poor planning makes for quick editing. That’s always a plus. Wing your story and never think about sequencing. Conduct endless talking head interviews with one eyed poorly lit barely audible monsters that are cut off at the forehead.

Oh, and keep your lens dirty for the war photog in the trenches look. Lovely stuff.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know.

2016-10-21T21:44:16+00:00August 9th, 2010|Categories: Random Posts|9 Comments


  1. Glenn Hartong August 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    The dreaded “Reverse Trigger”
    That’s why it says REC and STBY (Sucks to be You)

    1. Ask Yes or No Questions
    2. Never listen to your subject (You know what you want the story to be)
    3. You paid for that zoom controller..USE IT.
    4. Get CLOBbRed (Crippling Lack of B-Roll)

  2. FUTURE TOOLS August 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    […] another note – you gotta read Glan Canning’s very funny post “How to Fail at Online Video”.  I laughed my butt off.  Thanks Glen. Share and […]

  3. Lenslinger August 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I think you covered it!

  4. Glen Canning August 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Or you press the record button twice by mistake so the record light glows for a second then shuts off right after you look away. You now have the joy of watching yourself, as you press the record button thinking you’re stopping rather then starting, thanking the interviewee for their time and wishing them well plus the added bonus material of the camera being removed from the tripod and walking backed to the car. Not that I’d know anything about that.

    • Diane April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      And the joyful experience of calling the subject back and asking to redo the interview.

      • Glen Canning April 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

        Yes, always a good one!

  5. Peter Huoppi August 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Don’t press the record button-

    Set up your tripod, lights, and wireless mic. Check the composition, manually set your focus, exposure, white balance and audio levels. Then just proceed with the interview. No need to actually roll tape. You can just tell your viewers what the subject said. That’s what being a journalist is all about, isn’t it? People don’t care what the subject said, they just want to hear your semi-accurate summary.

  6. Fundstücke « Northern Banana Republic August 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

    […] How to fail at online video […]

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Googoo. Maureen Googoo said: I love this post. I also hate crappy video. From http://ow.ly/2neU5 […]

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