Bad instructional videos
flood the internet on
a daily basis. Don’t miss
out on the fun!
HOW NOT TO MAKE
A HOW-TO VIDEO
Ignore these handy rules and your instructional
video will turn out great! By Travis J. I. Corcoran
Many people have noted the collision of the open
source/hacker ethic with the growing interest
in hands-on projects. Add the declining cost of
digital video cameras to the mix, and the result is
a huge surge in folks making their own instructional videos.
Illustration by Damien Scogin
If you can imagine a project or a skill, there’s
probably someone who’s made a how-to video
about it — everything from smelting metal to
brewing beer to creating goth cemetery scenes
to lifting large stones.
Perhaps you’re interested in making your own
how-to video. It’s a great idea, and there’s a huge
market! In my job of running a how-to video
rental website I’ve seen lots of good videos, but
also lots of bad ones. After watching all these
videos, I’ve developed a list of rules you should
definitely break if you want to make a great video.
Let’s take a look at some tips from the low-fi
playbook, but remember: Use these tips only in
1. Hold the camera yourself.
Decent quality, consumer-grade tripods can cost as
much as $45. Save that money, and have a friend
hold the camera for you … or better yet, hold the
camera yourself, as you operate machinery.
2. Film with dim lighting.
Halogen shop lamps can cost as much as $15
each at a big-box retailer, and diffusers and
reflectors made out of poster board could cost