Video Content

30 Holiday Introduction Titles for Final Cut Pro X

The name Pixel Film Studios might sound familiar. I referenced them a while back, when I originally created a trailer for my patrons-only vlogs — as seen here. That trailer was made possible by a video walls pack called ProWall: Volume 1.  The price of admission is $30, but it was easily worth it for the kind of work that I do.

Fast-forwarding to today, which just happens to be the launch day of 25 Gadgets of Christmas (I promise, this is related), I'm excited to talk about yet another product from Pixel Film Studios that I have been finding to be incredibly useful. It's called ProIntro: Christmas Volume 2 and it has been blowing my little Christmas-obsessed mind.

ProIntro: Christmas Volume 2 is a set of 30 self-animating winter-themed titles that can be used exclusively in Final Cut Pro X — much like the rest of Pixel Film Studios' products. Each title includes the ability of editing not only the text, but also adjusting a variety of elements like snowflake animations and background gradients.

All the controls are presented within an intuitive window, blending in seamlessly with the rest of Final Cut Pro X. The experience as a whole is very straightforward and easy to understand. And I'm very pleased with the price. For just $30, you're getting 30 unique title presets and a ton of options to play around with.

For an example of what ProIntro: Christmas Volume 2 has to offer, check out the first video in my new series, 25 Gadgets of Christmas, right below. Both the intro and outro were created using this title pack. 

Because Christmas videos are a large focus of mine this time of year, I definitely plan on putting these titles to use in future uploads. Gone are the days of boring white text on a black background. Sure, my typical title style is simple and to point, but there's no harm in trying something new. 

To get an idea of all the presets that are included in ProIntro: Christmas Volume 2, check out the official trailer below. I think you'll be impressed, especially if you are a Christmas freak like myself.

5 Killer Ways to Record Better Videos on Your iPad

No matter what anyone tries telling you, there is nothing wrong with using your iPad to record videos — especially if it means getting the right shot. The cameras in Apple's popular tablet line have certainly come a long way. Pair them with an extra large viewfinder and you've discovered a creator's paradise.

Of course, recording videos on your iPad may be useful and convenient, but that doesn't mean the process is as simple as tapping the record button. Okay, for most people it is, but wouldn't it be nice to stand out?

Below are five tips that I've picked up on over the years. They will not only help you dramatically improve the quality of your shots, but you'll also save some time in the process.

1. Get a steady shot

Recording stabilized video on an iPad is not always easy, but it's certainly possible. While not all iPads feature cinematic video stabilization (exclusive to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro), you can still achieve similar results if done right.

Firstly, let's get the most obvious method out of the way. When recording videos on your iPad, you need to hold your hands as steady as you possibly can. The slightest shift in motion will be noticeable, thus risking ruining your presentation.

It's important to keep calm and focus on getting the shot. If it helps, try propping yourself up against a wall. Doing so can dramatically cut down on the amount of camera shake that is present.

And secondly, it doesn't hurt to look into getting a tripod. Yes, that's correct. You can actually find a variety of tripods that are built specifically for iPad use. It may seem silly, but to serious creators, going this route could be the right choice.

After searching around on Amazon for a bit, I can recommend the following tripods, mounts and adapters : Kross 41-inch Lightweight Tripod | ChargerCity Vibration Free 360° Tripod Mount | Accmor Tripod Adapter

2. Lock the exposure and focus

A fantastic way of capturing video that appears consistent is to lock the camera's exposure and focus. This method works wonders and is incredibly easy to pull off on the iPad, as well as most iOS devices that feature a camera.

To do this, open the default Camera app and switch to the video recording mode. Tap and hold your finger on the subject you want to record. Holding for about two seconds will display a yellow box that enlarges and flashes. This confirms that you have successfully locked your camera's auto exposure and auto focus. You will also see "AE/AF LOCK" at the top of the screen.

Now that the exposure and focus are both locked, this means you can record a video without having to constantly adjust your camera's settings. This is especially useful if you are looking to record a time-lapse where getting a consistent shot is important.

3. Use an external microphone

Recording quality audio can often be overlooked when creating videos on an iPad. While it may not be as exciting as visually capturing what's in front of you, it's still critical that you put some thought into how you plan on recording your audio.

Because iPads don't feature a dedicated USB port, it's easy to assume that you cannot connect microphones of any kind. This could not be further from the truth, as Apple allows all kinds of accessories for users to experiment with.

Let's begin with the standard 3.5mm headphones jack. While this isn't my preferred method, this jack can be used to connect a variety of adapters to work with different types of microphones. For example, this adapter from Griffin enables the use of XLR microphones, which could prove to be quite useful for a specific demographic.

And then there is Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. This is probably the best option for most iPad users. Simply plug in the adapter to your iPad, connect any microphone that uses USB, and you're set. It's that easy.

Finally, let's talk about microphones that are designed specifically to make use of the Lightning port and nothing else. These are microphones that plug directly into the iPad and don't require any kind of extra adapters or cables. And let me just say, this is the route to take.

Look no further than the Shure MV88. Having recently purchased it for myself, I can say with confidence that this is my new go-to microphone for podcasting and recording audio in general. Not only is the quality incredible, but the compatible ShurePlus MOTIV app for iOS makes the recording experience a breeze.

Once the Shure MV88 is connected, you are presented with a variety of options to customize to your liking. From adjusting mic gain to enabling wind reduction, everything you will ever need is right there. And of course, exporting your recordings is just as easy.

The Shure MV88 is currently available on Amazon for $150.

4. Record time-lapses

If you are looking to improve the overall style of your videos, then you might want to record a time-lapse or two. This can be a nice way of further engaging your audience and creating something to be proud of.

Recording a time-lapse on your iPad is easy. Open the default Camera app and scroll through the different capture modes until you see "TIME-LAPSE" in the list. Once selected, be sure to lock your camera's exposure and focus. This ensures that the final video will remain consistent from beginning to end.

When everything is set up and ready to go, simply tap the record button. Your iPad will then begin to capture sequences of time for as long as you prefer. Assuming your iPad is okay to be left alone, this is your chance to walk away and attend to something else.

Once your iPad has had at least 10 minutes to capture its time-lapse, feel free to stop the recording and take a look at what was captured. Sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results. And if not, then try again. Mix up your scenery and try new ideas.

5. Edit in post-production

Once you are finished recording your video, you will want to import it into your favorite video editing application. If you're working on a Mac, I recommend using Final Cut Pro X. For iOS users, definitely check out iMovie. And finally, for any Windows uses reading this, I've heard good things about both Premier Pro and Vegas Pro.

Aside from the obvious splitting of clips and joining them together, your top priority for any video project should be adjusting its color grading and applying any kind of filters that work. How you go about this is completely up to you, so don't be afraid to experiment with different looks and see what works best.

Going back to a previous tip, it's important to not forget about audio. Some adjustments may be required, such as tinkering around with audio levels and adding noise cancellation — especially if any scenes were recorded in a noisy environment.

And finally, adding a soundtrack may help improve the style of your video. Of course, this can vary depending on what kind of video you are producing.

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While these tips apply to iPad users who are looking to create better videos, they can certainly help iPhone users as well. That's one of the many reasons why I enjoy Apple products so much. The creative experience is typically the same across the board.

Do you have tips that you would like to share with the Di Franco University community? Feel free to post them right below!

Video Editing on the iPad Pro

With the recent introduction of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple managed to fit inside of it a 4K-capable camera. Not only is this a first for the iPad line, but it opens up a ton of possibilities for its creative user base — myself included. Check out "Surprise Snow Storm" below for an example.

That video was entirely recorded and edited using only my iPad Pro. It truly is an amazing device that enables me to express my creativity. Drawing and painting with the Apple Pencil is one thing, but creating video content is an entirely different experience. And as someone who has been making YouTube videos since 2006, I feel right at home with Apple's newest tablet.

So, what is the video editing process like on the iPad Pro? Firstly, it's important to mention that the selection of video editing apps in the App Store is severely limited. There aren't many choices as of today, but thankfully iMovie ($4.99) is pretty much all you need when getting started. It's also developed internally at Apple, so you know it's guaranteed to be reliable.

Creating a new iMovie project is simple. Opening the app presents you with three options, but you'll want to tap "Projects" and then the large plus sign. Tap "Movie" and then choose your theme. I prefer "Simple" because it's a basic approach and not overly flashy. Once you select your theme, tap "Create" in the top right corner.

This is where things get interesting, especially if you are new to video editing. The user interface is fairly easy to understand, but if you need help, simply tap the question mark icon at the top of the screen. This displays a handful of hints that can help you quickly navigate and get the hang of how to use iMovie.

Once you take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what's available, you will want to begin dropping in your video clips. If it's not already selected, tap the "Video" icon in the media browser and find the clips you want to use.

Selecting a clip will present several options. For now, focus on simply using the icon that resembles an arrow pointing downwards. Tapping that automatically drops your clip into the timeline, which is where the majority of your work will reside. Continue to do this for each clip as your project grows.

Once all your clips are in place, you might want to consider improving the style of your project a bit. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. What I usually like to do is go for a clean presentation. Something that helps achieve this is by inserting cross dissolve transitions between clips. This simple approach can be quite effective and it really helps tie the project together.

To add clip transitions, tap the small line icon between the clips in your timeline and make your selection. iMovie currently gives you six to choose from: None, Theme, Dissolve, Slide, Wipe and Fade

Another way of dramatically improving your video is to add a soundtrack. Similar to selecting and dropping in clips, this can be achieved by once again accessing your media browser. Tap "Audio" and you are presented with all audio files that are on your iPad. Find something you like and drop it into your timeline.

Repositioning music files in your iMovie project can be very restrictive, but with sound effects you have complete freedom. Apple even provides a library of effects to have fun with. Of course, you are free to import your own.

Once you feel like your project is complete, you'll want to export it as a regular video file. Tap "Done" in the top left corner to go back to your project's main screen. In the bottom are three icons. Tap the middle icon to display your share options.

As you can see, you have plenty of choices. If you prefer to keep things simple, then tap "Save Video" in the bottom left and the video will be exported into your Photos app. Otherwise, you can upload your video to a variety of platforms. This includes YouTube, Facebook and even iCloud Drive.

Considering how well integrated everything is, editing with iMovie on the iPad Pro isn't bad at all. If anything, the experience is actually quite seamless. Sure, it's not the go-to solution for all editors, but going this route can certainly be convenient.

Finally, it's worth noting that iMovie is available on other iOS devices. I simply chose to use the 9.7-inch iPad Pro as an example for the fact that it includes a 4K camera. And as a creative, that just seals the deal for me.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making YouTube Videos

When creating any kind of content, there are always going to be numerous mistakes that you'll want to avoid making — some more obvious than others. This is especially apparent when creating videos and putting them out into the world for all to enjoy, and sometimes even criticize.

Following my pointers below, you can quickly learn how to not only present yourself more professionally, but also be one step ahead of newer video creators. And speaking from personal experience, I can guarantee that you will notice positive results almost instantly.

Uploading videos in portrait (vertical) orientation

Often referred to as vertical video, this is the easiest mistake that you can avoid when getting started on YouTube. Because most users nowadays enjoy watching videos on devices with widescreen displays, you will want to record your content in landscape orientation — otherwise known as 16:9 video.

This can be achieved by simply remembering to rotate your phone or tablet before recording a video. If the screen you are looking at has more horizontal space than vertical, then you're doing it right. Congratulations on conquering one of my biggest pet peeves as a content creator.

Limiting yourself on video ideas

If you are just getting started in creating video content, then consider your YouTube channel a digital playground. You have complete creative freedom to try whatever ideas come to mind, without the risk of losing any kind of viewership.

Ask yourself, why did you make a channel to begin with? Perhaps you're like me and you enjoy talking about technology. If that's the case, then you might want to consider making a handful of unboxing videos — and perhaps a review or two. And if that's not enough, make a video about your favorite apps.

Once your content has been live for a few weeks, go into your Video Manager view and take a look at which videos are performing the best. Use that data to determine the kind of content that your audience prefers to see. But of course, don't limit yourself on just that. Be sure to create content for your own enjoyment, too.

Giving into the haters

Believe it or not, this is still something I struggle with on a regular basis. Sure,  I've gotten better over the years, but sometimes it can be difficult to look past the hate that is generated on YouTube. And believe me, there is enough to go around.

YouTube can be a very dark and discouraging place, but it can also promote  a ton of positivity — which is why it's important to only focus on the individuals who matter. You are always going to have someone in this world who disagrees with your decisions in life, so why waste time trying to justify their actions?

As hard as it may seem, it's best to concentrate your positive energy on your true supporters. Those are the people who will take you far. After all, if someone is willing to personally attack you, do you even want them around? Probably not

Thinking money is everything

Let's make something clear... YouTube is not about making a ton of money. Sure, it's certainly possible, but you do not want to enter the world of video content thinking about generating revenue. You will likely begin making a bit of money at some point, but that should be the least of your concerns when just getting started.

But instead of making money, what about spending it? While I do encourage you to invest in some decent equipment, there is no reason to put yourself in debt. Don't be fooled into thinking you need an expensive camera just to create quality content. Check out my "Starting a YouTube Channel on a Budget" post and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Whether you are looking to spend it or make it, money should not be a concern of yours in the early stages of making videos. Just have fun, as opportunities will present themselves naturally over time.

Taking yourself too seriously

While YouTube has undoubtedly gained recognition over the years as a serious platform for creators, that doesn't mean you suddenly need to be stressed into presenting yourself as a professional. And actually, I've been on YouTube for nearly 10 years now and I have yet to call myself a pro — and I likely never will.

The great thing about YouTube is the ability to be yourself, especially if you are a vlogger. Nothing is more personal than documenting your personal life through video. It's the perfect opportunity to show the world the real you. Do you have a whacky personality and want to share it with others? Knock yourself out!

How to Get Free Products for Review

I will never forget the feeling of being offered my first product for completely free, in exchange for an honest video review on YouTube. It was the Coosh Headset from Bic (yes, the pen company) and I enjoyed my time with it — regardless of the questionable name.

Okay, so reviewing the Coosh itself wasn't that exciting, but surely this was the start of something big. Between then and now, I have put a lot of time into building my channel and forming relationships with larger, more well-known brands. Some of these brands include GoPro, LG and HP — with LG being one of my favorites.

So, you're probably wondering how you can do the same. It's honestly not that difficult. Follow my pointers below and you'll be reviewing products in no time.

Build your brand before anything else

Whether you're making videos on YouTube or blogging via WordPress, I cannot stress enough how important the overall image of your brand is. If a company is going to send you a product for review, they need to know the investment will be worth it.

Does your YouTube channel need thousands of subscribers? No, but it certainly doesn't hurt. And the same goes for the traffic analytics on your website. Numbers aren't everything, but brands do pay attention to this sort of data.

My best recommendation before doing anything else? Create original and interesting content. Show the world you're good at what you do, and then take things from there.

Start with smaller, more affordable products

I'm not going to lie, it amuses me when newer, less established creators expect to receive expensive products from some of the world's most popular brands. Thinking this way is simply not realistic. You need to start out small — much smaller, in fact.

Once my review of the Coosh was complete, I began reaching out to companies in hopes of reviewing some different products. Obviously I wanted to do things right, so I started out small. I contacted companies that I believed would be easier to get a hold of. These primarily included manufacturers of iPhone and iPad cases. Because the average case retailed for between $30–$40 at the time, there was no real risk involved.

Fast-forwarding through time a bit, I did indeed get my hands on quite a few iPhone and iPad accessories for review. Not only was I building relationships with brands, but my channel was also growing. Easy win-win.

It's that simple. All you need to do is ask at the right time. The worst that can happen is rejection, and believe me — you will hear "no" all the time. That's just how it works. But don't let that discourage you.

Present yourself professionally

"What up, LG? Can I have that new 4K monitor you just released, yo? That shit looks bangin'. It would look sooo pimp next to my Mac Pro. You dig?"

If you contact a company with a request like that, you're going to make yourself look like a fool. And you know what? They will probably laugh at you, and deservingly so.

Really though, it's important that you take this seriously. If a company is willing to send you something for completely free, then you need to make the experience worthwhile. What I like do is work off a review template document I have saved on iCloud, that way I can access it from any of my devices.

The template includes a bit of information on my channel, links to past reviews I have done, as well as what I am looking to get out of the review I'm inquiring about. Having this self-made template allows me to quickly contact companies in bulk, making things easier on my end. All I need to do is replace specific text that is relevant to that particular review request.

Know where to look

Everything is together and you're ready to contact companies, but where do you look? This is probably one of the most common questions I receive in regards to product reviews. The solution is actually quite simple, but your experience can certainly vary, depending on who you're trying to get a hold of.

The first place I always go to is the company's website. I usually start with their contact page and see if there is anything I can use. You generally want to stay away from typical contact forms and instead focus on locating information relevant to the media and/or press.

Can't find what you are looking for? Not a problem.

Sometimes it's smart to give Google a try, and this is actually your best bet. Using search keywords like "Company media contact" and "Company press contact" will quickly narrow down your search. Obviously you'll want to replace "Company" with the brand you're trying to work with.

If going the route of Google doesn't work, you might want to consider turning to social media — particularly Twitter. Tweet the company you're interested in and just hope for a response. Because Twitter heavily relies on real-time interaction, you might be surprised at how quickly they get back to you. Contacting them via a Direct Message is also a viable option.

Keep trying

When all else fails, it's important to remain confident in yourself and keep trying. If a company turns you down, which they most likely will (it happens to me all the time), then move on to the next company. There are hundreds of other companies that are worth contacting, so don't be picky.

Remain consistent and true to yourself, and you'll be reviewing products in no time. I can guarantee it.