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How to make great YouTube Videos

Want to be a YouTube megastar? Us too.
Here are the basic principles of getting your videos looking and sounding top notch.
1. Steal with pride

If you're keen on making videos for YouTube, you probably have a list of favourite YouTubers - so it's time to study up. They'll have spent years honing their craft, so paying close attention to their films could help you leapfrog a few steps forward. Watch a few of their greatest hits and note down key points. Where are they when they're making their films? What's the background like? The lighting? How long is it? What's the sound quality like? See if you can find common themes that can then inform your own filmmaking.

2. Choose your camera

Obviously this depends what camera you actually own - but if you've got a choice, what will you go for? A compact will definitely get the job done, but a mirrorless or DSLR that can shoot movies is a great choice for professional-looking footage, especially if you select a lens with a shallow depth of field for background blur.

Be careful which lens you pick: the shorter the focal length, the more of the scene you can capture, but a longer lens can have a widening effect on your features. It's up to you what look you prefer, but before you decide, - it's really quite uncanny...

3. Get support

There are two elements that can make or break your video, and one of them is shaky footage caused by a friend holding the camera for you. (We'll get to the other in a second!) Get a proper tripod or ensure the camera's resting on a stable surface before you start filming. If you're planning on moving around during the video, check first to see if your footsteps cause the camera to vibrate - you might not notice while you're recording, but you'll certainly spot this when you watch the footage back! CLICK HERE

4. Sounds like...

People can often forgive slightly shaky visuals, but fuzzy or unclear sound is an instant turn-off. If you're lucky enough to own a camera with a microphone jack, try and get hold of an external microphone to ensure pitch-perfect sound. If you don't have one to hand, just make sure there aren't any unexpected background noises - a few test runs will help you iron out any snags. Running a noise-removal filter during post-production can also help to remove background distraction - your video editing app/software should have this feature. CLICK HERE

5. Keep it level

Basic principle of filmmaking: keep the horizon level. Either use the real horizon or shelves and picture-rails to determine what should be level: if a straight line's visible in your background, you should try and be lined up with it to stop your footage looking slightly peculiar. Use your camera's built-in electronic spirit level, if it's got one, or check your tripod to see if it has a real bubble to keep your footage on an even keel.

6. Look behind you

If your camera offers Wifi connectivity, use your phone as a remote viewfinder to check the framing of your shot while you're in position. Ensure the background isn't distracting or too busy, or that there aren't any unsuitable items lying around - a cluster of half-finished coffee cups aren't really a good look! Think about contrasting colours, especially compared to what you're going to be wearing for the video. PS: tiny stripes or huge logos never work well on camera, and can cause lens strobing - go for block colours or larger patterns to ensure you look the part.

7. Lights...

Lighting can help a mediocre video become marvelous. Try filming near a window for natural side light, or employ a couple of desk lamps, positioned either side of the camera, to create a key-light and fill-light effect. Make sure they're equally balanced to remove any undesirable shadows, and experiment with different looks by moving the lamps towards or away from your position, thereby increasing/decreasing the brightness and the effect on your shot. A backlight - another lamp hidden from the camera's view by your body - will also help. CLICK HERE

If you take our advice, you'll be halfway to YouTube megastardom in moments: now all you need to do is come up with a decent idea...