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Peter McKinnon, and Learning to Love Creating Video Again

For much of my life I've been interested in filming video. As soon as I was able to afford it, I bought my first video camera - somewhere in the very early 1990's.

The thing is, I don't have a passion for cameras, and I'm not driven to make any particular kind of film. I just feel, shooting video is something I want to do.

I also have no interest in being a camera person for someone else's content. I know I have my own voice and things to share (if my blogs are anything to go by).


This is not a woe is me, I don't know what to film kind of post. I've got plenty of content I can turn into videos for my original The Extraordinary Tourist YouTube channel, that I started back in 2006. A channel I'm currently trying to resuscitate with more frequent videos. In fact if you have an interest in art and/or skateboarding, those are my two main content topics.

I watch a lot of YouTube channels. If there was one channel I would single out as a role model for what I'd like to be doing, it's Peter McKinnon's channel. I'm not just saying that because his channel has blown up over the last year, to the point where he's a YouTube poster boy for what can be achieved even in a saturated market. I'm saying it because he genuinely seems to enjoy every aspect of making content.

Early on Peter made a great video about just getting started with building a YouTube channel. I've posted it below. I'd add one thing to it; try to focus your channel on something specific that interests you. A hobby, sport, television, movies, dogs, cats, etc. Stay focused right from the beginning and you'll find your people (i.e. audience) sooner. That's what Peter did.



What impresses me most about Peter is that he seems to love what he's doing so much he's always thinking about telling a more compelling story through camera placement/angles, composition, backgrounds, lighting, B-roll etc.

So much so, that in a recent video (below) where he and his studio partner, Matty, had to carry a new fridge upstairs to their studio, Matty complained about Peter's need to get '1000 different cut scenes' through out the process... and Peter made that complaint part of the video content!



Peter clearly loves creating content, and always appears to be enjoying the process both on and off camera. I assume he's constantly thinking about how all the pieces of footage will fit together in the final edit.

That's the thing that really baffles me. I can do all that, if I really applied myself but I don't love doing it. However I really want to. I like shooting video. I want to do more of it, but I'm not in love with the process of planning, shooting, and editing. How do I get there?

I used to be excited to make my videos back between 2006-2008. Youtube was just beginning to explode and I was excited to make art/comedy videos despite not being a comedian. I also made speed paints before that was really a thing, but mine included me talking to camera, narration, titles and more.

If I were to chose one video from that period that represents the best of what I achieved it would be Speed Painting 'JAC Leaps Again' which I've embeded below. You'll have to excuse the blurry video. Back then I only had low quality 640x480 pixel webcams to film with (HD wasn't common yet), and I had to further compress my final edit so the file size wouldn't be too horrendous to upload over dial-up internet.



In the years since this video I know my camera presence and on camera energy has improved. It's still not there yet but I've come to terms with needing to appear less tired and be more expressive.

That aside, this particular video clearly has a lot of thought put into the planning, filming, and the edit. It's not just about the painting being created, there are a number of sub stories intertwined with the action.

The thing is, all that thought, planning, and filming, was done over two days on the fly. I painted myself creating the artwork one day. The next day I filmed myself speaking to camera and shooting all the b-roll of me finding my old art and showing it to the camera. You can tell this by the fact I'm wearing different clothes whilst I'm painting to what I'm wearing for everything else.

There was no script or notes. The things I talked about were just what I came up with when I sat in front of the camera. Which is why you get everything from referencing a previous video to talking about background noise (doing that Peter McKinnon thing of including random moments as part of the video content).

 After this video I fell into a template formula that enabled me to create and edit art videos really quickly. Eventually that burned me out, though it would take a couple more years to realise I no longer wanted to keep doing the same thing over and over.

Clearly I can make relatively compelling videos, probably much better now that my equipment, skills, and knowledge have all improved.

Somehow I need to get excited about that stuff again if my channel is ever going to grow. I need to be able to engage with, and present my content in a more interesting way in order to stand out. I need to make the process of making videos fun for myself again. Probably the only way is to just start and keep going until making videos becomes a habit.

To finish this post I'm going to post a very recent video by Peter that I feel makes a great bookend to the first one I posted above. In it he gives a very straight forward talk to camera about why your channel, no matter how small, matters. Whilst you watch it, take note of all the thought that went into producing this video. No one just randomly finds themselves on a train track vlogging!


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