The Board Game Diaries #3: Doing the YouTube Tango

Last week we uploaded our first video onto YouTube. Though I’ve contributed another video previously for Meeple Box on the Toucan Play That Game channel, this was our first solo venture on the A Throne of Games channel.

We did a review and runthrough of Takenoko and you can check it out here:

This blog article is more for my own reference if anything, listing what I’d like to do differently, notes on the feedback I got and what I’ve learnt from that.

My intention is to keep A Throne of Games as Primarily a Blog and social media feed and only do videos to give a bit of variety to the written articles and to engage with people who primarily look for reviews on YouTube. I think that probably a pretty high percentage of people who actively look for board game news and reviews do so on YouTube so it seems silly to ignore that market. I think I may to about one video every week or so, with some on our channel and others with Meeple Box on Toucan Play that game.

My first solo attempt at a mini review for meeple box is here, I’m about 12 and a half minutes in:

So here’s a list of the feedback we have had so far and what my plans are for future videos. The process won’t happen overnight, some improvements will cost money, others are not practical in the space available to us and some will just come with practice. But I thought this might be useful information to share with other people thinking of giving video reviews a go.

  1. It’s too long – Yeah, at 20 minutes it’s too long for most people’s attention span. Unless you have a knack for entertaining videos it’s important to keep them short and too the point.

    Our original plan was to do one review video and one “How to play” video. We decided not to do the “how to” video and ended up putting too much into the play through section of the review. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but was how it ended up. So I’m happy to not do it like that again. I guess its hard to decided what needs to be covered and what doesn’t in a standard game play run-through.

    I’d like to work on some micro-reviews. Videos that are just a couple of minutes long that give the viewer a taster and if they want more they can come to the blog or check out a longer video.

  2. Smile, and Stop saying umm and ahh – Well yes, I will try to stop. Or just get Suzi to do more of the talking as they do a better job. If I stop saying um it will be much easier to edit. Same as my tendency to stop looking at the camera when I finish a sentence. Again it makes it a pain to edit. In my most recent video (not uploaded yet) I’ve learnt to keep looking at the camera and the end of a take and attempt a smile.
  3. You need a wider frame shot – As much as people don’t want to see me up close I actually like a tighter shot so I’m not sure I’m going to change that, but I may mix it up.

    The actual reason for the tight shot is we are using a phone camera which struggles to get enough light and also sharing one lapel mic plugged directly into the camera. So we can only be about a meter from the camera anyway.

    This is something to work on if/when we invest in better equipment.

  4. You need a better camera and microphone – Well, yes and no. There is no need for high end tech really. Some people can afford the fancy stuff, what happens then is the viewers expectations are raised and they want everyone to use the best equipment. So people like us are stuck as we don’t have the cash to pay out.

    Of course a better mic and camera will get better results, that’s true, but it seems more pertinent to have good lighting which will help out a poorer quality camera. When I’ve looked at my videos I’ve not though its too grainy, but I have thought it’s too dark. So I will be investing in some sort of lighting setup firstly.

    Then I will go for a camera. The phone camera is fiddly to use, the auto-focus is a pain and it is generally far more limited than a proper video camera or DSLR.

    Sound wise one mic between two is not ideal and leads to issues with levelling, but the mic I have is actually decent so for now I just need to get software that will allow me to level the audio and work around the limitations of what I’ve got.

  5. Be unique – That was our plan, to include things in the reviews that most don’t, but we seemed to quickly fall into the standard video review format. I think with time and confidence and ability I’d like to move away from the “sat in front of the camera” format. But for now we are pretty limited by the space and equipment we have. So it seems doing something different is more difficult than you would imagine, but watch this space.

    I’m going to spend time trying out different review channels and seeing what they do in a search for inspiration.

  6. Get a backdrop, put art in the background – I’m looking into how I could rig up a backdrop on the cheap but I think the landlord will be mad if we start attaching hooks to the ceiling to hang material from.

    I don’t like the plain white background. I do like the idea of being sat in front of the games collection, but that’s not possible due to its current location in the flat.

    Backdrops can be too busy though. I recently saw a review where the person was stood in front of walls covered in posters and I found it distracting. Sometimes less is more with this sort of thing.

  7. Add music and overlays – This is something I want to do more of as I get to grips with the editing software. Music would make my presently silent titles screen a bit more interesting and  overlays can be used to show close up photos of the components, which is particularly useful with our camera which struggles to focus at times when holding things in front of it.
  8. Get better at editing – I’m a read technophobe which is why on the whole I’m going to stick to writing. I find editing stressful and our laptop isn’t good enough to cope with what is being asked of it which makes it even harder. That and the decent software is expensive.

    I’m currently using Lightworks which is free but it had a tendency to add echos to audio when you import files and adding effects and moving around clips is really fiddly. On a couple of occasions I’ve left these issues in the videos as removing them is so frustrating and time consuming

    Again good software costs good money so its all going on the shopping list.

  9. “If you want more subscribers have the camera on her more” – Umm, well, I don’t really know how this piece of advice was intended so lets hedge our bets.

    a) Yes, women are under-represented in board gaming, including reviewing, having non-men in video reviews can be a selling point particularly for women who may be more likely to watch a video that isn’t just all men, they may value their opinion more and that may result in more views and subscribers.

    b) No, I have no interest in getting more views from men who see women as objects to be viewed. On the whole I don’t think board gaming has such a problem in this area than computer gaming maybe (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and I’d like to keep it that way.

  10. Be yourself / Enjoy it. – This was the best advise I got and I’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere by reviewers like Shut Up and Sit Down.
    It’s different to the “be unique” advice which is about getting viewers with a unique selling point and is instead about making the video that you want to see and you enjoy making. If you can succeed in those two things then the view ratings will sort themselves out and uniqueness is likely to stem from that.

    As I mentioned before, I want to start including little details that often get missed out but I think are pretty important, for example the size of the game once it’s laid out on the table. There are some games I own that I can’t play as my table is not big enough. Or who may want to play a certain game, as a game may appeal to you, but if it doesn’t appeal you your gaming group it may stay on the shelf.

    This bit of advice more than the others inspired me to go back to the drawing board and hopefully this should start to be reflected in the videos we produce over time.

So please subscribe to our new channel on YouTube to make sure you don’t miss out on any new videos and watch as we slowly learn what to do.

Also remember to follow us on Instagram @athroneofgames or like our NEW Facebook page 

See you next time,
Thanks for reading.

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