FIRST, SOME RULES
Until very recently the joke was always about the foolhardy man who didn’t bother to read the instructions. Now, it’s about the plodding sap who does. When you can go on Youtube and find amateurs and professionals to walk you through just about anything, it’s hard not to wonder, why the bother? Well, there’s a catch with Youtube: it’s a howling wilderness of subject matter, where the competent, the incompetent, and the outright dangerous vie for your attention.
Allow us to blaze you a trail of useful videos. We’ve written, read and watched our share of technical information; and what we can say with certainty is that technical instruction is tricky and video is no different. A good video is a gift. A bad video is less useful than a well-written explanation accompanied by neatly drawn illustrations and proper photography. So before throwing out your instruction manuals (if your tools still come with them), consider these four rules for high-quality DIY video.
It’s not about the narrator; it’s about the information he’s trying to convey. Beware the Kardashianite instructor, who is more interested in you being interested in him than in his subject matter.
Sometimes action is best viewed from directly above. Other times you want a front view, or an oblique view. So multiple angles are best – so long as they don’t include classics like “your butt is in my way” or “I could see it before you put your head in my light”.
Wind, traffic and barking dogs drowning out instructions or telltale auditory cues can destroy an otherwise well-shot video’s usefulness. And if someone can’t be bothered to re-record their sound somewhere quiet, they probably don’t measure twice.
It shouldn’t be 10 minutes of rambling and guffaws before you remember why you queued up the video. The objective should be stated and addressed quickly.
ONE FINAL POINT: Just because a video is well produced doesn’t mean its information is reliable. How do you know? Watch more videos from the same source. Does the host generally seem to know what he’s talking about? Be suspicious of anyone whose advice seems unsafe, who contradicts the instructions of a manufacturer, or who violates a warranty or a building regulation. Or, save yourself the trouble and simply consult our list.