One of the most successful web series in the last five years, Icarly has been watched by millions of people around the world and has won Emmy awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, and many more. Now you want to make your own web show! Great idea! But how do you get started? And where do you go from there? Here’s your guide to making your own web show just like Icarly!
First of all, don’t assume that you need much more than a laptop and good software. At first glance, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro might seem like good options. You might even be tempted by high-end video-editing programs such as Avid. But these expensive programs are meant for professionals who deal with many layers of video and other elements in their videos. What if you just want to create funny webisodes for YouTube? Your needs will be significantly different from someone producing full-length movies or network television shows—and you don’t need anything near as complex or pricey to get started creating your own web shows like Icarly! Several great programs are available that make it easy to edit basic videos to look great when posted online.
Getting an idea
To make a web series is quite simple, but there are some things you have to keep in mind first. First of all, get an idea for your web show, and second of all; start working on it as soon as possible so that you can finish it quickly. If you have an idea for your web show, but don’t know where or how to begin writing it, then you can refer yourself to places like YouTube, where many people upload videos explaining different techniques that they use.
Finding time to make videos
Maintaining a popular YouTube channel is not just an exercise in fun or passion. It takes commitment and consistency, which are often in short supply when you’re still working on your day job. Recognize that it’s going to take time and patience to make your show work, and have realistic expectations about what you can achieve. Try thinking about making videos for your web show like you would any other project at work—after hours, on weekends, whenever time allows. If making something good really matters to you (and again, it should) it shouldn’t feel like a punishment; think of it as quality bonding time with friends that happens to be video-based.
Start with what you have. If you already own a digital camera and know how to use it, that will save you money. If not, pick up a decent one and learn how to use it. You don’t need fancy gear; your smartphone can work, too. Some video-editing software is also helpful but doesn’t have to cost much; if all else fails, there are free options such as Windows Movie Maker and Apple’s iMovie that are worth checking out. The point is: Do what you can with what you have for now so that you don’t waste any time or money waiting around for things to happen before getting started on your web show.
Lights and audio
Lighting and audio are an important part of any video. Having proper lighting will make your show look professional, while audio can make or break a video entirely. Depending on what you’re filming, you may need both natural and artificial lighting. Natural light is always best—it has a soft, warm glow that makes people look great on camera. If you can’t shoot outdoors or have enough space for lights indoors, go with as many windows as possible (or buy some portable lamps). For editing software, try Adobe Premiere Pro.
I keep my editing process pretty streamlined and simple. I used to edit everything on Final Cut Pro 6, but when Final Cut X came out it was only $300, so I decided to make the switch. Nowadays, FCPX is almost exactly like FCP6, so if you are comfortable with that program it would be super easy for you to get started with X. To edit an entire web show in FCPX you need about two computer screens at a minimum; one screen for all of your media, and one screen for your editing software itself.
Basic set up in Final Cut Pro X
When you decide that you want to create a web show, start by installing Final Cut Pro X. The first thing you need is some software for editing. Once installed, launch Final Cut Pro X and click Create New Project. For your project settings, choose HD 1080 (or whatever quality best fits your video). You can also change your frame rate from 30 fps to 60 fps. In fact, when creating videos for uploading online, it’s best not to use any frame rates higher than 60 fps because they take up too much memory and don’t look as good on websites like YouTube or Vimeo.
Easy editing techniques
The first and most important step is choosing your software. A lot of beginners make the mistake of thinking they need editing software that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This isn’t true; you can get by with what you probably already have (or free software). You just need to know how to use it. YouTube videos are usually in either 720p or 1080p, but in practice, you will likely want 1080p because then people won’t have to spend as much time and bandwidth watching your video before they’re convinced that it’s good enough for them not to click away.
Add music, insert clips and finish it off!
Adding music can add personality and energy, but keep it under control. You don’t want your soundtrack to become too prominent or loud. In addition, editing out superfluous parts of your conversations will improve your sound quality and make you appear more professional. One great place to get royalty-free audio is Jamendo; they have an amazing variety of tunes that are licensed for non-commercial use. Finally, remember that great audio is only as good as its recording quality: It can take some time to get used to using a microphone effectively—the best advice is just to be patient with yourself and experiment until you figure out what works best for you (and sound good!). All in all, taking care of these little details now will go a long way towards making your audience believe in you.