Video for Instagram - Tell an Engaging Story in Less Than a Minute | Hallease Narvaez | Skillshare

Video for Instagram - Tell an Engaging Story in Less Than a Minute

Hallease Narvaez, Digital Storyteller, Video Producer

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9 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Finding Inspiration

    • 4. Pick Your Theme

    • 5. Jump Cuts

    • 6. Incorporating Text

    • 7. Do a lot for a little

    • 8. Let's Talk Tech!

    • 9. Conclusion

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About This Class

Have you wanted to start creating short videos for Instagram or other content platforms but don't know where to begin?

Great! This class is for you. Hallease will work through some basic ideas around storytelling and how to incorporate different filming and editing techniques.  We’ll also go over some technical knowledge to keep in mind as you construct your story. Remember everyone has a compelling story to tell, so we'll also go through some prompts to spark your creativity. 

Who is this class for? 

This class is designed for people at all levels of storytelling, whether you’re a beginner who’s interested in self-expression or a seasoned content creator looking for a burst of inspiration. 

What you'll need

At the bare minimum, you’ll need a smartphone with a working camera, potentially video editing software on your phone, and an internet connection to post and share! 

Visual Techniques Covered

1. Jump Cuts to convey the passage of time 

2. Filming in slow motion for humor or impact

3. Incorporating text for humor 

If you enjoy this class and want to dive deeper into editing videos, check out my first class to learn how to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro. 


1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Hallease, a digital storyteller and YouTuber, and ever since I bought my first camcorder at 12, I've been making videos. Whether you want to say a lot or a little, filmmaking is a really strong form of communication whether you want to create a tutorial or How-To video for social media, or you want to convey an emotion and express yourself. The better you become at telling a story, I believe, the better you'll become at understanding the humanity in all of us. In this class, I'm going to go over some of my favorite techniques to tell an engaging story on social media in a minute or less. We'll cover concepts around mood and theme, incorporating music and text. I'll also go over some basics around cinematography, framing, and editing. Don't let any of that scare you though. You can do amazing things with a smartphone and Internet connection, and your own imagination. You can do a lot with very, very little. I think anyone can pull something from this class, whether you're just starting to experiment in video as a means of self-expression, or to create more content online. Or maybe you are a seasoned content creator or YouTuber, who's trying to diversify, level up across platforms. My goal as your teacher for this class is to hopefully give you tools that spark some creativity in you, and allow for experimentation. I'm so grateful that you've decided to spend your time with me, let's get started. 2. Class Project: So for our class project, we are going to create a video that's a minute or shorter for Instagram. This video can then be broken up and put on your IG stories as a way for your viewers to have bite-size content from you or can live on your traditional feed. If it's short enough, be played as an Instagram reel. Now we are talking about creating content for the Instagram platform specifically. But we'll be going over a lot of concepts that work on many other short-form content platforms and can be generally applied to storytelling through video. So don't be afraid to experiment with where and how you post your project. Remember, this should be fun. The world is your oyster. We are not confined to this mortal plane. The Internet is an ever expanding galaxy. You get the point. The class will be broken up into three sections. Section 1 will be a bit more ethereal. The je ne sais quoi, if you will. Basically we'll be going over ideas around the creative process, finding your inspiration, and pick a song. Pick a song. The second part of the class, I'll go over three visual techniques that I think work really well for short-form storytelling specifically. But again, can easily transfer to longer form storytelling too. Then finally, we'll go into some technical knowledge. I'll go over some gear recommendations based on your budget and capabilities and also offer some advice on post-production, which is just the snazzy way of saying editing the video. I'll also include some raw footage for you to work with as well. Let's do this. 3. Finding Inspiration: I'm going to start off this segment by speaking this truth. We're going to go ahead and put this is as text on screen as well because I really want to make sure this resonates with you. Your life is interesting and it has value. A lot of times when I'm talking to people who are interested in beginning to create content or tell stories online, they'll say things like, "My life is boring," or "I don't do cool things." It's all about perspective. I've made stories about very simple things that have resonated with those who watched, walking along the river walk and reminding people to relax or documenting that it rained and I made tea. It's all about your perspective. Look around your space and think about your routines and as we go through these next few lessons, think about how you can use them to change your perspective on your daily life. Now, maybe you want to use this class to practice some escapism. That's cool too, especially during these unprecedented times. Here's an actionable prompt for your escapism story. Think about your favorite song, music video or lyrics, and have that be your inspiration for your video. Take a few moments now and meditate on those two prompts. Jot down some of your ideas and when you're ready, I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Pick Your Theme: Hopefully the prompts from the previous class have helped you spark some ideas. Now, it's time to pick a theme. Remember, we're on a limited run time, so I strongly suggest focusing on one singular theme or focus. A short run time can be frustrating. Yes, especially if you have a lot on your mind and you want to express yourself. But in some ways, it's very freeing as well. People are willing to suspend disbelief with shorter content and just go with it because the run time is so short. It's low buy-in for your audience. So use this to your advantage. Again, I want you to explore and to get to know yourself through this exercise. A popular theme is comedy and embracing your sillier side. I love a good laugh, so go for it. But I also appreciate themes around sorrow and grief because, they're not often shared, even though we all go through those moments. It can have a really lasting and connecting effect with your viewer. That's the beautiful thing about telling stories online. It's a way for you as the creator and your viewer to feel seen, understood, and heard. If you do decide to go more into the sadder side of things though, make sure you're doing that with purpose. Maybe you're someone who has struggled with depression, and you want to use your short to talk about a technique you've learned, to help manage it, to help others who are also struggling. Remember, no matter your size online, you should be mindful of your potential impact. Who have you helped and who have you harmed are questions I always ask myself before I hit "Upload." Sometimes you want to make your video just for you, that's okay too. Earlier, I talked about using music as your inspiration. But depending on your medium, you can literally use your favorite copy written songs. Instagram Stories and Reels, for example, allow you to do this very easily. Tiktok as well. So don't be afraid to use your fellow artists as your muse. When you post your video, make sure to tag them. You never know what can happen. On the flip side of things though, you do want to try to avoid copyrighted music, if you plan on distributing this on a platform like YouTube, for example. I've included a resources sheet where, you can download and use royalty free music through a subscription or for a small fee. So that way you don't have to worry about getting dinged or having strikes against you because it's just no fun for us. It's just a whole burden, this whole thing. It's really annoying. If you are planning on using a song, go ahead and have it ready. Now we'll move into part 2, the visual techniques. 5. Jump Cuts: Welcome to part 2, the visual techniques. The first visual technique we're going to go over is jump cuts. Jump cuts are used to accentuate the passage of time by breaking up what seems like a single shot and obviously showing that a section has been removed. You see this happen a lot in comedy videos and as well as general vlogging, talk to camera style videos to help a speaker seem more succinct. The big thing that makes jump cuts the most effective though is making sure that you keep whatever medium you're using to film in the spot, capturing the same shot. Here's an example of a story I told using jump cuts. I filmed this as part of a longer video that went live on my YouTube channel around quarantine and getting bogged down in the monotony of it all. My theme for this was boredom and I also included music that accentuated the routine. The constant repetition, the lack of change in your environment, and how that can feel like hopelessness. Now, you probably noticed in this video, I took it a step further in each moment. I went through a series of shirts to give the appearance that it's a new day and I'm doing the same thing again. My clothes are the only thing that changes. My action stay the same, my camera doesn't move, the lighting is also the same, and that's what sells the passage of time in this jump cuts sequence. If you are going to try this, think about the one element you're going to change. Sometimes, it is as simple as the words you're saying, or if you want to be more epic about it, you go to the same spot at different times of day to show that passage of time. Or maybe it's about seeming spontaneous and a little crazy. I'm actually going to give a quick demonstration on how to edit using this jump cuts style and I'm actually going to give you all the footage that I used for the example that I showed earlier in this lesson. You can download this footage and use it to practice in whatever non-linear editing software you're using. Let's get into this. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to add my clip that I want to add into the timeline. You'll notice that as I'm adding this clip, you can see as I scrub through it, there's a lot of extra stuff there. You'll notice that I'm standing there for a second to let my camera focus on my face. That's something that I would remind you to keep in mind as you're filming your story. Most cameras now, whether it be your phone, or a DSLR, mirrorless, or some snazzy point-and-shoot, most of them now are set to try to find your face and focus on your face. Especially if you know you're not going to face the camera to do whatever action you're going to do, make sure that you give the camera a second to find you and focus on you before you start your action. You can see, I do that with each individual clip that we use here. I'm going to find where I actually start my action, right there, and then I'm going to trim right there, then I'm going to only have it up for a while. We don't need much to get the point across. Remember, the point is that I'm doing the same thing and my shirt keeps changing to signify that it's been a new day. We're going to go just a little bit and then we're going to hit that scissor again to clip the back-end. Now, we're just going to delete each one. With that, I'm going to do that for all of the clips that I want to include in this little mini moment. Now that I've done that, let's see what it looks like. I actually really like how that's turned out, especially the transition from the second one and the third one, it almost feels exactly time the same, which is crazy awesome. Remember when you're doing this placement, try to stay in the same position for each shot. With this one, I really tried to make sure that my arm was bent a certain way, that I was grabbing the sink with the same hand. I really tried to stay consistent in each one, and it seemed to work out pretty well. Now, again, I have created a couple of different scenes for you to practice with where all I'm doing is changing out my shirt. Make sure to have fun with it, try out some things, mess around with some stuff, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 6. Incorporating Text: Everyone. In this lesson we're going to go over incorporating text into your video to enhance the story. In general though, it's good to include closed captions so that people can watch your video on mute, and it can help make your video more widely accessible to those that are hearing impaired or are using your video to practice or learn a new language. I have had many people that reached out that were appreciative that I had closed captions on my videos. In fact, this class has closed captions that are indeed accurate. You can click the icon over here. I think it's over here, it might be over here I'm not sure. But they'll pop up, either way. Also, the text caption you put below your video can help with SEO. But more importantly, it can give people more context about the video you've created. Maybe you'll just use the text to explain your creative process behind your piece of content, or ask people to engage with you more as well. That's always a good idea. Or sometimes what you're showing won't make sense without the text, that's okay too. Here's another example of how I've incorporated text into my videos. She's gone quite mad. Why is she talking on the microphone? There's nothing here. This video again is part of a longer video that lives on my YouTube channel that talks about all the different ways I was coping while staying home. I wanted to show how stir-crazy I was starting to be. Now this video does a lot of things I talked about at the top of the class. Instead of putting the lyrics to the song, I put a general description explaining what I'm doing, which is singing badly. It doesn't actually matter in this instance, the song I'm singing or what exactly I'm saying when referring to myself in the third person. The humor is the fact that I'm doing those things. I'm also creating intrigue and making people want to scroll down and read the full captions so they can figure out what the heck is going on with this chick. I wonder that myself. Finally, this video works with sound or without sound because of the caption. So you can still enjoy this if your phone is on mute. To wrap up your texts can also just be practical. If you're going to use your video to explain a process, it can be really good to use text to reinforce the visual you're showing. Similar to this lesson, I'm using text on screen to reinforce the tips that I think are most relevant to you. Again, remember these are all suggestions. If you can show something or convey an emotion without having to talk or include text, you're pretty epic storyteller. I'll see you in the next lesson. 7. Do a lot for a little: The last visual technique I'll go over is this idea of doing a lot for a little. In this lesson, I'll give you two examples. For the first example, I decided to make a video about my morning commute to the new office while social distancing. As you can see, I go through my daily morning routine in this video, kissing my husband goodbye as I pack up my laptop and my backpack, and even grab some fruit as if I'm heading out on a long morning commute only to end up on my balcony. Again, lean into understanding your daily routines and see how you can enhance them or juxtapose them against a new reality. Another example is this one featuring my great aunt. Now, with this example, it's a simple shot, but you'll notice, I am starting to combine a lot of the visual techniques we've discussed in this class. My aunt is sitting with her college graduation picture, and in the caption of the post, I'm talking about legacies, and what I think mine might be. Again, also a very passionate song, I want you to feel how important this woman is to me. Now, I'm going to walk you through a funnier slow motion shot. With this demonstration, I want to show you how I would go about filming something in slow motion. The first thing I want to do is figure out what I'm going to film, of course. With this one, I have this idea to show myself slipping and almost dropping things in slow motion, and I think it'll actually be pretty funny, potentially. We'll see, it may not work. That's the beauty of comedy, you just got to try stuff, and hope that it works. But I want to try to have myself dropping things, because during this time now, we're all having to wash our hands more. I myself don't like to be ashy, so I always put on lotion after I washed my hands, and then of course, I go through this moment where everything's super slippery in my hands because I put on too much lotion. I have my camera set up, and I'm actually going to purposely film this vertically because I do want it to live just as maybe IG Reels or just something that can be in my stories that super silly and funny. I do want to incorporate text into this. I think the text caption will just give this more context and make it work. I am already thinking about that in the background as well. Now, something you should think about whenever you're going to do something in slow motion is that, whatever your action is, it actually doesn't need to last very long. Slow motion is going to slow it down. We really only have a fraction of a second or two to make the point you want to make. I think the best way to go about that too, is to be as expressive as possible. Really exaggerate and be over the top with it, so that way, when you do slow it down, you get a lot of emotion, you emote a lot, and you can really pull from it. In this example, this is what I'm going to do. I have set up this section behind me to get rid of some space. Because again, this is really just about focusing on me and dropping things, and so I've made some space for myself to do that. I live in a small apartment, so I had to move some stuff around. Off camera, it's a mess. I'm going to go ahead and start to adjust it and put it to where I think it'll work for me. The beautiful thing about this camera is again, and I'll talk about it in a later lesson, it films vertically so I can see myself and know how this is going. Remember, you can use your phone to do this as well and their most phones now can do some variation of slow motion. Just find that setting in your phone's camera settings and make sure it's turned on. For those of you who maybe have higher end point and shoot, or a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, I am going to shoot this at a 120 frames per second. I'm going to have my shutter at least one-two-fiftieth. I'm still going to have the f-stop at like 2.8-ish or so just because but you all know which I'll do. We go got it. I pretty much like how my camera is set up, I think I'll be able to move across the frame in a really interesting fun way. I'll cut to some of this footage so you can see what I'm looking like, what my framing is here. But I'm really liking it, I think it works. Now, I need to start to look for some things that I can drop for fun and see how this will go. I need to just play around a little bit. The beautiful thing about comedy though, is that it's fun. The point is to experiment and try new things and see what works and what doesn't. I am going to go around my apartment and just grab a few things and see what works, and then do a couple takes of just droppings and stuff, and we'll go from there. I found a loaf of bread. Let's try this out. You see what I'm doing though, is I'm making sure that I try to keep my actions right in the frame here. Again, I'm trying to make sure I emote a lot of just an absurd face in the process too. Keep all of that in mind as you're doing it. Let's see what we got. For the caption, I'm going to put something about over-lotioning, obviously, and having slippery hands. Maybe add some funny music, definitely. Maybe I'll use that theme song from Curb Your Enthusiasm. That could work for this, I think, or something as simple as Fly Like an Eagle from Steve Miller Band. I'll figure out which one feels right, maybe play around with both, and then let's post it. 8. Let's Talk Tech! : I've given you some different visual techniques you can layer into your creation. Now, let's talk about all things tech, which is my favorite. I love tech. But I'm going to try not to be too over the top about tech because honestly it doesn't matter. In this lesson, I'll go over some camera options, shooting style tips, and finally, some editing options for you to consider. The easiest and most widely available device is going to be your phone for sure. Honestly, your phone is more than enough to do most of this. If you are a little more seasoned and to have a bit of general camera knowledge, I would recommend downloading apps that help you to control aspects of your phone's camera, like the ISO, aperture, things like that. There's apps like Moment for iPhone, and Adobe Lightroom has a mobile app as well that allows for more professional controls of your phone's camera. If you're a content creator who's already thinking about investing in a step-up camera from your phone, the Sony ZV-1 is also another great investment. You can use this to record longer from content, it's got a lot of built-in features that are tailored to content creators. It also can shoot vertically natively within the camera as well, which is going to be very helpful for online platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The next and final step-up of course, is a mirrorless or a DSLR. I use the Sony a7 III and I really enjoy it, I like it a lot. But I'm also a professional filmmaker, so purchasing a camera like this was a strategic business investment for my production company. Again, you can do so much with just your phone. Now let's talk about framing and aspect ratios. If you know you're filming this specifically for Instagram or TikTok, then vertical is definitely the way to go. But if you think you might want to include this content in longer form traditional content, then you can still film horizontally. Just be mindful of your framing. When you're filming horizontally, think about your body placement in relation to how you will have to push in and/or crop the footage. If you can, turn on the rule of thirds markers on your chosen device. They're usually in the camera settings of your phone. They will help you when setting upshots. Ideally put the bulk of the action in the center section. So that way when you reframe it for vertical, you're not losing different aspects of the composition that may have been relevant to your story or be willing to adjust framing accordingly so your story translates well to this new size. You will have to crop the footage yourself for the appropriate medium. For IGTV, Reels, and TikTok, the aspect ratio is 9 by 16, or 1,080 by 1,920 pixels. For your Instagram feed, the ideal ratio is 4 by 5, or 1,080 by 1,350 pixels. Finally, let's talk about post-production, or in other words editing the video. Again, depending on which app you put your video on, you can film all of your clips separately and then use the app itself to edit your video together. Or if you're planning on using copyrighted music, the apps have tools within them for you to add the song. But if you do want to entertain using a point-and-shoot camera, or a mirrorless, or DSLR, then you'll want to use some kind of non-linear editing application. I'll list a few of them that range in cost from free to a few dollars. It just depends on what your overall goals and budget are. I use Adobe Premiere Pro for all of my post-production content. I'm a Creative Cloud member, so I have access to the full suite of Adobe software. But if you're a beginner and want to get your feet wet with Adobe, I'd recommend Adobe Rush. You can use it straight from your phone or iPad. As you inevitably outgrow the app, I'm going to go ahead and speak that for you. I want you to be able to outgrow it, your post-production skills are going to get amazing. I can feel it. You can easily transfer your projects to Adobe Premiere Pro. Another really great alternative is iMovie. I think it comes standard in most MacBooks, and it has an iPad, iPhone, or equivalent app as well. Again, pretty seamless transitioning and will give you all the capabilities you need to do this project. The upgrade from iMovie is called Final Cut Pro X. Last I checked it's a flat fee of $299, which is a really great value because throwback I come from Final Cut Pro 7 land. That was what I learned on when I was in film school. The software was around $2,500, and you had to upload it onto your computer through a series of seven or eight CDs. Technology, it's come a long way. There are literally, probably thousands of others. In the community down below, let us know what apps you're using to edit your story so you can help others out. Remember, sharing is caring. 9. Conclusion: Wow. We've reached the end of this class. Look at us, who would have thought? Not me. I hope I've inspired you to think about short-form storytelling a little bit more, so you can use it as self-expression, therapy, or just to connect with more people. I've given you three visual techniques you can consider using. We've covered different themes and utilizing music and text. I am so excited to see what you create. Please make sure to share your videos down below, and don't forget to include a caption of what you'd like us to take away from your project. Also, let me know if you have any questions once you've uploaded your projects and I can give you some feedback. Finally, if you post your project to social media, feel free to app me, I will be happy to see them on there as well. Thank you so much for hanging out with me for this class. I'm very grateful to you for entrusting me with your time. Again, I'm Hallease and I'll see you when I see you. Bye.