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Video Critique: The Toy Review

By Jul 19, 2011February 24th, 20142 Comments

Today’s video critique: A toy geek boldy submits his review for our review.

Dear Steve,

I collect toys as a hobby, and very rarely come across reviews that are entertaining enough to watch.

So I set out to make review videos of my own. I wanted to do entertaining and informative videos, and also wanted to put myself out there so people can recognize me as a person, and not just another pair of clumsy hands clutching random pieces of plastics.

Your book has been very helpful, and I’d appreciate any comments on what can I do to make my video better and more interesting.

Danny Wong

I’m not a toy geek, Danny, but if I were I would really like your video.  It’s moves well, and is loaded with incredibly geeky jokes (Haven’t watched a video with a great Megazoid punchline in …um, never.)  Good job!

But you asked how to make it better—so here are a few ideas:

1)  Prioritize There’s a LOT of information here.  Can you prioritize the key points, so that we know what you think is most important?  By focusing on the priorities and perhaps reducing some of the clutter, your jokes will be even funnier

2) Cut: Hand in hand with prioritizing is cutting.  I know the toy geek culture is very detail oriented, but still– there must be some details that are more important than others.  Try editing this video down to, say, 4 minutes instead of 6:30. This exercise will force you to prioritize, and you’ll end up with a more focused video overall. If it feels like too much, you can always add things back.

3)  Lighting:  To my eye your camera is straining a bit at the lack of light.  Colors come alive with more light, important when showing a toy.  Pull over a lamp or two for the next video.

4)  Get an external mic.  Your audio (which was not awful) will be cleaner and less echo-y if you wire yourself to a lavaliere mic.

5)  More close-ups.  You did a pretty nice job keeping the camera right on top of the toy, but occasionally I wanted more.  If you’re showing detail, it’s okay to fill the frame with it.  You don’t need white space around the toy.  More light will make this look better too.

6)  Rethink the intro. The beginning of your video needs to pull people in.  It’s fine to do some sort of trademark, repeatable open.  It’s fine to be weird.  But you don’t want the weird to last so long that the audience wonders if it will ever end.  If you love that intro, consider that it was almost 10 seconds long.  Can you cut it to 3?  (btw—if “crazy hair” is your character thing, you should be wearing it on screen.  You weren’t in this video!)
(Sorry…video removed by YouTube!)


  • tim says:

    hi thought id be the first to comment, surely you've got to be aware that 90% of pocket cams and domestic camcorders have no mic inputs, so just go get a mic isn't likely to be a solution?

    • steve says:

      Respectfully Tim– I don’t think so. A quick survey at my house reveals 2 consumer camcorders with mic inputs, two Kodak pocket video cameras– one with and one without (the “without” is made to go underwater, so the input would have been difficult) and a Panasonic still camera that shoots HD with an input for sound. That’s 4 out of 5 WITH inputs, or 80%. And that’s pretty much the norm out there in my opinion.

      Availability and ease of use vary for sure. The Canon SLR’s all have them; the iPhone does have one, but it’s very difficult to find the weird adapter you need to use it; Flips don’t have them. But I would make an audio input jack one of my key criteria in purchasing a video camera. Then you CAN buy a mic to go with it.

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