How to Make a Cooking Video for YouTube
It’s been almost 4 years since I hosted my first digital cooking show for The Hot Plate. I’d been teaching friends at McGill University how to cook when a friend, April, suggested that we film it. Within a few months our 5-minute cooking shows were airing all around campus on TVMcGill’s closed circuit station.
The Hot Plate has been filmed for 4 years, in 2 cities and in 5 cramped apartment kitchens. Despite the lack of elbow room, we’ve never given up on our dream of helping food lovers learn to make great food and eat well at home.
With more than 100 cooking shows under my belt I’ve had time to learn a lot of lessons- usually the hard way. I was thrilled when Food Bloggers of Canada asked me to share some tips from my experience to help other food lovers create mouth-watering masterpieces!
The Hot Plate’s Cooking Show Tips
1. Plan Ahead
With so many cooking shows on the web everyone wants to know how they are going to stand out. There are a few key principles to remember when planning what to film.
One, what recipes haven’t been filmed yet? Okay, so most recipes do have some type of a video, but try choosing recipes that have fewer search results. Fewer search results mean that your video will jump to the forefront faster!
Two, pick tried and true recipes. Never make a dish for the first time on camera. Untested recipes are confusing to film, and even worse to watch. Plus, if your audience can’t recreate it successfully at home what was the point?
2. Keep it Simple
It may sound ultra chic and professional when the local hip restaurant uses elaborate names for menu items, not so with video titles. Video titles should be very simple and easy to find for search engines. For example, if I made a Wild Blackberry Marble Pound Cake with Edible Flower Garnish all you need to say is “Marble Pound Cake.” This is enough detail to ensure that users searching for any pound cake recipe or marble recipe will stumble upon yours. Consider putting the word “Recipe” after the name of your dish like “Marble Pound Cake Recipe.”
Simplicity applies to tagging videos as well. Videos that appear more often in the search engine do not have more tags; they have better ones. Pick concise descriptive tags that will most likely be searched for. For “Marble Pound Cake Recipe” consider using tags like “cake, baking, beginner desserts, marble, baking how to.” These simple tags will create better views and stronger audiences.
3. One Camera vs. Two Camera
After two years, we started using two cameras to film The Hot Plate. One camera was stationary and the other was a moving camera for close ups. While I’d recommend this for its quality there are a few factors to keep in mind. The first and most important is cost. Two cameras are obviously more expensive than one. Also, using two cameras takes a little more skill than a solo tripod camera, and that could mean hiring a professional.
If you are just starting off, ask a friend to help focus on you and correct the white balance. Take your time filming and communicate with each other. Make sure that you pause when a tripod or shooter needs to get close up and refocus for any mixing or pouring action. Using a combination of close up and full frame shots means a more exciting video for your audience.
Whichever way you choose to film, make sure you have a tripod! Nothing looks delicious when it is bouncing all over the screen.
4. Colour Game
This is more of a TV trick, but never wear white or heavily printed clothing on camera. White blends into the background and will result in a less appealing video while heavily printed fabrics take away from the food. Opt for bright solid colours if possible.
For food, consider plating. Always finish the video by slicing into or plating a dish for your audience. If you are preparing pasta or a dish that is a monochrome (one colour) consider a sprinkle of fresh herbs or other colourful garnish to make it standout and pop on film.
Always correct the white balance before beginning to film. Most of you will already be familiar with this from food photography, and why it is important. If you aren’t, white balance ensures that all the colours being filmed are true. The walls in my apartment are peach so we always have to correct it to make sure that both the food and myself do not take on a yellow hue. The easiest way to do this is to hold up a white sheet of paper and have a friend manually adjust the white balance until the paper looks white.
5. Money Shot
Every cooking show video needs a money shot or “food porn” moment. This could be drizzling on the final pan sauce, slicing into a still steaming loaf of cornbread or meat falling off the bone. Either way it is imperative that you get a good close up. There is nothing worse than when you’ve finished filming, eaten all the food and days later go to edit the footage only to realize that you missed your money shot. We’ve actually had to remake dishes just to ensure that we get this mouth-watering moment perfect.
To avoid missing it, create a rough outline for filming. Outlines help keep you on track when filming and organize editing. A typical filming layout includes: intro shot, ingredient list and layout, key points or how to tips, preparation instructions, cooking instructions, assembly instructions, plating tips and garnishing ideas.
All in all, have fun and never be shy of getting up close and personal with that special moment that turns a recipe into a WOW-factor!
Hopefully those are helpful starter tips for any food lovers and bloggers looking to star in their own cooking series. I’m always happy to talk in more detail about equipment, editing, etc so please do not hesitate to reach out for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda Garbutt is the Owner & Co-Founder of The Hot Plate, an online cooking resource for food lovers that want to make great food and eat well. The Hot Plate is also a boutique recipe development and food styling firm that specializes in turnkey solutions for clients. When Amanda is not in the kitchen she is learning about wine and exploring the romance behind food.