Author Topic: Calling All Cave Videographers  (Read 3308 times)

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #50 on: March 27, 2021, 10:51:20 am »
There has not be very much engagement in this topic so I was under the impression that it was a damp squib, a lead balloon. That is until I had a peek at the views and found that there has been an unbelievable two thousand, eight hundred and fifty-nine (2,859) of them!  :thumbsup:

I'm gobsmacked.  ;D

So there must be loads and loads and loads of lurkers who hopefully are reflecting on what's been discussed and will be sharing their films on UK Caving over the coming months.

Don't forget that the next instalment will be uploaded on Monday - a week earlier that originally planned.

Offline Brains

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #51 on: March 27, 2021, 11:34:34 am »
Looking forward to it ;D

Perhaps also worth noting the footage you do take will ALWAYS be better than the shots you missed by faffing! You might not want to show it, but if its in the can you have the option...

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #52 on: March 27, 2021, 05:13:12 pm »
Perhaps also worth noting the footage you do take will ALWAYS be better than the shots you missed by faffing! You might not want to show it, but if its in the can you have the option...

Agreed. I often have to use clips that are far from perfect as the narrative wouldn't work without them. I also feel that these clips add another dimension to the video as they show that capturing video underground isn't easy. There's some lens fogging on my clips of the Bonsai Tree in Daren. Ideally I wouldn't have used them but going back the following week to video it again didn't appeal. I know, I'm a lightweight.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2021, 02:27:24 pm »
4. Post Production

This is where footage is edited and arranged into a complete narrative.

4.1: The massive importance of editing
Where the magic is created

The major post production activity is editing. The raw footage counts for little. The disjointed and often disparate clips captured during production can be made into an engaging film in the edit suite. The edit suite is where films can be made or broken. There are loads of people taking video footage on caving trips nowadays but because of complete lack of editing or their editing skills suck big-time the resulting film(s) aren’t watchable.

Editing is a very large subject and so will be covered in detail in part 3 of this series.

4.2: How long should a video last?
Do not make your video longer than it needs to be.

It’s a truism that often less is more. I’ve seen some brilliantly filmed videos with imaginative camera angles and great atmospheric lighting that I quickly lose interest in, because they go on for too long and therefore become (dare I say?) boring. YouTube includes metrics for average view duration and average percentage viewed. Check them out for your channel. It’s quite sobering to see how quickly your audience gets bored or distracted.

Ask yourself, how long does my video need to be get my message across to my intended audience? Which scenes are too long or unnecessary. Could these scenes be shortened or cut out completely to give my video a better pace? As a general rule most clips should be no longer than 4 or 5 seconds, but video each scene for longer than this to give you maximum flexibility when editing. I tend to stop recording far too quickly and often miss reactions which would have been brilliant in the final film. Once when a caver was struggling at the top of a very slippy rope climb down I decided it was too boring to continue filming. There was no real movement and it wouldn’t have made good engaging viewing so I pressed stop and I missed the slip followed by the caver’s reaction which was a very loud F*CK, F*CK, F*CK, F*CK, F*CK. Now that would have made good viewing!

It can be heartbreaking to have to throw away a scene that has taken you a lot of effort to capture. It’s a good brilliantly filmed scene in its own right, but if it’s not necessary as it doesn’t add to the story or spoils the pace of your video then drop it like a hot potato! It can always be added to your stock footage library. I’ve applied this rule to my videos since my Ogof Rhyd Sych video which I filmed in 2011. I found that the more I cut out, the better the video became. The first edit lasted about 11 minutes. The final edit was just over 7 minutes and is much better for it.

In many of my films I only use about 20% of the footage that I filmed during production.

4.3: The importance of sound
Sound advice.

Sound is often neglected by amateur filmmakers but it is just as important as the recorded images. A film can be made or broken if the audio components aren’t right.

Diegetic sound is any sound that emanates from the story world of the film. The source of diegetic sound doesn't necessarily need to be seen on screen, as long as the audience understands that it is coming from something within the film. Most of the diegetic sound in your video will be recorded on the day by your camera’s microphone but sometimes it needs enhancing or punching up in post production. I do this a lot in my films. Often the water sounds in my videos have been added or changed during editing. I will take the sound from one clip and add it to others to give a more consistent listening experience. The heavy breathing of Mark stuck in The Vice in Return to Daren Cilau was punched up post in production for better dramatic effect.

Non-diegetic sound, also called commentary or nonliteral sound, is any sound that does not originate from within the film’s world. The film’s characters are not able to hear non-diegetic sound. All non-diegetic sound is added in post-production. This is also where you add the final recorded version of your narration.

Finally a couple of tips. Try whenever possible not to mix sound from different sources. It is really discernible on the video soundtrack. If you are using more than one camera just use the sound from the camera with the better microphone, or better still use a dedicated sound recorder. In my film What It Takes To Get The Shot  I used two cameras at the cave entrance. The images in the film are from both cameras but I only used the sound from the camera with the better microphone. This won the Hidden Earth Video Salon in 2015 and I was complemented by the judges on the consistency of the recorded sound.

On par with fingernails scratching on a chalkboard is the sound of a cordura over suit rubbing against rock. It’s slap bang in the middle of the range of frequencies for unpleasant sounds, but if you’re filming in a tight tunnel it’s impossible to avoid, and the only way to deal with it is to reduce the sound to an acceptable level in the editing suite. I learned this the hard way from my viewers many negative comments.

4.4: Use of music
Setting the mood

Background music is used to set your film’s tone, to manipulate the emotions of your audience, to add drama, express ambiguity or to provide an element of surprise. This is something else I often get wrong.

The music can be more important than the diegetic sounds. In my video Wild Wookey Adventure Caving 2019 I made three edits - one using just diegetic sounds, one with diegetic sounds overlaid with music and finally one with no diegetic sounds, only the music. The first edit lacked any emotion and just fell totally flat. I liked version two, it was a distinct improvement. The music added elements of drama, excitement and mystery, but version three was the one I uploaded. The cave sounds were not important to the aim of the video, only the music was needed to carry it through.

If you have added narration then your voice needs to be distinct over the background sounds and music. To achieve this the most basic technique is to just dip the music’s volume when talking. I use this a lot, I think it works well, but I have had some criticism for doing it. A technique favoured by some is to pick music that goes well behind the voiceover. I feel that although this might work well for someone reciting the travel news it defeats the purpose of using music in a film.

I get most of my music from the YouTube Audio Library ( Most of the available music is free to use in any of your videos, including videos that you monetise. Some artists license their music under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
These audio tracks can be used freely in your videos, including videos that you monetise.
However, you must include attribution information in your video description.

I try to avoid using copyrighted music as YouTube can get quite sniffy about it. When you do you use copyrighted music you may not be allowed to publish your video, or it may not be available in all countries, but more often the video will be marked with a copyright claim leading to annoying adverts being added to it and you will not be allowed to monetise it.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #54 on: April 01, 2021, 08:14:41 am »
Here are Sid's comments/observations on stage 4 Post Production

Absolutely. Filming is acquiring the raw materials. Editing is the true film making.
Nevertheless, like building a house, you can’t do a good job editing unless you have done the planning and have gathered to best materials.

True, but I was making films for TV, sometimes to fill a one-hour slot, where you had a captive audience, not for what is often short and sometimes cell phone entertainment.

I still feel that a serious documentary needs the space. Unfortunately, the problem is that the average attention span has been lowered by computer and cell phone viewing. That may be changing with internet linked TV becoming more available.

The present series I am working on is 3 half-hours, and I am struggling to keep them to that. It was originally planned to be two, twenty minutes. I do not see how do justice to the subject with shorter videos. The important thing that I have learned is that to keep and audience entertained, you need changes of pace and mood every couple of minutes.

With onboard microphones. sound is so often overlooked. On camera mics can do a great job for general effects, but sometimes, when people, (sometimes out of shot) are not considering the film, it can become a problem. Cave acoustics combined with a too distant microphone often makes speech inaudible. Go-Pro’s in housings, mean no usable sound, often covered by using end to end music. (One of my favourite hates.) The combination of sound and picture is what brings the video to life. There are many shots where the sound is more important than the pictures and in editing, construction of a good multi-layered soundtrack is as important and skilled as editing the pictures.

I will post the final stage Distribution on Monday.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2021, 11:45:43 am »
Here is the 5th and final part of my 'workshop' on film production.

I will post Sid's comments in the next day or two.

5. Distribution

This is where you bring your film to the attention of potential audiences. It includes advertising and marketing.

5.1: Have critical friends9
They may tell you what you don’t really want to hear, but it is worth it!

When I started my YouTube channel I was, and still am to a large extent, a one-man show. I don’t do patience very well and that meant that I would upload a video as soon as the edit was complete, and this was very much a case of act in haste, repent at leisure. When it was too late I would spot, amongst other things, the continuity errors, the scenes that lacked pace, the typos in the titles and the wrong credits. My viewers on YouTube are not backward in coming forward either. They would spot these things. They also criticise my choice of music and its volume, my voice, the lighting, and the quality of the audio, not to mention my sanity.

Since 2014 I’ve shared my videos with some critical friends before I’ve made them available for public viewing. They have been kind enough to endure watching the videos and they return brutally honest feedback. This process can be quite uncomfortable at times and has sometimes led to sequences that have taken me hours to edit being scrapped entirely but in every case the final video has been much better because of getting third party feedback.

5.2: Choosing a Title
Words are important.

Your video has been completed and thanks to your critical friends it’s the best it can be. Now how do you build an audience and get people to watch it? Your choice of title is very important as, in my experience, when people search for videos on YouTube the highest weighting in the search algorithm is given to the video’s title. Also a catchy title can help you hook viewers.

Here’s a few pointers you may find useful when deciding on a title.

It’s a good idea to include keywords your audience is likely to use when looking for videos like yours. Tools like Wordtracker will suggest synonyms with higher search volumes.

Use the word “video” in your title. Many searches for videos include the word “video.”

Google truncates page titles somewhere around the 66 character mark. Any longer and you’ll see an ellipse at the end of your title. Clean, non-truncated SERP10 listings tend to have higher click-throughs.

It’s a no brainer but titles must be descriptive. Use the title to quickly summarise what the video is about.

5.3: Choosing a Thumbnail
A picture is worth a thousand words.

YouTube picks three still frames from your video for you to choose from but it also offers the option to upload a picture of your own. I always pick my own picture. Select or upload a picture that shows what's in your video. A good thumbnail stands out and draws viewers’ attention. My most watched videos tend to show cavers, mainly Mark, negotiating  constrictions, but Richard here has a really great expression on his face.

5.4: Promotion of your masterpiece
How do you bring your film to the attention of potential viewers?

I’ve just completed a highly unscientific survey of my recent Facebook posts and the results are quite interesting.
  • I get most post reactions from posting a photograph.
  • If I post a video which autoplays I get around 66% of the post reactions that I get for photos.
  • If I paste a link to a YouTube video I get approximately 33% of that I get for photos. Also the choice of thumbnail has a very large effect on how people respond. A non-engaging thumbnail and the response rate goes down to less than 10%.
None of this comes as a surprise. Photos offer instant gratification whereas watching a video requires effort and an investment of time. Even when one of my favourite filmmakers posts a video I will often put off viewing it until I have some free time, and then I might never get round to it.
On the other hand the explanation could be that my videos are crap and if I was the only one whose videos were largely ignored then I would have to agree.

Film companies have advertising departments with huge budgets at their disposable. I don’t and I assume you don’t either. I promote my videos by posting them to:
  • My personal Facebook profile.
  • My Caver Keith Facebook page.
  • The Dudley Caving Club Facebook page.
  • Cavers of Facebook and Descent Caving Group Facebook groups.
  • UK Caving.
  • r/caving on Reddit.
  • My Twitter feed.
However in spite this initial push most of my YouTube video views come from YouTube suggesting/recommending my videos. No one outside Google can tell you how the YouTube algorithm that suggests videos to watch works11, but it’s obvious that the videos of successful YouTubers, i.e., those with high view and subscriber counts, get their videos promoted more than those who are less successful. So having a successful channel is very important if you want people to watch your videos. Although having a high subscriber count gets you views it doesn’t follow that it will be your subscribers who mainly watch your videos. 96% of my video views are from people who do not subscribe to my channel!

5.5: Success can have its perks
Commissions, sponsorship and offers

I’m a nobody. In the caving world I’m nothing more than an average caver. I’ve not discovered any new cave (although it’s not for lack of trying), I’ve not led a caving expedition, I’ve never carried out a daring rescue, I’ve never had anything published, in fact I’ve done nothing noteworthy at all.

However according to the Advertising Standards Authority having 30,000 plus followers on social media gives one enough influence to be considered a celebrity, and I have almost 84,000 subscribers to my YouTube channel, and this has had its perks.

I have been asked to produce conference opening videos, I’ve had lighting equipment supplied by Fenix under a sponsorship deal, I’ve had clips from my videos shown on The One Show (about 4 seconds worth), I’ve been interviewed on local radio, articles about me have been published in newspapers, I’ve recently been approached to make a caving podcast, I regularly get asked to review new products and I’ve made a cameo appearance in a horror story, The White Road by Sarah Lotz, in which I also get a very flattering mention in the acknowledgements.

5.6: Don’t be put off by failure
It’s not possible to please all of the people all of the time

According to money saving expert Martin Lewis to be successful involves 4 things.
  • It’s necessary to have talent.

  • Hard work is vital.
  • Have focus. Zone in on what you are good at.

  • Most important of all is luck. Accept that failure is part of the journey and don’t take it to heart.

Keith’s Cavers which was based on Charlie’s Angels, the TV series from the 1970s is the video that took me a great deal of time to film and edit. It is also one of the films I’m most proud of. After it’s showing at Hidden Earth 2018 it attracted the following comments:

"To use this as the opening AV for Hidden Earth was in my opinion an extremely poor choice."
"Quite a number of people commented most strongly and said that it left them completed uninspired."
"At the end you could have almost heard a pin drop such was in my opinion the lack of WOW Factor."
So in conclusion I guess I must have some talent; I do work really hard; I generally have focus and I have embraced failure - big time!

Credit Where Credit’s Due

Of course I couldn’t have done it all by myself. Countless members of Dudley Caving Club have supported my efforts over the years, and I give every one of them my grateful and heartfelt thanks. However I must give special mention to the following amazing bunch of friends. Brendan Marris who has starred in many of my videos, contributed remarkable photographs and has produced some amazing graphics.
Ian Millward aka Bosley from Keith Caver’s. Another of my stars and a very supportive critical friend.
I mustn’t forget to also mention Keith’s Angels:

Mark Burkey who is my biggest star, get it? If not watch the film. He has also allowed me to use his fantastic photographs, is a brilliant actor and has a wicked sense of humour.
Jess Burkey, my most supportive critic.

Kayleigh Wood who is a fairly recent member of the crew but has supported me in all of my efforts wholeheartedly.
And finally my thanks go to Sid Perou and Antonia and Andy Freem for acting as critical friends.

9 Critical friend has its origins in critical pedagogy education reforms in the 1970s and arose out of the self-appraisal activity which is attributed to Desmond Nuttall. One of the most widely used definitions is from 1993, A critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person's work as a friend.

10 Search engine results pages are web pages served to users when they search for something online using a search engine, such as Google. The user enters their search query (often using specific terms and phrases known as keywords), upon which the search engine presents them with a SERP.

11 Since I wrote this I've found this video that attempts to explain the YouTube algorithm. It makes sense to me.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #56 on: April 07, 2021, 06:09:03 pm »
And finally here are Sid's comments on stage 5.

5.3 -5.5
I have never promoted my stuff, although I should possibly do so more. Viewers reaction has always been more important to me than numbers of views.
I would rather inspire a handful of people than entertain a thousand.
Films, whatever their nature become an important element of the history of the sport.

If anyone has any video clips that I could use to illustrate any aspect of film production then please get in touch.

My contact details can be found on the home page of the Dudley Caving Club website at

Online Mark Wright

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Re: Calling All Cave Videographers
« Reply #57 on: April 07, 2021, 06:49:41 pm »
Sid’s films certainly inspired me.

I would probably have stuck to climbing if I hadn’t seen the Beneath the Pennines series.



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