Someone recently asked me if I was a professional video-maker.
"Hah!" I thought. Me, a professional? I'm nothing but a rank amateur. My equipment consists of a Canon A590 digital camera and Windows Movie Maker--hardly top-flight stuff.
But, upon further reflection, I realized that I have come up with a few guidelines for making layout videos--guidelines that, I think, make my videos somewhat watchable.
1) Use a tripod. Always. Nothing detracts from a video like a jerky camera.
2) Keep it short. Three to four minutes, maximum.
3) Keep each scene short. Like on TV, where they switch the scenes every few seconds to keep watchers engaged, layout scenes should be kept short, too. This keeps the action flowing and keeps people watching.
4) Tell a story. The easiest story to tell is that of railfanning--pretend you are a railfan on your own layout. This could mean setting up at one location and recording whatever comes by, or going to several different locations as you follow a train. How do you like to watch trains? Do the same with your model railroad.
5) Good lighting is important. Since that isn't always possible in layout rooms, some cameras allow you to adjust the lighting to make darker scenes brighter.
6) Use good transitions. I like to use a fade, and I often like to let one scene run over the other.
7) I like to use music. I find that even an average video can be made better with a good soundtrack. I like jazz, so that's my music of choice.
Does it work? It works for me, and apparently for a few others. And that's all that counts.