I used to sit in my living room in Indiana and watch other people on YouTube live the life I wanted.
I was doing what we’re “supposed” to do. I bought a house and I had a 9-5 cubicle gig in Indianapolis that I commuted to for no reason every day. I was “safe” and “secure.” Everyone else was happy with my life.
But I wasn’t.
I wasn’t brave enough, not smart enough, not special enough to make the change I wanted. At least that’s what I told myself. Until I realized I was full of horse mess and excuses and started working toward my dream of living in Tucson.
In total, it took us about five years to secure remote jobs, find a motorhome, sell our house, and move to Arizona. It didn’t happen overnight and it took a lot of work and sacrifice. But it was 110% worth the effort because I wake up happy, grateful, and excited every day.
I’m a painfully ordinary person who did an extraordinary thing. And it left me with a story to tell.
Almost four years ago, I reserved the name “thedieselapartment” on YouTube. Now that I had more to say than just “I commute two hours a day to push spreadsheets, come home, hate my life, and do it all over again the next day,” I wanted to share.
But part of my ordinary-ness means that I’m also a private person. And I wasn’t ready for video yet. So I started with blogging and Instagram. I never expected more than maybe 50 people to follow me.
The Diesel Apartment Instagram account now has almost 800 followers. That’s not at all impressive, but as someone who hasn’t done anything to promote it and never expected anyone to be interested in what I was doing, it floors me.
I’ve now reached a point in camera gear, comfort, and knowledge where I’m ready to get started with video content. And last week, we filmed, edited, and uploaded our first YouTube video.
Creating video content isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but it is a lot.
I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share our first video because it’s not “our style” yet. But even though it’s not quite what we were going for, it represents us crossing a big hurdle.
I think we can take the lessons we learned in creating our first video to make our next video more “us.” So here are a few thoughts on the video creation process, including some things I want to do better or differently next time.
Our video editing program of choice
If you ever get into video creation, you’ll find out there’s a ton of choices when it comes to editing your footage.
Some people use the native video editors on their systems (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie), and some go a little fancier with programs like Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro.
I have some familiarity with Adobe products from my photo editing adventures and time in graphic design school, so the video editing tool I went with is Adobe Premiere Pro.
At first, I thought it would be fancier than I wanted with too many options, but once you get going, it’s not a whole lot different than working in Photoshop.
I found an insanely helpful class on Skillshare by Brad Newton, and within a few days, I surprised myself by putting together something that was somewhat watchable.
Having new skills is exciting and I’m looking forward to learning more about Premiere Pro as we create more video content.
Talk to the camera more
In our first video, we had to record voiceovers for the whole thing because we didn’t talk to the camera as we were recording. We didn’t talk to the cameras on this trip because it was windy and we want to try and minimize wind noise in our videos.
While recording and cleaning up the voiceovers was a valuable educational experience, we think a combination of talking to the cameras in the moment and a few voiceovers would make our videos more interesting.
On our next trip, if the weather allows it, we’ll talk directly to the cameras more.
Music or no music?
I signed up for a 30 day trial of Epidemic Sound so I could learn how to add music to our videos. One of my pet peeves when watching YouTube is when the music is so damn loud you can’t hear the person talking, so I learned about “ducking.”
In Premiere Pro, you can tag audio as music, dialogue, sound effects, or ambiance and have the music duck below dialogue bits so it isn’t overpowering. I enjoy videos with music, but I also watch a few YouTube channels with no music at all and I enjoy the hell out of those too.
I think the answer to the “music or no music?” question for us is…both. We don’t want to overdo it with music and make our videos too busy and difficult to edit, but I think a song here or there where it fits the footage will enhance our content.
Don’t strap the Osmo Pocket camera to the front of the Jeep
We wanted to capture the experience of driving south on Highway 83 from I-10, going through the border patrol checkpoint, and traveling down the bumpy expanse of Gardner Canyon Road to give you an idea of what to expect should you decide to camp there or visit.
I held my Osmo Pocket camera out the window of the Jeep, recorded through the dirty and cracked windshield, and attached it to the bumper as we made our way to a dispersed campsite.
We thought attaching the camera to the Jeep would be okay because the camera has a gimbal that usually keeps the footage smooth, but Gardner Canyon Road proved to be too much for the Osmo Pocket. The footage was so trashed that even Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro couldn’t save it.
We purchased an Osmo Action camera for next time, and we’ll use it instead of the Osmo Pocket for footage of the Jeep driving on non-paved surfaces.
Record more footage
When you aren’t used to recording, you forget a lot. I can’t count how many times I said or thought, “Crap, I should be filming this!” as we traveled, set up camp, or encountered wildlife on our trip.
Not recording enough left me with not much footage to work with when I sat down to edit our videos. Luckily, I had enough photos to sprinkle in among the video footage to tell the story and keep things interesting.
Hopefully, with practice and repetition, and now that I know a little more about the editing process, I’ll remember to hit record more often.
Add in more humor
Levi and I both have huge senses of humor. We’re sarcastic, we meme, and we razz each other quite a bit.
While we made some room for joking and sarcasm in the voiceover on our first video, we didn’t catch any of our usual banter or the dumb things we say and do in real-time.
In future videos, we’d like to include more humor. Maybe even a short bloopers sequence when I inevitably drop something or trip over flat surfaces.
Highlight southern Arizona
We live in Tucson in the southern half of Arizona. We’re not sure why, but it’s an often overlooked part of Arizona in favor of places like Phoenix or the Grand Canyon.
Maybe it’s the constant fear-mongering on the news about the border, or maybe there just aren’t that many resources out there highlighting Tucson and the surrounding areas.
Phoenix and the Grand Canyon are great, but southern Arizona is too! We want to show people that the Sonoran Desert is alive, diverse, and worth visiting.
Our overall video philosophy
You probably won’t see many “talking head” type videos from us. The reason we’re making video content is to inspire and entertain you, not highlight ourselves.
The things we do, see, and experience in our beautiful desert home are way cooler than we’ll ever be. So we never want to make “look at how cool we are” the focus of our videos. Because, well…we’re not cool. 😅
We don’t want to be YouTube famous. We’re just doing this for fun, and we want our videos to provide you with ideas and inspiration for your camping, off-road, and outdoor experiences.
If that sounds like something you’d enjoy watching, please consider subscribing to our channel. It helps us by telling YouTube that we make good content.
Thanks for coming along with us on this journey. Here’s to hitting that record button more and creating better video content!