How To Vlog Like Casey Neistat
Renowned YouTube star Casey Neistat recently released a video titled: ‘How to Vlog like Casey Neistat by Casey Neistat‘. For a long time, people have pondered and analysed what makes Casey so unique. But no one puts it better than the man himself. Casey gives a brief insight into the success of his career, as well as his philosophy towards filmmaking.
If you’re unfamiliar with who Casey Neistat is, you can watch his videos here.
The Evolution of Vlogging
Casey starts off by talking about his fascination with the Vlogging genre, prior to him starting in early 2015. He mentions how he took inspiration from established Vloggers in this space such as Ben Brown and FunForLouis.
However, he saw a gap in the market. He noticed that all these Vlogs followed a linear structure, showcasing the highlights of their day from start to finish. He says the thing that fascinated him most was the idea of ‘using your life as a narrative for a daily series’.
Casey refers to his HBO series ‘The Neistat Brothers‘ that was first released back in 2010. He draws a comparison from this series with the Vlogging genre, whilst outlining the key difference between the two.
This difference is: focusing on the most interesting aspects of his life and turning it into a narrative, opposed to the conventional Vlogging format. This is part of what defines Casey’s original style.
His plan was to bridge the gap between the two genres to make something completely original. Casey first tested this out by making a cinematic sequence of his day. After seeing the results, he decided to start daily Vlogging; redefining the genre as we know it.
Casey’s Foundational Principles to Vlogging
1) Story is everything
Casey is a heavy believer in the idea that story is the most important aspect of any film. He often preaches how the gear isn’t important and that too many creators focus on the technical aspects, rather than the core principles. If you want to find out more about getting started with filmmaking, click here.
He goes on to give a brief description of what he believes makes a great story. He focuses on the three act structure; beginning, middle and end. Although this is common practice for most filmmakers, it’s not something that was present within the Vlogging space. By having a set-up, conflict and a resolution, Casey is able to evoke excitement; something he believes is at the core of a well-told story.
Since then, he made a deal with himself. Not to share every intimate aspect of his life but to find that three act narrative within his day-to-day life.
Casey’s second principle, style. Casey’s style is so distinct that it’s almost impossible not to recognise. This has since been popularised by the Vlogging community and imitated a number of times.
He uses a mix of wide establishing shots, locked-off tripod and dynamic handheld shots. He states that the wide locked off shots help the audience forget about the camera, allowing them to focus on the subject or the point he’s making. The handheld shots create a sense of urgency and excitement, letting the viewer feel the spontaneity of the situation; allowing for a more immersive experience.
His biggest pet-peeve is shaky camera movement. He expresses his frustration at the amount of shaky, unprofessional-looking content on YouTube and exclaims the importance of stable footage.
“No-one gives a s**t about your stupid time-lapses or your stupid drone shots”
Casey says he uses these two techniques simply as transitional tools, helping him move the narrative from A to B. Another way he uses them is to establish his surroundings. By providing a wider-context he is able to better represent a sense of time and place. Overall he says the most important thing is that the shot must have at least some relationship with the narrative. It should serve a purpose, opposed to displaying an unmotivated showreel of cinematography.
3) Hardware (Gear)
Casey suggests that there is only one consideration when it comes to your hardware: “use the best camera you have at your disposal”. He explains that when he’s in his studio or in a controlled environment, he will use his most expensive cameras, lights and everything he has to create a good image.
Whereas on the other end of the scale, he will often use his smartphone for connivance, whether he’s out on a run or simply has no room for a large set-up. Emphasising that it’s less about the quality and more about what you have access to. To find out the best low-budget cameras for filmmaking, read this.
Casey’s final and most important rule is “You have to have your own thing”. Meaning you should be original with your content. It’s ok to adapt others styles as long as you end up creating something unique and interesting. This has been Casey Neistat’s formula for success in the world of producing online video content. Through a combination of these skills, along with hard work, consistency and patience, he has been able to form a successful career. Someone who has stood out from the crowd and re-defined a genre to create a unique, entertaining and insightful body of work.
Heres the full video: if you want to check out his channel, click here.