50 Videos in 50 Days

August 10, 2015

I run a YouTube channel about programming, in Scala so far. I have created videos about all sorts of projects, such as solving Project Euler problems, Fun Scala Projects, and building Minecraft mods. I used to create videos every few weeks or so, but as I entered middle school and took on roles in the Leadership class and Student Council, the period between videos grew and eventually I stopped making them. I wanted to start making YouTube videos again, so this summer I set out to publish 50 new YouTube videos in 50 days. And I reached that goal yesterday. This is about how I made that happen.

Building a Rhythm

When I started creating new videos, I decided that I would publish one video a day -- not two, not zero, but just one. I knew that if I publish more videos some days and none on others, I would lose the rhythm and would soon stop. This was a fantastic lesson in time-management -- things will move smoother if you follow a disciplined approach. Hopefully I will have a similar discipline during school!

With this strict rhythm came a few challenges. While on most days I created and published one video, there were some times when I could only publish but not create. I went on a few short vacations, had friends over, and had to go to club meetings. When I knew events like these were coming, I recorded extra videos earlier so that I had a buffer to use. Sometimes I would procrastinate, telling myself that I would be able to quickly make the extra videos just before the event. I quickly figured out this was unnecessarily stressful, so I knew that I had to plan ahead of time.

Creating Variation

To keep my videos interesting (to me and my viewers :)), I decided to create videos not only about Project Euler, but also about writing the Collidium game from scratch in Scala.js. For those videos too, I kept a rhythm: Euler videos on weekdays and Collidium videos on weekends. Having such a schedule simplified the process of deciding which videos I needed to create -- there was no decision to be made!

Following a Process

With the new burst of videos, I wanted to have better quality than the previous ones. I wanted to share each video across all my social accounts, add fancy title sequences and thumbnails, and improve my AV quality. Sharing my videos was simple, I just created a message as soon as the video was published and posted it on each of my accounts. I created a Keynote presentation to generate the title sequence as well as one to generate the custom thumbnail. But the process of improving the recording quality is what tripped me up. I would always forget one or the other thing, such as changing my display resolution, lowering the microphone level, and changing the IDE font size. I kept trying to remember the steps of the process in my head, but I couldn't always succeed! So I made a list of every step of making a video from preparation to publishing. This is how it looks:

Pre Production:
+ Generate titles before recording
+ Do not disturb notifications
+ Display resolution 1080p
+ Change font
+ Logitech camera and yeti
+ Set input volume in sound
+ Incognito window
+ Clear IntelliJ console
+ Make IntelliJ sidebar small
+ No phone

Post Production:
+ Crop webcam recording
+ Chop off beginning and end
+ Insert intro
+ Upload as private

Post Upload:
+ Generate thumbnail
+ Set moderation
+ Set description
+ Add tags and set thumbnail on youtube
  + Euler: scala "Project Euler (Website)" "Computer Science (Field Of Study)" algorithm "Scala (Programming Language)" "computer programming" math
  + Collidium: scala "Computer Science (Field Of Study)" "Scala (Programming Language)" "computer programming" "video games" "HTML5 (API)" scala.js
+ Add to playlist
+ Publish
+ Push git
+ Tweet
+ G+ post

By going through the checklist at every stage of making the video, I was able to move faster and make sure to complete each of the tasks. And it reduced the load on my memory throughout the process. Hopefully another lesson I will follow during high school -- your mind is not a scratchpad.

I'm really glad that I set out and achieved this goal. Even with my internship (which I'll have a post about soon), I was always able to get one video out each day because of the rhythm, planing, and process. I had a lot of fun too!

Now school is about to start (noooo, more homework!). From past experience I think that I will get busy very fast, especially with my new responsibility of leading my school robotics team's software division. So I will slow down, but hopefully not stop!