The 59 Second Challenge

Another approach to short-form vertical video
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This week on The Video and Livestreaming Show, we’re looking at how you can make the process of creating short form vertical video more efficient, require less editing and be more fun!

  1. Get Concise: You’re not writing a novel, you need to be focused and concise.
  2. Use a timer: Practice hitting your points within 59 seconds.
  3. OBS Studio and Aitum Vertical — a match made in heaven!
  4. Adding captions via CapCut: Captions, whether open captions or closed (burnt on) captions, are important. We’ll take you through the process of adding captions within free video editor software CapCut.

Get Concise

If a traditional long-form horizontal video is a chapter of a book, it might be useful to think of a short-form vertical video as a paragraph or a couple of sentences.

When Twitter was first launched, it had a character limit of 140 characters. There was a historical and technical reason for this. This was the character limit of SMS messages on cell phones.

For those that embraced this constraint, they got really good at making their points succinctly.

There’s a good chance you’ll want to go deep on a particular subject, and that’s great. But spend some time mapping out the content to get a better sense of where you are heading, and which major points might lend themselves to the short-form format.

Use a timer

Learning to convey meaning in short soundbites is definitely a skill that require a bit of practice.

I highly recommend that you use some sort of timer to get into the habit of making this points concisely.

There are all kinds of software and hardware options out there.

Unless you want to gamify the process of making this points succinctly and let your audience in on your process, you’ll probably want to make sure that phone/camera/microphone isn’t capturing any alarm sounds.

OBS Studio and Aitum Vertical

In a lot of ways, the 59 Second Challenge is all about optimising your recording process to ensure you don’t need to spend too much time editing.

There are a lot of different ways of recording and editing your vertical video, and the best process is always the one that works for you!

Though we wanted to show you an approach to recording vertical video within OBS Studio with the Aitum Vertical plugin.

OBS Studio is free and open-source software that is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is used for recording local video, livestreaming and changing how you show up on web cam.

The Aitum Vertical plugin will give you a second canvas, this time in a vertical format, that you can use to record or stream vertically.

For the 59 Second Challenge, we really just want to set up a basic scene with you (your camera and audio) and some branding elements.

Hit the record button, make your point, and stop recording.

Then you really only need to trim the start and end of the video and add some captions.

(The Aitum Vertical plugin does much more than simply this, but I think this is a really useful feature for most people, including non-streamers.)

Add Captions

Captions are an important accessibility feature, but they have also become a mainstay for the short-form vertical video format.

Again, there are all kinds of tools out there to help you caption your video, but we spoke about using CapCut because it is relatively easy to use and literally free.

You can use CapCut on your phone, in the browser or download a desktop application.

Importing an SRT caption file in CapCut

If you’ve already created captions in another program and produced an SRT file, you may still wish to add them to a new CapCut project to burn them onto your video.

  1. Drag and drop your SRT file into the media bin in CapCut
  2. Go to the Text options, click on Local Captions
  3. Drag and drop your SRT captions onto the timeline

Adding automatic captions in CapCut

CapCut can generate automatic captions for you.

Automatic captions aren’t perfect. You will need to go in and correct them accuracy. Additionally automatic captions in CapCut do not offer any kind of capitalisation or punctuation, so it is probably a good idea to add that information yourself.

To add automatic captions:

  1. Go to the Text options, click on Auto Captions
  2. Select your language from the drop down list
  3. There is a checkbox to clear current captions if you have existing ones you wish to remove. Check it if desired.
  4. Click Create.

Check the captions for accuracy

  1. Click on the first caption in your time line
  2. Click on the Captions tab
  3. Check each caption for typos or incorrect transcription. You can edit these in the text box provided.

If you find that a word is breaking awkwardly you can go and press Control and Enter to move it to a new line.

If you feel like a caption is too long, put your cursor at an appropriate place in the text and hit Enter to move the remaining text to a separate caption.

Format your captions in CapCut

When you go to the Text tab with a caption selected, you will be present with a whole bunch of different text formatting options. Things like:

  • Font
  • Colour
  • Size
  • Alignment
  • Case

You can change these however you like. But I do recommend is that you leave the “Apply to all” checkbox selected to provide a consistent style throughout.

There are a number of preset styles that you might like to try out.

Think about the position of your captions. They shouldn’t be competing with important visual information within your frame.

The position (x and y) options give you numbers to adjust where the caption sits within your frame. 0,0 will centre the caption within the frame. A negative y number will move the caption down in the frame, a positive y number will move it up.

You might like to add a background to help visually separate the text from the background.

Once you have a good consistent caption treatment for your video, you can deselect the “Apply to all” checkbox and make changes to individual captions.

You might need to move the position of your captions at some point during the video.

You might like to select specific words and change their colour for emphasis.

Animation: Less is more

There are many other options available to you, including animation styles. Feel free to experiment with these and see how they work for your content.

Generally speaking I would encourage you to keep your captions simple. You don’t want them to distract from your message and content.