One Hot On-Camera Low-Tech Performance Hack

by Steven Washer on April 7, 2014

performance-hack-225What can you do with two iPhones and a slice of apple pie at a diner? Well, the iPhone may be a high-tech marvel, but this video is about doing things about as easily as possible.

And if you watch closely, then watch again, you’ll see a simple performance hack that can really help you sizzle on camera!


Note: This was shot in an amazingly noisy diner. See if you can spot the 427 mistakes!

This video is part of LOW-TECH MONTHย at BrainyVideo. We’ve got a few more like this one coming. Why? Well, because we’re bringing you a brand new program at the end of the month that we think you’re going to love…based on these core low-tech principles. So please tell us below if you found this helpful!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Harmer April 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

I love this. You don’t have to have fabulous lighting or fantastic cameras or mics if the overall intention / shape / communication / message / connection (call it what you will) is strong. I know I’d prefer a genuine message that I felt was communicated well, much more than one that was technically perfect but devoid of relevance, content or connection to me as a viewer.

As someone who’s been obsessive about lighting / cameras / lenses / sound, especially if you’re working on your own, all that stuff can get in the way of the message. Sure, if you have enough people who know what they’re doing it’s great to have beautiful looking and gorgeous sounding video but that’s not the whole story. The message and connection is so important and that’s I think what Steve really “gets” and puts across so well.


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 10:00 am

You’ve totally nailed the spirit of what this is all about, Mark! We’re going to re-frame the discussion away from technology and back on you, where it all starts.


Julie Weishaar April 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

Great video – now to package your ease and comfort in front of the video camera and we can all hit home runs ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 10:04 am

A pleasure, Julie! By the way, the packaging piece will be the subject of the next video.


Julie Weishaar April 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm

“Packaging” self confidence and ease? I look forward to that ๐Ÿ™‚


Mia Sherwood Landau April 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

You guys are brave. You make me want to be brave, too. I loved this one…


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 10:09 am

Mia, I suspect you are plenty brave underneath the myth-making! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Tim Liggins April 8, 2014 at 10:48 am

What did you order? I’m starving!


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

Well, I hate to say this, but diner desserts are so disappointing. They look good in the case, but they taste like cardboard.

Videos can be like that, too. You need to make sure that the gooey center has a real nugget of truth so that your viewers haven’t wasted their time. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the diner, they do eggs pretty well!


Rodney C. Davis April 8, 2014 at 10:51 am

Just what I needed to hear. I just canned my “audience-attracting video” because despite following all your tips, I realized I had to do do another take. I was coming over as someone even I didn’t really recognize.

Hey Steve… you guys make a really cool team. She was the missing ingredient.


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 10:59 am

I usually do more than one take myself. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Think of it like your writing. Do you just dash something off and assume it’s great? I suspect that you look at it and then look at again, then make a few changes here and there.

We did quite a few takes on this video, by the way.

As for Jaeny being the missing ingredient, I can’t argue with you there! ๐Ÿ™‚


Jessica Reed April 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

I recommend that to my clients too! (Minus the cut-out eye. Personally, I find that a little creepy… And for dance instructionals, we’re usually far enough from the camera that posting the photo next to the camera is close enough.) A stuffed animal can also work well.


Shama April 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Great little video Steve, loved it! Did you actually use mics or was it just the built in iPhone mic? Did you just put a little tripod on the table in front of you?


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

No mics in this at all. We did have a tiny tripod on the table.


Shama April 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Oh, and I didn’t figure out what you meant with the 427 mistake. Any hints?


Steven Washer April 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Sorry. That was a bit of hyperbole about the many inconsistencies in the audio and picture. And also about how unimportant they were…


Francois April 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Great example of low tech. There was a time I thought I had to use a green screen. This spring I’ve created a serie of video’s with just a logitech webcam, a lavalier mic and a small whiteboard to illustrate my points. And got positive feedback on this approach which motivated me to create more!


Jim Esmeier April 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Thanks for the tip. Do you have any ideas for making reading a teleprompter look natural?


Steve April 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Yes. Lots. You have to practice, get the speed just right, look away every once in awhile, consciously vary your tempo, volume and contrast, use the right sized fonts, be the right distance, look in the right place and more. It would take a little while to get into all the specifics.

Maybe that’s a good topic for another day…


Jim Esmeier April 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Thanks. Those are good ideas to get me started.


Rebecca Johnson April 8, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Great tip! Thanks.


J Bushnell April 9, 2014 at 7:31 am

Great low tech video Steven! A ‘hidden tip’ within that video was that having a second person on screen for support or to interview adds both interest and credibility.


Mark Schellhammer April 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm

So you shot all of these vid’s with only your iphone? no special lighting, no special mic’s?


Steve April 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Yep. That’s correct. No lighting and no mics. Just what we know about using available light and shadow…


Dave April 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Love it! Thanks! PS Are you going to VidCon?


Steve April 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

I doubt it. We’re more about helping business owners than in building an entertainment empire. ๐Ÿ™‚


Tina April 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

Steve you are so amazing! Wow! I have been super busy this month and saved this video to watch when I could take a break. I’m so happy I did! You make everything seem so simple that even *I* am encouraged to give it a go. Looking forward to the next one!

Thanks again ~Tina


Steven Washer April 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Super! If you liked this one, you’ll appreciate the shockingly easy techniques you’ll get from the next one. ๐Ÿ™‚



David Cunningham April 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Great video, hard to believe it is shot with an iPhone. But this just goes to show what you can do if you have the knowledge yo do it with. Thanks for sharing. Also, I just wrote an article on my blog about the anatomy of video blogging and I refrenced this video in it and linked back to it, just wanted to let you know.


Steve April 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Thanks, David! It’s cool to link back to your blog here. The more info the merrier! ๐Ÿ™‚


Stuart O'Neill May 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Steve, thanks for a good instruction. Do I assume correctly that you see no difference between using Android v iPhone?

Secondly, when using a two camera shot are using #2 to focus on the Your con shots and a reaction shots. I.E. One wife angle and one dirextked. But that opens another issue in how you get your own head shot segments.

Did you have a third person behind one of the cams? Struggling with the issue myself. I using Sony Vegas Pro (basic) for editing. You could use segments from each take, I guess.

Thoughts. (I know this late in the game for this post but I hope not too late.)

Stuart O’Neill


Steven Washer May 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Hi Stuart! One of the great things about the camera phone is the ability to compose the shot in real time. So I just set the camera on a Joby stand and watched myself making faces into it. That was the b-roll camera. So no, we didn’t need another person on camera. Of course, it helps that you’re not moving around. ๐Ÿ™‚

This should work equally well for an iPhone or an Android.

Editing is mandatory for a shoot like this because you’ll always do several takes and you need the shots to line up properly.


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