Ever wanted to make cute pet videos of your own? Find out how to shoot, light and direct a flick with your cat that everyone will love.
If you've ever found yourself whiling away a little too much time watching cute cat videos on YouTube, you know how addictive it can be. And if you have a cat (or cats!) of your own, chances are you've thought about making cute cat videos of your own.
"Cats are oozing with attitude and character," says professional video maker Aube Giroux. She often has pets play cameo roles on her personal blog Kitchen Vignettes and she has a knack for capturing their personalities and quirks.
Here, she offers tips for capturing feline star quality in your made-for-YouTube clips.
1. Less is more
Even if you could watch Kitty playing the piano or wrestling with her littermate all day, there's only so much a viewer wants to watch of somebody else's pet's antics.
"Sticking to less than one minute for YouTube clips is a good general rule," says Giroux. "Two minutes should be considered a maximum length. If people aren't captivated within the first few seconds of your video, they'll stop watching."
2. Use natural light
It helps if people can see what your cat's doing from start to finish, so lighting is key. "Natural light is best," says Giroux. If there's not enough, she suggests turning on as many lights as possible in the room. "Video can be very unforgiving in low-light situations," she says.
3. The 'meow factor'
Most home video makers rely on the built-in microphone on their camera. With those, it's best to stay as close as possible to your subject, so you can capture every purr.
"You may want to minimize background sounds and turn off radios and any sound-emitting devices like air conditioners too," suggests Giroux.
4. The cat's-eye view
Many cats love the spotlight. "I have found that cats, unlike dogs, have the capacity to be completely oblivious to the presence of a camera right in their face," says Giroux.
She recommends getting as close as you can, while maintaining a focused image. "By getting right down to the cat's eye level, you allow the viewer to enter the cat's universe more fully which makes for a more engaging video." And while you're down there, do your best to keep the camera from shaking: consider a tripod or even balancing your camera on a piece of furniture or pile of books. "If you need to move the camera, pretend you're doing tai chi and use fluid, controlled movements," says Giroux.
5. Direct a great cat performance
Whether through bribing with treats or distracting with a toy on a string, you shouldn't hesitate to interact with your cat to get the performance of a lifetime.
"I have a theory that cats secretly love being in the spotlight and letting their inner kitty diva shine through," says Giroux.
6. Make a soundtrack
While your cat's adorable behaviour will most often be compelling enough to stand alone, you might want to add music to your clip to create a mood or make a pop culture reference and emphasize the humour.
"In one of my videos, I show a dog sitting and waiting for a piece of chicken. After a long, agonizing wait, she finally gets it, at which point I use a slow-motion effect, coupled with a 'hallelujah' soundtrack," says Giroux.
Just make sure you legally download your music first. "Having musician friends or family members is another great way to get free licensed music," says Giroux.
7. Learn from other pet videographers
To get a feel for what makes for a cat comedy classic, check out what's getting all the attention on YouTube. Giroux's favourite cat clips are Nora: Practice Makes Purr-fect (a clip with over 24 million hits), Cat Shower 2 and Surprised Kitty.
Finally, when you start to make your cute cat videos, remember to have fun. Your cat may not end up being the next Maru, but by making videos, you'll really get to know your furry feline better. "And the more you get to know your cat," says Giroux, "the more opportunities you'll find to observe him doing something adorable or hilarious or downright ridiculous."