Let’s explore how to master the art of long-form YouTube content and how to apply these methods to your next project.
The world of film and video is changing faster than ever before. In many ways, it’s getting bigger, louder, and more in your face with big-budget mega-blockbusters hitting iMax screens across the world.
While, in other ways, it’s getting smaller, shorter, and much more personal to you and your niche interests.
Yet, somewhere nestled in between ten-second TikTok videos and the latest Marvel superhero adventure is this new golden sweet spot for beautifully-curated, well-crafted video content that exists only in what we can currently call “long-form YouTube content.”
For lack of a better phrase, I believe this is one of the most incredible combinations of these filmmaking and video content styles that can be this perfect blend of both worlds when done for the right audience.
But, what do these video types look like? And, more importantly, how can you create this type of content yourself?
Let’s explore those questions more as we break down how to master the art of long-form YouTube content.
What Is Long-form YouTube Content?
First, before we dive into some specific examples and breakdowns, let’s go over this term a bit more broadly so we can be on the same page about a few things.
For starters, there’s a lot of content that could fall under the segmentation of “long-form” on YouTube. However, for every two hour ASMR session out there, I’m talking about the produced content with many hallmarks of filmmaking and video production.
We’re talking about multiple shots, lots of edits, graphics, and effects, and a general understanding of how film and video have been used for film and television audiences in the past, yet with a modern tinge for how people are consuming media today—which is on our smartphones, computers, and other streaming devices.
These long-form content creators exist almost exclusively on YouTube and produce content aimed at niche audiences. Yet, with the right amount of production firepower and creative storytelling, they can be pretty lucrative and engage with hundreds of thousands of viewers and followers as they build both an audience and a brand.
How to Engage with an Audience
We’re going to start with an example from one of my favorite creators and channels out there in this sphere of niche, long-form YouTube content. The Random Golf Club is based in Austin, Texas, founded by journeyman filmmaker and avid golfer Erik Anders Lang.
After getting his start by creating golf segments in television, Lang was able to transition his focus from your standard TV spots into a more loose and fun type of content focused on the niche of non-traditional golfers.
The result is a vlog-style video brand that quickly grew from self-shooting videos into a podcast, YouTube channel, and clothing brand that exists squarely around this type of long-form video content.
It’s a delicate balance, but as you can see with the success of a brand like this, finding that right niche audience and providing quality (and very watchable) content can be vital to launching not just your career, but even a company with several other talented individuals and fellow creators.
What Cameras and Gear to Use
But, how do you shoot and create this type of content? Luckily this same Random Golf Club recently dropped a “What’s in the bag?” video focused on the video cameras and gear that they use to produce their content.
I’m a massive fan of these types of videos (a niche within itself), and it reminds me of some of the early Vice Guide gear breakdowns that I watched when starting off to inform what cameras and gear I might want in my projects.
For this channel in particular, Director of Photography Simon Krenk utilizes a Sony FX3 as their A-cam for the majority of their long-form video content—which, off the bat, is where I want to start breaking things down.
This is an incredibly affordable camera option for the amount of content that brands like this produce. Take the sheer amount of views and subscribers brands like this wield, compared to the camera’s accessibility and ease-of-use.
Suppose you look at other traditional types of filmmaking and video production. In that case, any feature film will probably require some ARRI-level camera, and any mainstream television show (even if it’s a sports program, for example) will require much higher-end cinema cameras for the shoots.
They also pair their FX3 most often with a simple Sony GM 24-70 lens. This full-frame standard zoom lens has as much value as you can punch into a sub-$2,000 lens. So, it should offer all of the ease-of-use as a starter kit lens, with those added cinematic elements and depth.
The build-out also includes a SmallHD monitor with an array of attachable mics, batteries, and other standard accessories. All excellent gear for any videographer to consider investing in for a variety of shoot types, but a surprisingly affordable, accessible, and easy-to-use build-out for what ultimately becomes hours upon hours of long-form video content that garners millions of views.
Tips for Editing on a Tight Turnaround
The other odd hallmark of these long-form YouTube content brands is that many of them either absolutely need to (or choose to) operate on short turnarounds to maximize the number of videos they can produce in a calendar year.
For example, let’s move off of one of my favorite niche golf channels and onto one of my favorite niche disc golf channels. The team at Jomez Pro has effectively reverse-engineered how professional sports networks cover professional sports tournaments with their next-day coverage videos of events.
Along with a team of on-location shooters recording footage from several different angles at once, they’ve also streamlined an editing process that compiles footage, puts together a comprehensive edit, and even adds in “live” commentary of the final comp, all of which is edited together overnight to be posted on YouTube the following day.
In an countrydiscgolf.com interview, Jomez founder Jonathan Gomez breaks down their workflow as such:
Usually, we break up the footage per hole. The footage is all loaded in the order that it was shot, making it easier to sort through in the editor. However, the workload increases with each different angle. You have to sync all of your angles almost perfectly to avoid the timing being off when cutting from one angle to the next on any given throw.
We’ve always filmed everything digitally instead of analog (tape/film), so the process has always been the same. As far as our current routine, it’s a constantly evolving process. We are always adapting to the way the game is played. Whether it’s learning each player’s style or adjusting to the terrain of a particular course, you can never get too comfortable out there.
– Jonathan Gomez
Ultimately, I’m sure if you spoke to any of these types of creators about what drove them into this distinct style of niche long-form YouTube content, they’d probably admit that they mostly fell into it because they were passionate about creating content in these fields already.
However, as more and more creators are starting their careers and exploring where they should focus their energies and build their cameras and gear around, these types of avenues are becoming more and more lucrative as the sweet spot between the ten-second TikToks and the million-dollar blockbusters.
If you’re at all interested in this type of production, you should check out some of these channels linked—as well as explore for your own niches—to see if creating content around your favorite hobbies might be the right opportunity for you.
In the meantime, feel free to check out these additional filmmaking resources:
Cover image via PHILIPIMAGE.