Let’s Talk Online Belly Dance Videos


My title, let’s talk online belly dance  videos, came about because I get a monthly blog that is very good and full of important info. It by chance had an article on the do’s and don’ts of creating a professional instructional video. Some of the things stated in the article I didn’t agree with so I decided to let you all know my views on what it takes to do videos and the time involved to make them consistent.

I think the first thing that came to my mind was the dress code for doing an instructional video. Look, I do many videos and I don’t think people buy them because of how I am dressed. They buy my videos because of the content. I dress in color and in black with a hip scarf, nothing fussy that can get in the way of the combinations and moves. Sometimes I’ll wear a skirt; it just depends on my mood. But the bottom line is you don’t have to go and wear fancy costumes each and every time you do a video. Your statement will be with your content, not your clothes. Dress for the occasion but not for a dance gig.

The lighting is so important. We started out with natural light coming in from the windows and the one thing everyone forgets or doesn’t know, is that a one hour video will take up to two to three hours to do. That means the light from the window will change and you have to account for that. The change is subtle but noticeable once you start to edit the video. You will see it’s not consistent with the shadows on the wall and on you and your face. The best lights to get are professional lights so that you can have even light distributed on you at all time that is strong. Another misnomer is to videotape during the day. No, you don’t have to videotape during the day and just so you all know I do some of my videos at night due to my schedule. What matters is the consistency of the light. Direct light on your face, from above and coming in from the back and front corners will make the light in the video more even. You can keep the light consistent each video if you use artificial light that professionals use. We use daylight compact fluorescent lights that are the ones that snake around like a light bulb. Believe me they are bright and once you get down how you want the light to look on camera, then you don’t have to worry about the natural light coming in from the window changing on you. You save time each and every time you create a video.

This is a preference and if you don’t agree, that’s okay but I don’t like mirrors in the background because I think they confuse students. I have had students tell me that it’s easier to follow from the back and I agree because what do we all do at workshops; ask to follow from the back. The background can be a green screen or blue screen which means what…you can’t wear green or blue. You will be a floating head if you do which might be fun for Halloween but not for an instructional video. The background should be what makes you happy. I have my tapestry from Egypt behind me and it brings in such a magical ambiance to my classes. We used the color beige on the walls of the studio which was recommended to us by friends who are independent film makers. It warms the room and it made a huge difference on my skin color. It works really well with the direct light we use. I use a rug but would love a wood floor. The rug gives me occasional rug burns especially when I do turns. If you put an oriental rug on a slippery surface just remember it will go where you go and sometimes that’s not a good thing.

Also most videos are done for students and not clients. I send off my performance videos to clients who want to see my dance ability so there is a distinct difference between these two groups. Even if I get hired for a workshop based from someone buying an  instructional video, I am being hired for my content and teaching skills by dancers who are students first. I think that a target market needs to be in place and a plan devised before you ever get in front of a camera. Videos created that state they are done for all levels miss the mark because I have testimony from women from all over the world stating these kinds of videos are confusing. Remember a beginner will read all levels and think she can do the moves. She won’t be able to follow combinations made for an intermediate dancer. Think of your student base and who you want to target; is it beginners, intermediate level or professionals?  Make videos that are easy for students to choose from that make sense. An instructional video isn’t about the flash of a costume, it’s about the content and how easily accessible it is for students to comprehend and learn from. In the end most students are working on their own dance skills so they are buying your video to get ahead. Give them what they need to move along easily and effortlessly.

Regarding music, I use my CD I had created for my students to practice to. The music doesn’t have to be live especially if you have a good strong mic on your camera. We use a shot gun mic and it works perfectly. I also have speakers that I plug into my boom box and the speakers with the top gun mic work perfect. Editing in music after you have done the video is a major pain in the butt and it’s not necessary. I edit my videos so I know there is so much that goes into them plus then Daniel has to go in and do his magic with chapters and such. Make the process as easy as possible because if you do more then one video you will find they can get very expensive and that’s money you put into them before you even sell them. Marketing them afterwards is not just another blog post but should be a power point presentation. So if you want to create an online belly dance instructional video remember who you are making it for. It’s about your future target market aka, students and making the process something they will enjoy and implement into their dance. It’s all about sharing the joy of belly dance to women all over the world.