When I think of a Casey Neistat vlog, I think of GorillaPods, Boosted Boards, and sunglasses. Above all, I think entertaining daily movies that are undeniably full of style. But, what exactly makes a Casey Neistat vlog so special, and what can we learn by watching his vlogs?
In this article, I want to break down what I consider to be the core ingredients to Casey’s vlog style so we can level up our filmmaking.
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A Technical Master At Cinematography
In one of my favorite Casey Neistat videos of all time, called HOW TO VLOG LIKE CASEY NEISTAT by CASEY NEISTAT, Casey explains that he set out to create a vlog that felt more like a movie. Instead of a video that simply journaled his day, he wanted to extract movie-worthy segments of his day to create a cinematic story with Hollywood-level filmmaking execution.
And, I think his technical mastery of cinematography provides him the storytelling tools he needs to make these amazing narratives.
Though, the true power Casey has is his deep understanding of how each cinematic technique can be manipulated to better tell the story he wants to tell. He knows (and explains) that he uses the handheld shots for urgency, the drone shots for transitions, the wide shots for establishing, and so much more. He even jokes that he needs to remind himself to take drone shots that actually move the story rather than just for the sake of a cool-looking shot.
Takeaway #1: Master Your Cinematic Tools
Master your craft so you can expand your storytelling capabilities. Casey’s videos are full of cool-looking techniques, like time-lapses and drone shots, and foundational techniques like locked-off shots and handheld shooting. Master the execution of these techniques and understand their effect on the story.
A Style That Only Casey Can Do
When you think of Casey, what do you think? In the beginning, I mentioned what I thought – Gorillapod, sunglasses, and a Boosted Board.
I think ripping open fan mail, hand-drawing graphics in his studio instead of making them in post-production, bleeping out cuss words, and cutting to the next shot before he finishes his complete sentence or thought. Oh, and of course his choice of music.
But I think the point here is that he has developed a strong style in his videos that can only be described as the “Casey Neistat” style. He leans into his videos so much with his own personal tastes and style that he’s created a signature style.
Takeaway #2: Lean Into Your Own Style
Develop your own signature style. If you had someone talk about a video that you made, what would you hope that they would say? Think about something simple, like creating on-screen graphics. Casey typically decides to just write a title on paper with a sharpie – is there an opportunity for you to show your own style through something like creating an on-screen graphic?
How to Hold An Audience’s Attention
Casey’s videos are a masterclass on how to hold an audience’s attention. At the beginning of his videos, he includes segments that are designed to get people to stay on the video. After that, he introduces the core question or theme of the video and sprinkles in details to move towards the resolution. Finally, the endings feel great because the premise of the video has been answered.
What specifically does he do to hold an audience’s attention throughout? He doesn’t hold shots for very long, he constantly has interesting things going on on-screen, and the pacing of his videos is quick so you have to pay attention. Of course, he does a number of other things to hold an audience’s attention, but I think he constantly asks himself while filming, “How can I make the audience care?” and “Will this keep their attention?” and “Is this story interesting?”
Takeaway #3: Grab and Hold Their Attention
Keep the audience watching. When you make your next video, try this simple little test – pause the video every 10 seconds. After those first 10 seconds, ask yourself if you want to keep watching. If not, try to think of what you can do to keep the audience’s attention and make them want to watch the next 10 seconds. Try this on a Casey video and you can see that he is constantly passing this test.
Final Thoughts on Casey Neistat
Casey has forever changed the game of vlogging with his cinematic storytelling, signature style, and ability to keep an audience’s eyeballs on his videos. If it’s been a little while since you’ve seen a Casey Neistat video, go back through and watch some again. You’ll be amazed at how well they have aged and how much there is still to be learned from one of the YouTube greats.
I hope this article was helpful to you and best of luck on your filmmaking journey.