This is a compilation of the core tips you need to know to shoot more like the tech-review master MKBHD.
MKBHD, or Marques Brownlee, is one of my favorite YouTube creators and one of the YouTubers I’ve been watching for the longest. Whenever I see a new MKBHD video pop in my subscription feed, I know I can get a cleanly shot, detailed look at whatever topic he is covering for the day. After watching so many of his videos (and buying lots of stuff based on his reviews), I’ve put together three key tips you need to follow if you want to film more like MKBHD.
Film The Video You Would Want to Watch
In his amazing Skillshare class (full review here), Marques explains that one of the main questions he asks himself when creating a video is, “What kind of things would I want to be covered in a video about this topic?” In other words, what sort of video would I want to watch on this topic? This is what got him started many years ago.
This is an extremely powerful yet simple guiding question to help figure out what needs to be in the video and what should be excluded. For example, let’s say you are making a video covering the newest camera release. What types of questions would you have for someone that had a hands-on peek at the camera? What burning questions do you have that you’d like to be answered first? Do you like it when people include an outro that summarizes the content? What types of shots or details are you interested in seeing?
A simple question like this can help refine how you structure a video, decide what content to keep and what content to exclude, and overall make a stronger, more focused video.
Takeaway #1: What Would I Want to Watch?
Ask yourself what kind of video you would want to watch and go out and make that video. Think this through in-depth and repeatedly ask yourself this throughout the process. What would you want to be shown first? What about at the very end? What would grab your attention? What would you want to watch?
I Promise I Won’t Overdo the Filters
MKBHD has the most hilariously on-brand Instagram description that I’ve ever read.
It reads, “I promise I won’t overdo the filters.”
What does this mean exactly? I think this is one of the clearest guiding principles that he uses when making YouTube videos. From a style perspective, since he is reviewing tech, you have probably noticed that nearly all of his footage is shot with a minimal color grade. In other words, the resulting footage from his videos is very clean and as lifelike as possible.
He literally keeps the filters, or color grades, on his footage to a minimum because he understands that his audience likely wants to see the products as they are and not overly edited. To rehash the first takeaway, I think he personally would want to see footage that is clean and unfiltered as well. How would things change if he did stylize his videos with over-the-top grades? I think it would make it difficult to properly assess the tech he is reviewing from a visual perspective. As such, this conscious decision to keep things clean supports his vision to create great tech videos.
In addition, I think this concept extends beyond just the lack of stylistic color grades on his footage. I think this also covers a promise to keep his content as authentic as possible, literally minimizing the filters from outside pressures, like sponsorships, that could alter his message. Although not as obvious as the aesthetic filter, I think his Instagram tagline hits on one of the cores to the magic of an MKBHD video.
Takeaway #2: What Style Best Matches my Message?
Try being more intentional and provide a rationale for the type of color grade you put (or don’t put) on your next video. What kind of color grade would best support the message of my video? Many creators, including myself, may feel the pressure to stylize all the footage we shoot. But, by taking a step back and first asking ourselves what type of visual would best support our video, we can make the best decision to color grade or, as MKBHD would say, not overdo the filters.
Scripted But Doesn’t Feel Like It
Did you know that MKBHD scripts out nearly every word of his videos? I had no idea until I watched his SkillShare course. He’ll type out everything he wants to say and then, depending on if he will be on-camera or not, he will put his phone down where he has the script and perform the lines. If you watch one of his videos, it’s crazy how well he hides that he has actually pre-written everything.
Parker Walbeck, another popular YouTube creator and founder of Full Time Filmmaker, also scripts out every word for his videos. Unlike MKBHD, he uses a teleprompter to read while he is filming. Like MKBHD, though, he does a very good job hiding the fact that he is reading from a teleprompter.
The magic of MKBHD’s style is that it feels very conversational and easy to listen to. By writing out the script before filming, he’s able to stay concise and on topic. And, since he isn’t reading from a teleprompter directly, he can veer off script, if even just a little, to add back in the feeling that he is speaking off the cuff.
Takeaway #3: What Exactly Should I Say?
Try writing out a full script for your next video and perform it chunk by chunk. Although you may prefer using just talking points (like Sean Cannell), reading from a teleprompter (like Parker Walbeck), or writing it all and performing chunks by memory (like MKBHD), you will never know what is the best route for you until you try.
Closing Thoughts on Filming Tech Videos Like MKBHD
MKBHD is a master tech reviewer. He understands what his audience wants to know by asking himself what he would want to know, he keeps the aesthetic and vision for each video clear by taking it easy on the filters and covers all the content he needs to cover by scripting it out and performing in chunks. If you can utilize these tips in your next video, you will be one step closer to being more like MKBHD.
That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading – peace!