If you’re looking for a camera or want to learn how to use one, these are the seven YouTube content creators you need to know about.
You don’t need a film degree to pick up a camera and record some footage, but your footage will look much better if you watch a few tutorials first. Sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Masterclass have excellent classes on everything from camera basics to advanced color grading, though you’ll have to shell out a few bucks first. There is no better place for a free education on videography than YouTube, and, of course, this blog.
The problem with YouTube is that there are so many creators to choose from, and each one has a distinct personality and teaching style. Looking up a topic on YouTube can sometimes bring up over a dozen creators, with nothing to differentiate them except their thumbnails and video view count. It’s overwhelming, but picking the right creator is important since you’ll most likely spend many hours watching their content for tips, tricks, recommendations, and tutorials.
To make it easier, I’ve chosen seven of my favorite videography creators on YouTube. Though some are well-known in the YouTube videography scene, some have more modest followings and are up-and-comers in the space. Whether you’re a beginner or a burgeoning videographer wanting to supplement your pre-existing skills, these creators below can help you get there.
1. Potato Jet
Gene Nagata, better known as Potato Jet on YouTube, is one of the platform’s hardest-working creators. He publishes videos weekly on both of his channels — Gene Nagata is his vlogging channel — and that’s apart from his job as a filmmaker working in LA. He also has two in-depth courses on Udemy. His beginner course on filming using any camera is a crash course on camera basics worth only $50. The video below is a lesson from that course. You can check out his courses and LUTs on his website.
Gene is remarkably knowledgeable about cameras and filmmaking, breaking down videography concepts to their most basic principles. He loves cameras and gear, and though he reviews consumer-grade cameras, he’s prone to reviewing obscenely expensive professional filmmaking cameras, lenses, and tripods. His breakdown of microphones with Alex Knickerbocker is, hands down, the best video on the subject I’ve seen, and it perfectly encapsulates his style of teaching. If you’re unsure about whether to purchase a camera or a piece of gear, you won’t be after watching his review.
What I like most about Gene is just how likable he is, capable of delivering his spiel with a sincere, sometimes silly, tone that’s endearing and full of technical jargon that those in the know can appreciate. While some of his reviews on professional filmmaking cameras are a bit over my head, I stick around anyway to absorb as much as possible. A minuscule portion of his audience will never handle an ARRI Alexa camera, but he caters to them just like he caters to those who are buying their first camera. He’s the kind of creator who makes me want to pick up my camera and make videos, which is why he’s one of my favorites.
2. Johnny and Iz Harris
Johnny Harris’ videos are about world politics, borders, and Mexican Coke. He got his start filming a video series on Vox’s YouTube channel called Vox Borders. Vox recently canceled the series, but Johnny spun off from Vox years ago and has been creating content on his eponymously-named YouTube Channel. Iz Harris, Johnny’s wife, also has a YouTube Channel, where she mostly does amazing travel vlogs.
Johnny knows his way around the camera, but he doesn’t talk about videography on his channel. Instead, Johnny and Iz started Bright Trip, a website that sells courses on travel-related topics and travel videography — the website is made in collaboration with Lonely Planet. While most of the courses focus on traveling tips, there are two great courses for those wishing to document their travels: Camera Fundamentals and How To Document Your Trip.
Camera Fundamentals is worth $75 and has ten chapters with over thirty-three videos, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about your camera. Meanwhile How To Document Your Trip, worth $29, is the course for those who want to create great content on their trip. The course is made for travelers with minimal gear and experience, and it covers the whole workflow, from shooting to organizing to editing. If you’re tired of shaky GoPro footage and overexposed iPhone videos from your trips, this is the course for you.
It’s not lost on me that Chrystopher Rhodes is the only Black creator on this list, an unfortunate result of a too-white male-centric YouTube niche. But as one of the few Black creators in the YouTube videography niche, Chrystopher stands out because he’s a professional with fine attention to detail and a penchant for speaking honestly into the camera.
His videos cover a little bit of everything, from camera reviews to gear recommendations to making money as a videographer. His tutorial videos are some of the best-performing on his channel. Chrystopher’s YouTube channel is his side gig, and he regularly works as a music video director.
He may not post a video every week, but his subscriber count has been growing steadily in the past few years, and he’ll probably break 500k subscribers in the next few months. He’s a chill guy with a positive attitude, and he knows how to tell a story in front of the camera. On a final note, I love his studio setup, and you should check out his studio tour if you need inspiration for a minimalist studio/workspace — the white-on-black color scheme will never get old.
4. Sara Dietschy
Sara’s channel is a combination of tech, videography, and lifestyle vlog, and each of her videos are funny and insightful. If you want an honest review of a laptop or phone, Sara is there, but she also focuses a lot on camera reviews. She comes across as effervescent on camera, but don’t mistake her bubbly personality for someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Her videos are an excellent resource for anyone on the market for a new camera.
While she doesn’t do a ton of videography tutorials, her video on switching over to DaVinci Resolve for 30 days is an excellent example of her unique approach to video topics. She also documented her descent into madness when she built a mechanical keyboard from parts she bought on Amazon. Even though she had some trouble building the keyboard, the video ended up being great because she talked to experts and educated herself and the audience on mechanical keyboards. She’s funny, charismatic, and I can’t help but watch another video when the current one ends.
5. Matti Haapoja
With almost a million subscribers, Matti is a well-known figure in the YouTube videography space. He vlogs frequently, but filmmaking tutorials and gear reviews are the best-performing videos on his channel. It was refreshing to see him try and fail to fly a hacked-together drone, but after following his drone adventures, it’s great to see him fly one almost perfectly these days. I enjoy that he presents his thoughts on cameras and gear in a vlog format, which lends him an air of familiarity that feels right at home. His videos’ production value shows that he’s a professional with the knowledge to back it up.
When he’s not making tutorials on YouTube, he hosts the Matti & Pete Show podcast with another popular YouTube videographer, Peter McKinnon. You can purchase LUTs, motion graphics, audio presets, and other video editing assets on his website. Matti also teaches three courses on Udemy that cover color grading, how to shoot wedding videos, and how to make money as a filmmaker.
6. Waqas Qazi
Though Waqas may have the smallest channel on this list in terms of subscribers, his channel’s production value is similar to one with ten times the subscribers. Waqas is a professional colorist through and through, and his channel reflects that, offering lengthy tutorials on color grading and correcting on DaVinci Resolve. Instead of covering a variety of filmmaking topics, Waqas dedicates his videos to color grading. His color grading videos are well-informed and packed with knowledge darts you wouldn’t otherwise learn on other channels.
Color grading is an advanced skill that’s better to learn once you’ve nailed camera basics, but it’s never too early to start learning. His color grading crash course is an invaluable sub-45 minute tutorial that should help you get your bearings with color grading in DaVinci Resolve. Many of his other videos break down individual coloring concepts or provide tips. Still, the channel’s most unique and interesting videos are those where he recreates the look from a popular movie or show. If you want your stuff to look like Blade Runner 2049, Joker, Knives Out, or Parasite, Waqas’ channel is one of the few places offering that kind of help.
7. Daniel Schiffer
Daniel is a low-budget filmmaker’s best friend, and many of his videos offer tips and tricks on how to achieve fantastic shots without spending money on specialized equipment. Since he’s a filmmaker who regularly shoots commercials, he’s got lots of examples of his work that he shares with his audience, offering a behind-the-scenes look not seen in other channels.
Not only are there plenty of tutorial videos, Daniel likes to have fun on his channel, too. In one of his more popular videos, Daniel partnered with Fiverr to see what video editors at different price tiers could do with the commercial footage he shot for a pizzeria. Though that video was fun to watch, his other content is more hands-on and deals out a ton of practical information for videographers.
Daniel puts out a video every few weeks, but they’re so well done that they’re worth the wait. In one video, Daniel demonstrates how simple it is to turn trash footage into filmmaking gold by doing a few things in Premiere Pro. When he’s teaching the audience how to pull off camera transitions and how to use lighting for maximum effect, that’s when Daniel is in his best form. Just look at the video below and tell me you’re not going to use all of those transitions in your next video.
Cover image via sergey causelove.
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