January 2021 Meeting: YouTube and Ham Radio with Pascal Villeneuve VA2PV

SPARC was excited to welcome Pascal Villeneuve VA2PV as a guest speaker at our January 6, 2021 meeting. Pascal is known for his frequent reviews in QST magazine and for his in-depth YouTube videos covering gear, technique, and hamfests. Pascal spoke about how to get started creating ham-related videos for YouTube. Highlights included:

What kind of content on your channel is most popular? Reviews of the latest gear often lead to new subscribers, but those videos have a limited shelf life. Evergreen instructional content gets more views over time.

What is your workflow? Pascal recommends starting with the tools you already have and using free software until your needs expand. For example, DaVinci Resolve is a free, professional-level editing program. Pascal’s editing program of choice is Pinnacle Studio, which charges a one-time fee.

What is the ideal length of a video? YouTubers tend to believe that they cannot monetize anything shorter than ten minutes. But the ideal length depends upon the subject of the video. And it doesn’t matter how short a video is if it’s jittery, so use a gimbal for stabilization.

Do you storyboard? Yes, but the videos rarely turn out as planned. Pascal likes to work off a script. His most carefully scripted piece was a 2017 documentary The DXer and the Technician.

Any mistakes to watch out for? Don’t get into arguments online!

Do you get waivers from people in your videos? Pascal tends to film in public places like hamfests where there are posted notices about recordings. But he also edits thoughtfully to avoid embarrassing anyone.

Do you make any money from your channel? Yes, approximately US$200/month based on an average of 40k views/month. YouTube content is not a great way to make money. His most-viewed video is a review of the Kenwood TS-990 which has (as of January 2021) 98k views, and it has earned CN$380 over five years. He estimates it takes a minimum of 20 hours to create a video.

Any hints for recording video outdoors? Beware of backlighting. The camera on an iPhone is more than sufficient to record outdoors. If you want to invest in a dedicated 4K camera, the Sony ILCE6400 has one of the fastest auto-focus features.

What would you suggest as a question or subject to a get a club started making videos? Have club members share their projects. And don’t feel bad if the first videos aren’t professional. You’ll get better with practice. “If you’re not good at shooting videos, you better be good at editing videos.” He recommends using Open Broadcaster Software’s OBS Studio for screen capturing in 4K. “Don’t aim your camera at your computer screen.” Clubs could also start with a video answering the most commons questions from new members or people looking to join the club.

Show us your set up. Pascal explained much of the equipment in his shack studio and stressed the importance of three-point lighting.

What proportion of your videos are in French vs. in English? Pascal assumed he’d post all his content in English, but MFJ requested a French video. He now produces all his videos in both French and English versions. The videos in French receive about two-thirds of the views of the English ones, likely because there are few other channels posting ham radio content in French.

“All YouTubers are ashamed of their first video. And in five years, we’ll be ashamed of the videos we make today.”

It’s only appropriate that we recorded Pascal’s presentation and posted it on our own YouTube channel. We now have a whopping TWO videos!