How I Make YouTube Videos for The Bioneer

By on December 14, 2020

I often get asked how I go about creating my YouTube videos for the Bioneer. This is a process that has evolved over many years and countless videos and is highly personal to me. However, I hope that it could be useful for some people who wish to borrow some of my strategies. And if nothing else, it might be a bit of interesting “behind the scenes” for viewers of the channel.

So, here goes!

Video Editing

The Script

There are two types of video I make:

  • Videos where I am speaking directly to camera (this is called “A-roll” in the biz!)
  • Videos where I speak over the top of other footage (this “other footage” is called B-roll)

In the first type of video I will typically write a script and then discard it. I “internalize” the script I wrote and use that as the basic structure and research process for what I’m about to say. I try to deliver it naturally and off-the-cuff.

Filming presenting

The second type of video involves reading the script verbatim. I often don’t know which type of video I’m going to make (it often depends on whether I’m having a good or bad hair day!), so I’ll usually write the script the exact same way for both types.

Those scripts also become blog posts for this website. That’s important: I don’t like ANY of the work I do to go to waste.

The Writing Process

The process of writing a script usually takes several weeks. Usually, I have several topics that I’m interested in on the go. These might be inspired by conversations, other blog posts, books, or podcasts. Sometimes they are a direct response to requests from users in the comments section.

See also: Manipulating the Brain’s Salience Network and How I write 10,000 Words a Day!

I actually write extremely quickly, but the reason the process takes a long time is because I am synthesizing a lot of information. I simply will not make a post or script I am not pleased with and that means every single one needs to meet several criteria.

Working on YouTube script
  • It must have multiple practical takeaways that can benefit people
  • There should be at least one (ideally multiple) “wow” facts – things that made me really
  • It must offer an angle that is at least somewhat unique and different from other posts that already exist

What often ends up happening when all goes well, is that while researching and reading multiple topics, I will discover that they are in fact linked. I can then combine them into a single script that will provide lots of value and hopefully provide some unique perspectives for people.

Finalising the Script

Most of this happens in my head as I think over the topics I’m interested in, or on the couch while I’m Googling terms and words that I think might lead to something useful. Of course, I draw a lot on my own knowledge and experience too. I have a personal training qualification and a psychology degree. The latter comes in handy more often than you’d think as I’m often writing about the neuromuscular side of training. If not plain brain training and neuroscience!

Then there’s the research. A lot of people ask me where I like to research, so a couple of places I recommend are:

  • Breaking Muscle.com
  • T-Nation.com (The articles can be a little hyperbolic but they are often based on legit, interesting research)
  • Irunfar.com
  • Mark’s Daily Apple
  • Shredded Sports Science (Not only because he said nice things about me!)
  • AthleanX (Another guy whose opinion I wholly trust)
  • Books/Audio books
  • Google Scholar

Most of this happens in my head as I think over the topics I’m interested in.

I also try to alternate between videos that will pleas different subsections of my audience: lots on fitness and functional training, some on superhero-inspired training, some about the brain and productivity.

Phrasing

Over time, I have learned some dos and don’ts for good writing. A lot of this has come from the editors at Android Authority who have instilled good practices in me, largely inherited from the AP Style Guide.

If you can say more with fewer words, do.

Keep sentences shorter. If you can say more with fewer words, do. Write in the active tense. Get to the point quickly.

Ultimately, the process of reading a blog post or listening to a vlog is an investment. You exchange time for information or entertainment. The more quickly you can convey the most value, the more worthwhile that transaction was for the viewer.

Recording the Script

If I’m speaking directly to camera, I will film this potion next: sit in my office and talk. These days, I use a Canon M50 with one of a few Sigma lenses. These have a really wide aperture of f/1.4. This is important as it allows me to create that professional-looking bokeh effect: the camera focuses on me and the background is blurry and out-of-focus. This creates “subject separation” so you focus on me, and it just looks fancy.

Setting up for YouTube

I use my desk set-up as my backdrop, which I have decorated with a few items that are relevant to the futuristic/self-development theme of my channel. I also use some Hue bulbs to create different colors and atmosphere for the backdrop. This goes a long way, and I also like the bulbs when I’m just working. They’re way overpriced but I pay that premium for longevity and so I can sync them with Alexa and other tools.

Recording Tech

These days I record audio via a Rode Mic Pro+. This mounts right on top of my camera and grabs very solid audio quality. If I make a mistake, I simply restart the sentence.

Recording audio for YouTube

Alternatively, if I’m making a B-roll only video, I’ll just read the script straight into Audacity (a free software tool that is pretty much industry standard). Right now I’m doing this with a Blue Yeti Nano. This was given to me when I started recording my audiobook for Audibile. I may or may not be allowed to keep it?? I’ll probably buy the same thing myself if I have to give it back though, as it’s pretty good. I’m also using a pop shield to reduce the sound of “plosives” (sounds that start with P and can sound nasty).

Grabbing B-Roll

Next I need to grab my B-roll. These will be clips that should help to illustrate what I’m talking about.

I get these from a few sources:

  • Typically, I’ll record some new footage of myself training. This helps to give each video it’s own identity to an extent with a consistent background, video style, etc. Some of this is filled on the same Canon M50 but I also use my iPhone 12 Pro Max. I try to get a number of angles on each exercise which I can use to edit together later. The main reason I chose the Canon M50 is for the great autofocus though, which is a Godsend when you are trying to film yourself!
    While I was writing the script, I will likely have made a list of “shots to get” that I can then refer to. I film using a flat color profile to allow for more color grading later.
  • I’ll also draw on the huge bank of training footage I’ve collected over the years. I don’t know why more fitness YouTubers don’t do this! This is again an example of not wasting anything. ALL my filmed workouts are on my portable hard drive in folders, so that I can quickly call up a video of any exercise.
  • New 3D footage that I created. I randomly make these in a Unity program I built myself called “BioWorld 3D.” I create poses using Design Doll 3D, then I import them into this program, apply different textures, create different backgrounds etc. I also use models from elsewhere, like the Unity Asset store. I’ll then move the camera around using a script I wrote and expert to MP4 using another script I wrote. That one’s capable of exporting up to 8K in some crazy framerates! I’m learning animation next but this can create some cool effects in the meantime.
  • I also get a lot of stock footage from Envato Elements. This is a paid service that lets me download any number of fonts, tracks, videos, pictures etc. The danger is that using too many of these can cause the video to become generic.

Editing

With all this footage now ready to go, I now need to edit it together into something resembling a coherent YouTube video! For this, I use Premiere Pro and occasionally a bit of After Effects. This is expensive but what-ya-gonna do?

I currently edit on a 4.5 year old MSI Dominator Pro GT72 6RE. It has a laptop GTX 1070 and a 7th gen processor. While it’s still kicking, it’s certainly showing cracks now and struggles if I import 4K footage. Good thing I just ordered a new Alienware R11 with an RTX 3080, 16-thread Ryzen 9 3950X, and 64GB RAM. I am counting down the days until it arrives!

(This is good general advice: invest in your tech as it will make you significantly more productive!)

Editing workstation
And here she is! Ain’t she a beaut?

The Process

I start by choosing a musical track (usually from Envato, though sometimes I will hire someone to make me a bespoke track through Fiverr). I then start editing my voice first. This order is important as I can time dramatic pauses with the music for maximum dramatic impact.

I can time dramatic pauses with the music for maximum dramatic impact.

Sound design is an element of video creation I’m only just exploring, but adding a crackling sound of a fire or an applause can actually make a fair bit of difference. As can smart use of silence.

If I’m editing my talking head A-roll segments and I need to cut out an error, all I do is to push the camera in slightly (I go from 100% to 110% for example). This disguises what would otherwise look like a jarring missed frame and helps everything to flow seamlessly. I also try to avoid excessive pauses between sentences. Cutting these down can help the flow a lot and make me seem a little more competent. That’s always a welcome side effect!

Editing B-Roll

Better yet, I simply drag and drop some B-roll over the top to completely obscure any errors.

(Or I would if I ever made any errors… *laughs* *sobs*)

Even if mistakes aren’t there, I’ll try and add a lot of B-roll to keep things interesting. I use high-paced or atmospheric Synthwave and I want the experience of watching my videos to be something akin to a sensory onslaught. I’ve always liked overproduced music and overdesigned aesthetics. But this also helps a lot I think to keep people engaged with my videos.

YouTube video creation on GPD Win Max
Editing on something a little smaller!

Editing is fast. Music is techno. Message is packed with interesting tidbits.

For B-Roll only videos, I need to make the entire thing one long string of disjointed clips. The challenge then, is creating a unique identity for that video. These take a LOT longer.

See also: GPD Win Max Review (for Productivity)

Style

The best videos I make will tend to have some kind of unique design language or style all their own. But not every topic lends itself to something like this (and it becomes harder to sustain the longer the video gets).

What I do always do though, is let the music dictate the editing. Cutting on a big boom or fading out as the music finishes can add a lot of weight to whatever is being said.

The best videos I make will tend to have some kind of unique design language or style all their own.

I also do a lot of color grading. I’ll normally start with a pack of LUTs from Triune Digital which mimic films. The Guardians of the Galaxy is one I use a lot. I also like a bit of film grain and chromatic aberration.

What this does, is to ensure that even though the clips may have come from a few different sources, they nevertheless feel somewhat as though they belong in that one video.

Add some titles, and you’re starting to get somewhere!

That Cinematic Look

Using the wide aperture, a good cinematic LUT, and the right music will go some way to creating a cinematic feel. What also helps though, is to do a lot of cutting between different angles of the same subject. This is especially important when I’m filming exercise.

Perceptual motor landscape

Going from a close up shot with a 56mm lens to something more pulled out can look really great. But to do this right, you need to follow two rules:

  • Cut on action to hide the transition
  • Ask “why” you are doing this (revealing information to the audience, showing how tired I am, demonstrating from different angles)
  • Always cut between shots that are significantly different but that are from the same side of the subject (which is me)

This does mean I’m forced to repeat the same movement multiple times, which becomes tricky when I’m doing something challenging. Filming Bioneer videos is a pretty intense workout in itself these days!

I also find that inserting a few shots using a gimbal can help a lot here. I’ve actually lost the mount for my gimbal at the moment though. Like a pro…

While filming I use a mostly flat color profile and so I’ll also edit things like shadows and highlights in post production. I usually also add a little film grain, and other effects like chromatic aberrations and titles/cut-outs etc. Every video I make has a small Bioneer watermark in the bottom right corner.

The Finishing Touches

Once all of that is done, I will set the video to export (which currently takes ages but hopefully will be a lot quicker with the arrival of my new machine) then go about working on the finishing touches.

Every video needs a thumbnail. I’ve developed my own style over time, which tends to be a kind of collage effect but with lots of bold text and effects and a flare for the dramatic. I keep the idea of comicbook covers in mind, but also try to convey as much about the video as possible.

Thumbnail
A recent YouTube video thumbnail from The Bioneer

Oh, and I’ve found that if my physique is on display I tend to get more clicks! It feels a bit cheap at times, but that’s business! I edit these images in Gimp and sometimes a collage app called “Pixlr.”

I’ll also set about writing the description for the YouTube listing, using keywords selected using KeywordTool.io. This helps to improve discoverability but I also just try to base titles on what I would want to click myself.

And that’s it! That is how a Bioneer video is made. I hope you found some tips or things of interest in here. And if you are considering creating your own channel then just keep in mind that it took me over a decade to get to this point. Over time, you’ll develop your own methods and tricks.

The most important tip is to keep on plugging away.

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

2 Comments

  1. Waz says:

    Whilst I have no interest in creating online content this article was very informative, revealing a few strings behind the YouTube puppet show. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kevin L. T. says:

    I’d like to hear more personal experience and results from your research, what have you actually incorporated into your life? Also are you planning on making physical copies of your book SuperFunctional Training. I would certainly be interested?

    Thanks again for sharing another article, I love your training philosophy and have been a firm believer of it for a long time.

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