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5 Tips For Cooking Up a Recipe Video

Looks easy, right? Wrong.

Let’s be honest. We are marketing professionals, not Top Chefs. So go ahead and accept it from the start. If you attempt an instructional recipe video, there will be blunders. Maybe even blender blunders depending on your recipe.

#CSUSocial attempted our very first recipe video for Halloween. And well, let’s say, it was definitely a learning experience. It’s not as easy as it looks. If it could have gone wrong, it did. In fact, at the end of filming, we weren’t sure we’d even have enough good video footage to produce something for our social channels. Here are a few things overhead during our journey into the culinary arts:

“The chocolate is seizing, the chocolate is seizing!”

“It’s burning!! Did you turn the stove off?”

“Oh no, we accidentally made caramel!”

To make your recipe video smooth and delicious, don’t do what what we did. Follow these five tips:

1. Practice First (we did not)

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After deciding on a recipe, be sure to whip it up a couple times before your video shoot. If you’re melting chocolate like we did, you’re definitely going to need a few takes to get it right. Don’t look too closely, you may see that we did not have enough gooey, melted marshmallows to pour over the popcorn. That’s because we accidentally burned a batch!

2. Create a Shot List (we did not)

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I wish we had created a shot list ahead of time. Instead, we worked off of the recipe. It would have saved us a lot of time and made the visual effect shots a little easier had we followed a better plan for the sequence of shots.

3. Have Extra Ingredients on Hand (we did not)

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Cut this. Add that. Cook it. Mix it. Ta-Da! How do they make it look so simple? Well, it’s not. No one told us we would burn it. Scorch it. Seize it. Trash it. After the chocolate seized and the marshmallow/butter mix turned into caramel, we barely had enough ingredients for the re-do.  Definitely have extra ingredients on hand just in case you need them. And you will.

4. Camera Tips, Like Staying in Focus (we were not)

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If you don’t have a professional set up, figuring out how to mount a DSLR camera for an overhead shot is a feat of its own. There are tripods with a center column tilt, but we don’t own one. But don’t worry, there are other ways to do it. Channel your inner MacGyver like we did (yes, we rigged ours with a bar stool and string). Once you’re set up, make sure you check your focus frequently. We made the mistake of focusing on the top of the mixing bowl, then everything at the bottom of the bowl was out of focus. We were able to flub this in editing by covering up some of the blurry shots with text. Also, make sure your camera has enough power and storage available for the shoot. Ours did not. And we had to deconstruct this rig halfway through to change the battery. Palm to face.

5. You’re Not Martha Stewart, and That’s OK

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The joy is in the journey, right? Right! Turns out, it’s absolutely possible to make a beautiful recipe video even without following any of the tips above. We did. But in retrospect, these tips, and a little extra planning would have helped us. So go for it. Find your inner Martha Stewart, cut yourself some slack and give a recipe video a shot. Because hey, if we can do it, so can you.

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Jen Smith

About Jen Smith

Third-generation Fort Collins native. Former Husker and pro softball player. Loves avocados, flip flops, cowboy boots, ice cream, playing the guitar, traveling, live music, dogs and DIY projects. Hates snakes. That’s it – just snakes. Well, snakes and math. Proudest social moment: CSU’s post for #LoveWins.