If you think your dog could be a YouTube star, let them show the world what they’ve got with point-of-view footage. Shooting the world from a dog’s level has come a long way since the original Beggin’ Strips commercials. Thanks to products such as the GoPro Fetch mount, you can actually attach a camera to your pooch without making viewers motion sick.
But just strapping a GoPro to Fido isn’t going to make him the next internet sensation. At this point, there’s no shortage of animal videos on the web. This means that if you want your pet to go viral — or at least entertain family and friends — a shaky clip of him rolling over, sniffing crotches, or failing to catch food isn’t going to cut it. “A dog video either needs to have the dog doing something cute or something funny. You either need to go for the ‘aww’ or for the laugh,” says Kyle Goguen, founder of Pawstruck.com, a high-end treat company that uses viral pet videos for all its marketing.
And if you do get that funny moment, it can pay off. Although reports that Grumpy Cat earned more than $100 million last year turned out to be bogus, the internet-famous feline does have his own agent and a Lifetime TV deal. You probably shouldn’t quit your day job, but if you follow these six tips, you could make your next dog POV video go viral.
Pick Your Subject
All dogs are adorable and do funny things, but Goguen says certain breeds really have traction on the internet. “Pugs, corgis, French bulldogs, and bulldogs are inherently funny. It’s almost like golden retrievers are too coordinated,” he says. However, he adds puppies of any breed always do well, and the tinier they are, the better.
Consider the Best Camera Mount
The GoPro Fetch harness offers both back and chest mounts for the camera. Steve Swift, the founder of Petception, a company that lets owners watch their pets remotely from a POV cam, says to opt for the chest mount. “The back mount looks like the view of a flea riding along,” he says. The chest mount gives you a better view of exactly what the dog is seeing. Also, make sure the harness fits snuggly. You don’t, however, want the mount so tight that it’s rubbing or hurting your pooch. Ideally, the harness should be made from an elastic material so it can be secure but forgiving at the same time.
Plan Your Video
You might think it’s cool to film your dog trotting a 5K with you, but no one cares. Instead, you need to film something exciting, unique, and most importantly, short. Swift has uploaded a series of dog POV films to Petception’s social media streams, and those that are truly different — like footage from a working sheepdog — tend to get the most shares. Plus, think about the video’s structure. In POV videos, you sometimes never get a shot of what the dog looks like, which is too bad, because he or she is the star. Consider starting with a few shots of your pooch, then moving on to the POV part of the film.
Before you press record, take one last moment to look at how your camera is placed. If you’re shooting vertically, don’t. “It makes it really hard to use those videos on YouTube. You end up having to zoom in really far which hurts the quality,” Goguen says. If the point is to put the video onto the internet, always shoot horizontally. If you have access to editing software, let the camera roll for a while — you might capture something unexpectedly better. If not, keep the clip tight. Ask the dog to do whatever it is you’re planning, and then hit stop as fast as possible. And consider what will be in the frame. Because this is POV-style video, your dog won’t take up but just a small part of the screen. Look around to see what will be in the shot. If it’s not photogenic, film elsewhere.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Films should be short, concise, and transition cleanly from shot to shot. If your goal is to go viral, you should edit the whole video down to less than one minute. “Very few videos can go beyond that and be engaging,” Goguen says. Sound is important, too. If you have wind noise in the background, mute the audio and just add music. “Well-timed funny music or sounds can really add to a video,” Goguen says. With a little time on Google, it’s fairly easy to find free music to use alongside your film, Swift says. Prepare to spend quite a bit of time on this step. Swift says it often takes him two to three hours to edit the footage to perfection.
Optimize the Upload
“What tags we use really matters,” Swift says about getting his videos noticed on YouTube. Meta tags tell a search engine what your video is about. Because people often type in keyword terms when searching, tagging videos with descriptive words, like “dog video” or “dog surfing,” can help your content get found. “On YouTube you also want a title that’s descriptive and clear,” Goguen says. So name your surfing dog video “Dog POV Surf Video,” not “Murphy Hanging 10 Paws At The Beach.” Upload and then share, share, and share it again. Both Goguen and Swift say the internet is a tricky place, where one thing can be a smash success and another buried in an hour by other uploaded content. If no one retweets your video the first time, try again.