Commentary Pointers?


#1

I’m still very new to Let’s Playing, and looking through my videos, I feel like commentary is a major weak link of mine. I’m noticing a ton of lengthy, awkward pauses and talking in circles without saying much of anything. I’ve never been a particularly skilled public speaker, but it’s still kind of discouraging to notice how much I struggle when I’m trying to come up with things to say during a recording.

Honestly, I wonder how so many of you manage to do commentary so naturally. I wish that I could figure out how to bring that same sort of free-flowing dialogue to my videos instead of sounding so stilted and unsure all the time.

I wanted to ask how you all handle doing commentary in your videos, and how you keep from having dead air and lacking charisma in the final product.


#2

Probably the easiest thing to do is to make the final product not the first product. Sometimes, I get so far into a video and realize that my commentary hasn’t been very good, so I stop to think about what I need to improve, scrap the recording, and start again. Most of the time, it takes a failed take to tell me what I should be saying at a given time.


#3

I appreciate the advice, and I admit that I often realize that my commentary hasn’t been great so far mid-recording.

However, that leads into an issue with my current LP, which is a game that auto-saves after each level and only has one save slot, so I can’t really scrap a recording once I’ve finished a level.

Would you suggest practicing speaking for a while before recording to make myself more comfortable with it?


#4

Warming up is often necessary for using your voice a long period of time in any context. Better for both the voice and the mind.
Also for a lot of us, commentating doesn’t come naturally. It’s a skill developed over time. Many of us also do post-commentary, not commentating at the same time as recording the game. Have you tried doing that, so you already know ahead of time what’s going to happen?


#5

Sometimes making notes help if your doing solo commentary. Make yourself notes to see what points you want to convey during your commentary to your audience. Also imagine your talking to a friend and explaining to them what your thoughts are.

Another note is to really find your own style of doing things. Find a way where your comfortable and happy with your end product.


#6

This. A thousand times this.

Get your footage, edit it to show only you want to show and from that, have at the very least a general idea of what you want to say and when it wants to be said. If the thing that isn’t working out is your commentary and not the footage you’re working with, you still have footage to talk over when you try again.

Co-commentators are also good, if you can keep enough control over the conversation to say all those important things.


#7

Agreed. Having another person to play off of is also a great way to make your commentary more smooth and natural.


#8

With co-commentators its literally just a regular conversation with your friends where you try and see what innocuous kingdom hearts thing will get one of them to make a vore joke.

Solo commentary is impossible for me, and I cannot do it to save my life. I get very self conscious talking to nobody.


#9

I considered doing post-commentary, and while I like the idea of having multiple chances to get a commentary track that I like, I was worried that recording when I already know what’s going to happen would take the spontaneity out of it and make the emotion in the commentary less effective.

I already edited my next video together, but after that I think that I’ll try doing post-commentary for a few episodes and see how I like it.

And while I would like to try co-commentary at some point, I don’t really have many connections that I think I could go to in that regard to try it, at least not yet.


#10

If the game auto-saves it’s a bit tricky, but the game has to store the save files somewhere. Do a bit of Googling to find out where the saves are kept, make a backup folder for saves, copy your save in at the start of the recording session, and if you don’t like how you were going you can quit the game and restore the save.


#11

The joy of post-commentary is that if you don’t like the way it sounds, you do it again. My schedule usually means I don’t record commentary until at least a few days after editing the video, so I generally don’t really remember what I did all that well. It’s not as hard as it seems to fake surprise if that’s what the video calls for, and in the worst case, you can re-record just part of the audio track.


#12

Yet being the key word there. This is where you can easily do some networking and get yourself some people who you can co-commentate with. It’s also a nice way to make friends through your networking since we all have the same shared interests of games.


#13

I myself have been having the same problem with commentating by myself, so when I stream I have been having a friend come into chat if he is not busy and just have him talk in chat to help me feel more comfortable then just talking to myself


#14

I’VE BEEN ATTACKED! :siren::gonk::siren:

In all seriousness though, this thread has been filled with great advice, but the thing I want to reiterate the most is practice practice practice. Commentary is a skill like any other, the more you do it the better you will get. Looking at the backlog of any big youtuber now you can see their voice evolve.

And yeah, don’t be afraid to scrap an episode you’re not feeling confident about. Better to do a second take rather than use something you feel is subpar.


#15

Of course, if you’re like me, this can lead to a situation where you’re never happy with the take and keep redoing the commentary over and over again until you regret ever getting into LPs. Nowadays, I tend to use the first take unless I completely lose my train of thought or start talking total nonsense (more so than usual) because otherwise I’ll never get anything done.

I also agree that co-commentary feels a lot more natural than talking to myself, although most of my videos are still solo commentary. It’s been a couple of years since I last did a VLP and I’m still getting used to doing voiced commentary again, but maybe by the end of my current LP I won’t sound like I’m massively bored and/or mentally impaired in some way. I wish I had a cool accent instead of a Finnish one.


#16

I’d add that you shouldn’t feel like you need to scrap the entire commentary if it works for the most part. I go back and re-record a section or record some new information where there was a lot of dead air all the time.


#17

A little bit of dead air also isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, so you shouldn’t feel like you absolutely need to be talking for every second of the video. It’s good to let the game breathe on occasion.

For example, I’m doing Yakuza now, and there isn’t always a whole lot to say about random street thug fight #283. So, instead of trying to force commentary for the sake of having commentary, I like to just shut up for a brief moment and let Kazuma Kiryu’s fists do the talking until something worth mentioning happens or I think of something else I want to talk about.