There’s nothing eventful about silent vlogs —no shocking plot twists, no riveting action scenes. The person making the vlog isn’t travelling somewhere exotic; in fact, they’re mostly just at home doing the very same thing we do each day — putting off the alarm clock, making breakfast, dressing up, working, having lunch, eating dinner and finally tucking ourselves into bed. And yet, this seemingly mundane type of content has captured the attention of millions.
How exactly do vlogs about nothing become so popular? The answer can be easily found in the comments section where many share how silent vlogs have calmed their anxieties and offered them respite from the tumultuous reality we’re facing now. There’s just something so comforting about following a predictable routine — even if it’s someone else’s.
But as we watch these serene videos, we begin to wonder how these silent vlogs are made. Are they as spontaneous as we think they are? How do silent vloggers make each frame “so aesthetic”? Why don’t they show their faces? Silent vloggers Rhea Y., Kael Conciso, Marilyn Yee, and Ana Olivas give us a peek at what it’s like to make silent videos.
On why they don’t talk nor show their faces
Silent vlogs offer the best of both worlds. You get to capture and share snippets of your day-to-day life online while still enjoying privacy. “I want to record and share what my life is like in Japan because daily life often fades from memory, but I’m worried about my privacy. Outside of YouTube, I’m still an ordinary girl living a simple life,” said Rhea Y., who moved to Japan from the Philippines. Even with her YouTube channel gaining millions of views, details of her personal life remain private, something that would have been unthinkable for vloggers a few years ago.
Aside from privacy, silent vlogs also offer comfort for vloggers who are camera-shy. Rhea shared that she once tried to do a talking vlog but she was less than satisfied with the output and was uncomfortable throughout. “My voice and accent are not great, and I used English words that I didn’t know were rude to use. So I decided not to force myself to talk if I didn’t like it or not comfortable with it,” she said. Filipino vlogger Kael Conciso feels the same. “In real life, I am socially awkward and tend to talk a lot when I panic. But through these silent vlogs, I do not feel overwhelmed sharing something personal to the viewers.”
Not having to always think about what you’re wearing and how you look is another advantage of silent vlogging. “It's less about my face and how I look, and more about what I do, how I feel, what I see, what I hear. I don't have to look good for the camera, I just have to capture what's before my eyes,” shared Singaporean vlogger Marilyn Yee.
There’s also the perk of having the freedom to express your thoughts in the way you want to without pressure. “I'm not the most eloquent person when speaking about ordinary things. It was so stressful to think about what you’re going to say in front of the camera. At the moment of filming it feels senseless to me to just point out things like, ‘Okay, there’s my dinner’. But during editing, I get to add in my after-thoughts, like how I prepared the food and so on,” Ana Olivas said.
For these silent vloggers, concealing their appearance allows them to reveal more of themselves.
How they make everything “so aesthetic”
It’s undeniable that the appeal of silent vlogs has a lot to do with aesthetics. We watch them partly because they feel like a peek at how our life and home could look if we put in the effort to decorate and arrange our house. Silent vlogs may not be as showy as mansion tours or haul videos, but they are still aspirational aesthetic-wise. So how do they make daily life look so pretty?
You’d be surprised at how simple their creative process is. Because they strip away things that could make a vlogger feel camera-conscious, silent vlogs are not rehearsed and actually (mostly) spontaneous. “I don’t really arrange things to make them look more aesthetically pleasing; they’re just the way they are when I film. All I do is find the right angle to capture a shot in the best way,” Ana said.
Kael even shared that silent vlogging made her embrace spontaneity as someone who loves planning. “I hate it when things don't go the way I wanted them to. However, when I decided to start silent vlogging, it made me realise that sometimes being spontaneous is a good thing; I was able to find happiness in small things. And it helps me know myself even more,” she said. “If you have seen my videos, you will notice that they are just simple, because it is basically what really happens in my life. I want to make it as natural as possible.”
However, a video outline sometimes also helps as a guide. “I think it’s also great to have a video outline because it serves as a map to create good quality and entertaining videos,” Rhea said.
Even in editing their videos, these silent vloggers use basic software and techniques. “90% of my videos are edited using my phone. My edits are also basic and easy to learn,” Rhea said.
However, there are two things silent vloggers pay particular attention to during the editing process: audio and subtitles. “When editing, I always start with the music. I think the music really sets the mood of what I want to express or how I'm feeling that week, and I just edit whatever footage I captured along with the music,” Marilyn said. “Subtitles are also important in silent vlogging, because we don't speak too much so the subtitles play a big role to keep the audience engaged in your activity or thought process.”
On getting over the awkwardness of filming outside
Although silent vloggers don’t have to show their faces, they still deal with the awkwardness of lugging around a camera while going about outside. “Even if I am not talking in front of a camera, when I bring my mini tripod outside, people start to look at me. However, as time went by, I eventually got used to it. I just think to myself that these people will never see me again anyway so might as well just do what I enjoy doing,” Kael said.
For Rhea, you just have to be a little more self-assured. “We are too scared and overthink about what others might think or say about us. My tip is to let go of what others think about you. Just be yourself and do what you want as long as you’re not hurting someone,” she said.
But remember to also be considerate. “It kind of feels intrusive to others. So I’m very careful as someone can get angry when they see someone filming nearby,” Ana said. “When I'm filming outside, like in a grocery store, I try to be subtle like I put the camera on the pushcart."
It also helps to assure your friends and family of their privacy. “I always tell them I won't show their face, or edit out any sensitive conversations, so they can still feel comfortable even with the camera. Because I try to keep the flow very natural, I never use a tripod and can film and keep my camera really fast and move on,” Marilyn said.
On their gear
Unlike travel and ASMR vloggers who need special recording equipment and lighting, these silent vloggers reveal that they just use a camera. Here’s their gear for silent vlogging.
Rhea: I’ve been using the iPhone X camera since I started. Then, I added a Sony Camera ZV1 to improve my videos. Actually, even if I added the Sony camera ZV1 to my gear, I still prefer using the iPhone X because it’s easier to use, lightweight and I can directly edit on my Phone. The camera quality is also great at 4K 30fps.
Kael: A lot of vloggers recommended to use what you have and what you are comfortable with. That is why I decided to just use my iPhone X and Fujifilm X-A3. However, I plan on investing in a point and shoot camera that I can easily bring anywhere with me.
Marilyn: I mostly use the Canon G7x. The quality is sharp. It's also really unassuming and not too intimidating when you're outdoors. What I like about the Canon is its internal stabilising feature, so even when you handhold while filming it doesn't show so much of the "hand shake".
Ana: For camera, I use the oldie but goodie Canon EOS M3 which I got as a graduation gift from my parents with Meike 35mm f/1.7 Manual Prime and sometimes Canon 50mm f/1.8 Prime. They work well but I'm thinking of switching to Sony A7R series.
Silent vlogging and beyond