Life in a Day 2020: filming day and requirements for YouTube's crowd-sourced documentary

Life in a Day 2020
(Image credit: YouTube)

Life isn't very typical at the moment, and that's undoubtedly going to make it even more fascinating to watch YouTube's Life in a Day 2020, a unique crowd-sourced documentary from two world-famous directors.

Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald want your footage in an effort to spin it into a movie that acts as a time capsule of sorts for a single day in 2020. That day just happens to be today, Saturday, June 25, 2020.

If this sounds familiar, Scott and Macdonald teamed up to do this back in 2010 and the movie premiered as Life in a Day at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Eventually, the movie came to YouTube for streaming in 2011.

What do you need to participate in Life in a Day 2020? What are YouTube's strict filming requirements? And where can you find that crucial model release form? We have all of the answers below.

Life in a Day filming requirements

Life in a Day does have some rules, so it's best to begin there before diving into what type of camera is best. YouTube says that submissions are open from Saturday, July 25 to Sunday, August 2. Meaning, from the time you put down the camera tonight, you have one week to edit and submit your Life in a Day footage.

This doesn't mean your footage will be used, of course. It'll be reviewed by a team of editors and they may contact you later in the year. At its worst, you'll end up with a 24-hour slice of your life saved to a memory card for your own project purposes.

To increase your chances of getting your story told, the official Life in a Day website suggests answering these questions yourself – or have whomever you're filming answer them.

  • What do you love?
  • What do you fear?
  • What would you like to change? Either about the world, or your own life.
  • What’s in your pocket?

Above all else, YouTube is emphasizing that you make this story personal. No, this isn't going to be a Covid-19 documentary, according to Macdonald, but that's almost certainly going to big play a part in the final movie.

Life in a Day release form and permissions

You'll need filming permission in some cases, for both subjects and locations. The latter is easier to pull off, but it's all very dependent on regional laws. Generally, it's okay to shoot in public places with a camera, but owners of private establishments may need to know that you're going to capture footage in advance and explicitly filming trademarks, like a Coke can, is a no go. 

YouTube also provides a link to a handy model release form, which you can print out or download to have someone sign. Any identifiable "characters" in your story (no matter how small their role is) should sign this appearances release form.

Final note here, and this is written in all caps on YouTube's site: Do not film any children without seeking permission first.

Camera settings for Life in a Day 2020

YouTube also wants raw footage – in other words, avoid special effects, filters and stickers, and don't include music in the background or as a track. The rules don't state this explicitly, but it sounds like an obvious copyright concern.

The best camera settings are 4K at 24fps, but it's not a strict filming requirement for Life in a Day 2020, just a weighted suggestion. Alternatively, 1080p is fine and if your camera can't shoot 24fps, then 30fps is okay, too.

Life in a Day 2020 trailer

This isn't the final trailer for Life in a Day 2020, but it appears as if YouTube has shot some footage in advance to give people an idea of what the end product will look like. It also has Kevin Macdonald and Ridley Scott telling you what we have already told you here.

Life in a Day 2010 trailer

For a dated, but even better idea of what the final trailer for the 2020 Life in a Day will look like, here's a look back video for Life in a Day 2010 (which came out in 2011). 

Life in a Day camera suggestions

What's funny about looking back at the original Life in a Day is that the camera tech looks so old in spots in spots where smartphones are used (it's very obvious). Many people were carrying around the iPhone 3GS or older at the time. The iPhone 4G launched the day after the filming date ten years ago.

Good news: you can use pretty much any camera, including your smartphone, which is way more powerful than the devices from a decade ago. In 2020, we're using the iPhone 11 Pro, and on the cusp of getting the iPhone 12. Most phones have options for 4K. 

Here are some suggestions, in case you want to step things up.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

Canon EOS M6 Mark II
One of the new Canon M series cameras, this mirrorless with a flip-up screen makes vlogging and documentary filmmaking a cinch. The Canon M50 was also good, but this model has uncropped 4K with DualPixel auto-focus, and it's slightly smaller with the lack of a built-in viewfinder.

Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1
Sony's reworked the the RX100 VII for video, and it's been enough of a showstopper to dethrone Canon G7 X Mark III as our best compact vlogging camera pick. Despite its pocketable size and dated micro USB port, it packs real-time tracking and Eye AF in addition to a bright 24-70mm lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
Olympus is exiting the camera business, but it still holds the top spot in our best vlogging camera guide simply because the specs are amazing for its size. What makes it better than the Sony? Mainly, the image built into this Micro Four Thirds camera.

Matt Swider