Have you ever wanted to break into the videography side of the industry or simply need to brush up your video skills? Bethany with Bethany Cleg Photography has a list of basic video shooting tips that will help get you off to the right start!
There are basic video skills and facts that can help you shoot better video no matter what the scope of your project is. Shooting great videos is not a skill that you can learn overnight; it is something that takes practice. But, use these basic video shooting tips as you practice and you will be churning out professional looking videos faster than you might expect.
Use High-End Devices
Video is one of those areas where you really do get what you pay for in terms of equipment. And although you don’t have to have a 500k video camera to make a good video, a decent DSLR camera is going to make all the difference in the world.
Even more important than the camera, is the lenses. Lenses affect your image quality more than the actual camera.
But before you drop any money on gear, always try before you buy. Also, there is some equipment you simply don’t need to own, you may just need to use for one particular idea or scene. I use this video camera hire site all the time (“hire” meaning rental in Australia), for those of you in the U.S. the National Camera Exchange can ship gear to your door, or find a local camera shop that rents gear.
This will allow you to rent a high-end device for just a fraction of the cost of buying it. In particular, I like to rent cameras that shoot in a really high frame rate for shots that I want good slow-motion in. Usually, its just one or two shots and I may only need to rent the camera for a few hours. It is surprisingly affordable for those who have never rented before.
Secondly, if you are in the market to purchase a piece of gear, instead of basing your decision completely on reviews and other customer experiences, simply rent the camera for the day and see for yourself before you decide whether or not you want to purchase. Not only are you going to be making better buying decisions but you will also be improving your knowledge and skills at the same time.
Plan Out Your Shoot
Don’t just start shooting a video; you need to plan out the scene. Your backdrop, framing and focus all help tell the story you are trying to convey on the screen. Even if you are just videotaping a wedding, you are telling a “story” to the people who will watch it later. Before you start shooting, scan the room and think about what will look good visually. Think about how the different shots will come together. Do you best to visualize the “flow” of your video beforehand.
This seems like “common sense” which it is, but even knowing this I can’t tell you how many times I have just “gone out and shot” with no planning…. but then later when I’m editing, I end up banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what to do with all the footage.
Shoot from Different Vantage Points
It is always a good idea to shoot from as many different vantage points as you can; when you’re editing the film later on, you’ll be able to put the different shots together in a way that lends to a more interesting (and perhaps more dramatic) finished product. Even just kneeling down or standing on a chair can give you a different enough angle.
If your subjects and schedule permit, shoot everything from at least far, medium and close perspectives. This is sorta the “standard” hollywood method. “Far” means you can see the subjects whole body, “medium” is the waist and above and “close” means from the neck above.
Roll the Tape Before Shooting
It might sound odd, but you should roll about 30 seconds of tape before you ever start shooting. The same can be said for digital devices as well. Obviously, there isn’t “tape” to let play, but you can still let the device shoot for a few seconds before starting. One way to do this is to leave the lens cap on until you are ready to start filming. Doing this will avoid the crinkles in audio that typically happen when a device starts recording. Some cameras even come with a color bar setting that will display colored bars at the start of a video. Check your camera settings to see if such a feature is present.
Always Check Your Audio Feed
When you know you are going to be shooting video, bring a pair of headphones with you. This way you can plug up the headphones to the camera to make sure you are getting an audio feed. If you are getting a feed, you can use the headphones to check the quality of the feed. Nothing is worse than shooting the perfect video only to find out later that the audio was not working or that it was poor quality.
Go Easy on the Special Effects
Special effects are fun to use, but when you’re actually shooting, it’s better to opt out on shooting in black and white or on a faster setting. There are so many fun special effects settings that might seem appealing, but there are after-shooting special effects that you can easily apply, and you’ll still have the original footage to go back to if you need it.
Avoid Zooming and Panning Too Soon
There is nothing that will make an audience feel sicker than panning or zooming too much. That is why it’s important to hold a shot for a few seconds before zooming in or panning out. The general rule of thumb is to allow 15 seconds before you pan or zoom. This doesn’t mean to count to 15 as quick as you can. Try using the “Mississippi” method: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi and so on. This will improve the quality of your videos, and your audience will thank you for it later.