Thursday, 29 December 2011

7 Easy Steps to Shooting Great Videos

Many people are so intimidated by their video camera that they rarely use it! With just a few steps, you too can be a great shooter of your family films.

1. Know Your Camera

While you don't need to know every last feature of your camera, you should know the basics of how to use it. Some cameras now offer an "Easy Button" where everything is automatic. This can be wonderful for many filming situations. For times when you don't want your camera's focus to constantly change during an interview, for example, do a few test runs before using the manual focus button.

2. Know Why You're Filming

Before you turn your camera on, think about what you're about to film. What is it that you want people to take away from your shots? What do you want them to remember? Is it the actions in the shot? Or what someone is thinking or feeling at the time? If it's a long action shot (say a school play), consider investing in a tripod for a steady long shot (and a thankful right arm!) If it's a personal interview, consider investing in a better microphone.

3. Establish Yourself

Once you've figured out your main objective of the shoot, you want to take a hint from the pro's and make sure you get an establishing shot, ideally at the start of filming. An establishing shot simply establishes where the filming is taking place or identifies without words what you are filming. This could mean a wide shot including as much or all of the action in the shot as possible. For the school play example, it could be a shot of the entire stage. Or perhaps a quick shot of the front of the school or a sign naming the play. Once you've established for your audience "where" you are, you can then vary your shots with closer-in shots (called medium and close-up shots.)

4. Let The Action Tell The Story

Too often, people think they have to do more with their camera to make their home movies interesting. This often means that pesky zoom button is in constant use! Not only does this lower your production value, it leaves your audience feeling a bit seasick. Instead, try to use your zoom button only to change shots (from say establishing to close-up) and then let what's happening in the shot play out. Your audience will definitely thank you!

5. It's All About the Lighting

Have you ever noticed how your home movies shot outdoors look beautiful and the ones inside look noisy or grainy? This is because natural light (sunlight) is much stronger than tungsten (indoor light) and most consumer video cameras require a great deal of light to make a beautiful picture. Therefore, when indoors, these cameras will do something called auto gain which creates additional "artificial" light but also adds grain to your picture. So remember--when shooting indoors, use as much available light as possible, and make sure that available sunlight is in the right place--to the front or side of your subject to light up their face--not behind them where they will be in silhouette.

6. Sound Is A Beautiful Thing

Hearing someone's voice is equally as important, and sometimes more so, than seeing their face. So know your camera and its microphone capabilities. If you are sitting in the back row of the school play and are just using an internal microphone on your camera, don't expect to hear your daughter's lines clearly. Do some tests ahead of time to evaluate if your filming situation requires a different or additional kind of microphone.

7. Be Prepared

The most important thing you can do is make sure you have lots of blank tape (or drive space) and several charged batteries! Without them, all of the above is meaningless. So take the time to be prepared for your shoot.
DMB Pictures is a boutique video production company specializing in producing broadcast-quality personal stories for families, non-profits and small businesses. The company opened its doors in January 2006 led by Debbie Mintz Brodsky, a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with more than 20 years of experience.
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