The Top 12 Tips for Shooting Great Video
Modern video cameras are becoming more and more sophisticated so you will need to decide which features to use to get the best effect for your video. Handheld cameras are great for getting started but once you start looking at going professional it pays to invest in a top-quality camera that offers multiple settings and stunning 4K footage. You may even consider investing in a drone to get sensational aerial shots or an action cam for first-person adventure footage.
Whatever you want to film the key to excellence is plenty of practice – we've put together 12 great tips for improving the quality and professionalism of your shots.
Top tips for Technique
1. Don’t overuse your zoom
Constantly zooming in and out often looks unprofessional and is deeply unpleasant to watch. Zooming must be slow, steady and used sparingly. If you can use optical zoom over digital, this will provide a much higher quality final result.
2. Pay attention with your framing
Make sure that you frame your shots to provide the best and most interesting viewpoint. Looking at placing the subject off-center will make the film more engaging than simply filling the screen or constantly centering the shot on the subject.
3. Don’t overuse wide shots
Using a wide shot to get a good view of the location is essential but once that is established just use some of the key features of the area. For example, if you are on a windswept beach focusing on the grass on the dunes, or on the surf can be just as evocative as a full shot of the area.
4. Change your vantage point
Standing in one place is going to make for a very dull movie! Make sure you move around, take the shot from different angles and locations. Kneeling down or climbing to a higher point can vary the view and can also mean that the key moments stand out much more dramatically in the final cut.
5. Ban back-lighting
Avoid bright backlit scenes unless you are looking for a cool shadow effect. Some smartphones and cameras have settings to modify the negative effects of back-lighting. If you don’t this feature you may end up with a haloed silhouette rather than the dramatic image you were aiming for. Cameras have improved a lot but they are still not as good as the human eye. Your lens won't pick up a facial expression or physical features so remember to move the light slightly off-center to get the best effect.
7. Record in the right format
If you are going to show your footage on widescreen then make sure your record in 16:9 so your footage is not stretched. If you own an HDTV choose a camcorder that offers this function. If you are filming for someone who uses older technology then you can always choose the standard settings.
8. Limit special effects
Although you have the opportunity to use sepia, soft focus or solar flare, these should be used sparingly and avoided during important scenes. If you decide later that you wish you had used black and white footage or want to add an effect you can do so by using one of the many editing programs available. If you are recording an important event like a wedding be sure to use color footage and add any special effects you want later on. This way if any effect really doesn’t work you can revert back to the original recording.
9. Use a tripod
If you want to avoid any kind of shaky shots you will need to use a tripod. This is essential even with modern camcorders that come with in-camera stabilization. If you film from a flat, stable surface you can help avoid any of those awful ‘home movie’ style wobbles but ultimately a tripod is your best friend. Most modern tripods are light, portable and they are a cost effective way of upping your filming game.
10. Never run out of storage!
Whether you are using SD cards, tapes or discs, running out of storage in the middle of filming can be a real pain. If you are traveling overseas it is not always possible to get hold of the right sort of media when you arrive, so take whatever you will need with you if you can. Switching to LP mode means that you can save on the use of space, however, it will reduce image quality. Using LP mode can still save the day if something overruns and you want to grab those last few moments of filming time.
11. Carry a spare battery
Just like running out of storage, a battery failing at an inopportune moment can ruin your finished movie. Make sure you keep a few batteries on hand and consider investing a little more for those that offer extra recording times.
12. Always back up your movies
Although you can store your film on disc or tape these can easily be damaged or even destroyed. To avoid losing precious footage back up your video on the cloud or on an external hard drive. Remember too that uncompressed video will use a lot of hard drive space which makes your computer hard drive more likely to fail. It's not worth the risk of losing all that wonderful footage, so back up your videos as soon as you can.