Six tips for improving your next video

July 14, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

There are thousands, of tips and tricks to filming a video. You can even spend years in school studying cinematography. So rather than try to cram years of study into one blog post, I’m put together six tips that give you a solid foundation for your video.

Tip 1: Steady your Shot

An obvious sign of someone who is new to video is a jumpy, shaky, or uneven shot. Even those action movies with chase scenes mount cameras to dollies and the unsteady shots are deliberate. If you’re interviewing a customer about a solution and the camera is shaking, it will be difficult to watch.

A tripod is one obvious way to fix this. By mounting your camera on a tripod, the shot will remain steady – just make sure your shot is level. You can also use the “human tripod” or other Handheld techniques when you dont have a tripod.

Tip 2: Limit Panning

Another telltale sign of an amateur videographer is the heavy use of panning or zooming in and out very quickly. Not only is excessive panning distracting, it makes your video feel like a rollercoaster ride to your viewers. 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pan at all. But the best way to pan is to do so slowly, hold the shot once you’ve zoomed in, and then slowly zoom out or cut away. Panning is a great tool to emphasize what a speaker is saying, especially if it’s something dramatic or important. If you’re brand new to video, your best option when first starting out is to keep a steady shot with little or no panning.

Tip 3: Camera Angle

You have probably seen innovative camera angles used — shooting upward to indicate power, shooting down to show someone being overpowered or insignificant. These artistic styles can work at times.

But rather than trying to be too artistic, put the camera at eye level, capturing the subject’s head and shoulders. If you want to provide some visual intrigue, you can create a set that’s interesting and frame your shot so that the subject is slightly to the right or left. (Granted you provide enough “look space,” that is, space in the direction where they’re looking. So if a subject is looking to the right, have them positioned in the left of the shot.)

Rather than shooting directly in front of the subject, turn them slightly to be at three-quarter view.There is certainly the time and place for a subject to look directly into the camera, but more often than not, a subject is at this three-quarter angle.

Tip 4: Rule of Thirds - Framing your Shot

When you’re framing a shot, think of dividing your shot into thirds. Grab a photo or get your camera and look through the viewfinder, then draw two lines — real or imaginary — across the horizontal axis and two on the vertical. This will split your shot into a tic-tac-toe array.

The rule of thirds can be thought of as the rule of what’s visually interesting and appealing to the viewer. According to Wikipedia, “The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section.

The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.” 

Tip 5: Always Capture extra Footage

If you captured your video take in one take, congrats! But before you walk away patting yourself on the back, be sure to try it once more, perhaps from a different angle, in a different setting, or ask your subject rephrase. In many cases, what I thought was the perfect video was marred by background noise that I didn’t notice, a funny look from the subject, a wayward glance – it’s amazing how many small things you don’t notice. So capture extra footage and if you don’t need it, you can delete it. It’s always good to have extra video to work with, just in case.

While you’re at it, be sure to also get some “b-roll” which is secondary footage that you can use for the introduction or as voiceover footage that plays while a subject is explaining something.

Tip 6: Quality Audio

One of the biggest audio mistakes beginning videographers make is trying to film someone speaking from across a room when there's no way to clearly hear their audio. Background noise, room echoes, and outdoor sounds can all contribute to poor quality here. Audio is one of the few places where corners can't be cut. Bad sound can ruin an otherwise brilliant video, so don't rely on the on-board microphone. Use external microphones or a digital recorder to capture the high quality sound you need.

Here are some good Microphone options.

Digital recorder  - Something like the Samson Zoom H6 or the Tascam DR-60D with XLR connections. 

Lavalier or a "Lav" - Take a look at the  Shure SM93 Lavalier Microphone or  a wireless unit like Sennheiser ew 100 ENG G3 Wireless Microphone System Be careful when you attach it to your subject and position it to avoid any unnecessary noise coming from hair or jewelry rubbing up against it.

Shotgun - A good option for shooting on the go look at a Microphone like the Rode VMGO or the Rode VideoMic Pro R

Using your iPhone for your Video? There are great audio options for your mobile phone Audio as well.

Photojojo's Mighty Mic, Blue's Mikey Digital , and the Zoom iQ6; the first is designed for shooting on the go, while the latter two are more for single-room recordings and music captures.

In the wired lavalier section, you've got the Movo PM10  and the Rode smartLav+

Pay attention to close attention to your audio. Start by letting your ears do more of the work.

Every room and situation has its own sound.


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