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Basic Video Shooting Tips

Friday, June 15th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Multimedia

Basic Video Shooting Tips

It’s a much loved pastime now. You know, picking up a video camera and shooting some footage albeit family videos or even an attempt at a movie script. The short movie industry has seen a proliferation of movies from kindred enthusiasts, as well as, them being hosted on sites like YouTube and Atom Films.

Whether it’s a family shoot, a college project or a short fictional movie, anyone can learn some very basic techniques to ensure a smoothly shot piece of video. Once you’ve shot your video, you’ll probably want to put it on the Web, but I’ll tackle that in another article. For today, my intention is to show you how to keep your video recording sharp. If the video is to be hosted online, some fine tuning during shooting is required. A little attention will ensure sharp detail and a great video clip for showing to friends, family or unsuspecting producers. Here we go!

  • Use a storyboard to plan the shots if it is a short fiction or non-fiction movie intended to promote your skills. There’s no need to be Picasso!

  • Absorb the surrounds initially by looking at the scene. If you need to pan suddenly, it causes blurry footage to be recorded. Where are the subjects being filmed? Is anything blocking the angle? Are you panning in front of a lamp post or a brick wall?

  • Avoid panning and zooming too much if the video is to be hosted online at YouTube, for example. The resulting video will carry some distortion even on faster broadband connections.

  • Use pans and zooms to introduce the filmed subjects, such as each family member or parts of a location. Avoid using them for dramatic effects.

  • Be aware of latency if you plan to host the video on the Web. Latency is the slow connection time due to data hitting a busy network while traveling from the server (where the video sits) to the PC. Motion blur will be very noticeable during this period.

  • Use lighting when shooting indoors. Don’t worry, you do not need to bug the home owner for any lighting equipment as you already have it in your home. A three minute movie I shot a few years ago looked very gloomy before I made the necessary lighting adjustments. This is extremely important when filming indoors. Use ceiling lamps (100 watts if possible) to shed some soft lighting on the room and head lamps to fill in light (in the same way as a camera flash) during the filming.

  • Avoid shooting against direct sunlight. Also, your footage will look burnt out if the background is white or if there is direct sunlight behind you when filming. The image recorded may also look smeared, so take notice of that.

  • If you are shooting a short fictional movie, avoid cluttering the background against your main character. This advice fairs well for family shoots too, particularly if you are standing at a distance or you are in a very busy restaurant, for example.

  • Try to focus on the main subject, such as the married couple or birthday boy as much as possible. Don’t be concerned with depth of field (objects that are in focus between the camera lens and most distant objects). Just ensure the main subject is crisp. Badly focused shots will look terrible across a broadband connection.

  • Use a tripod if camera shake is inevitable and the subjects being filmed are stationary. If you are mobile (walking around an exotic location, for instance), press the camera firmly against your shoulder.

Now, preparing video for the Web requires compression and as I said earlier, I will cover that in another article. For this article, I hope I have helped to offer up some useful tips on shooting video for the Web. Filming invites great enjoyment and even more of a buzz when you can showcase the movie to friends and family over the Internet. Most importantly, have fun with it!

~ Stephen Davies

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