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Videography Tips

Half the battle of starting any new project is knowing where to begin. From helpful tips for shooting better video and recording great audio, to video production checklists and talent release forms, our videography tips will give you the jump start you need to begin your new video hobby or career.

The Seven Deadly Camcorder Sins

  1. Headhunting--placing every subject in the center of your frame.
  2. Motorzooming--overuse of on-screen zooms.
  3. Rooting--staying in one spot instead of looking for interesting angles.
  4. Firehosing--panning all over the scene.
  5. Upstanding--shooting everything from standing eye-level.
  6. Snapshooting--taping only two or three seconds per shot.
  7. Backlighting--too much light falling on the background instead of on the subject.

Getting Started: The Seven Deadly Camera Sins
View the video

Twelve Helpful Tips for Shooting Great Video

  1. Use manual focus if your camcorder has it.
  2. Set white balance at every location.
  3. When shooting outdoors, keep the sun behind you.
  4. Plan your shoot.
  5. Use a tripod or other image stabilization device.
  6. For handheld stability, imagine that your camcorder is a very full cup of hot coffee.
  7. Use the zoom to compose your shot. Avoid zooming while the tape is rolling.
  8. Move the camcorder only when necessary.
  9. Shoot to edit.
  10. Keep your average shot length between 5 and 10 seconds.
  11. Keep the shot steady (no zoom or pan) for at least 10 seconds.
  12. While shooting, be as inconspicuous as possible to best capture the true behavior of your subject.

Ten Helpful Tips for Recording Great Audio

  1. Use an external microphone if you have one.
  2. Get the microphone close to the talent.
  3. Listen through headphones while you shoot.
  4. Keep hand movements on the camcorder to a minimum.
  5. Use a handheld mike for man-on-the-street interviews.
  6. Use a lavalier or boom mike for studio settings.
  7. Use a wireless mike to avoid cable hassles.
  8. Keep audio in mind when scouting locations.
  9. Don't move mike cables while recording.
  10. Avoid long cable runs to minimize interference.

Preparation Tips

  1. Set a goal to include yourself on videotape for 1 minute for every _______ minutes that you shoot of others.
  2. Store your camcorder in a visible location if possible with blank tape and charged batteries handy.

Packing Checklist

  1. Camcorder
  2. Charged batteries
  3. AC power supply
  4. Microphone batteries
  5. Microphones
  6. Lens cap
  7. Cables
  8. Lens cleaning cloth
  9. Headphones
  10. White-balance cloth
  11. Script
  12. Tripod
  13. Lens filters

Videomaker's Tip Sheet for Videographers (PDF)
Alakazam! The Magic Gear Bag of Tricks

Shooting Checklist

  1. Battery power
  2. White balance
  3. Sound check
  4. Talent release
  5. Lighting check
  6. Tape check
  7. Tripod lock-down
  8. Time/date stamp on/off
  9. Image stabilization on/off
  10. Zoom in/Focus/Zoom out
  11. Compose image
  12. Rehearse
  13. Shoot!

Getting Started: Avoiding Common Camcorder Mistakes

Talent Release

To be read aloud:

I, ______, give ______ the right to use my name, likeness, image, voice, appearance, and performance in a videotape program. This grant includes without limitation the right to edit, mix or duplicate and to use or re-use this videotape program in whole or part. I acknowledge that I have no interest or ownership in the videotape program or its copyright. I also grant the right to broadcast, exhibit, market, sell, and otherwise distribute this videotape program, either in whole or in parts, and either alone or with other products. In consideration of all of the above, I hereby acknowledge receipt of reasonable and fair consideration.

Model Release Form (PDF)
Videomaker Book of Forms