Viewfinder: You Can Make Better Video

You Can Make Better Video
There is always room for improvement in whatever we do, video producing is no exception. However, making a good video can be so challenging for some that they grow weary and begin to doubt their abilities. It is very important to remain motivated. Here are a few tips that can make a difference.

  1. Start with a great idea and think it through in your head before you start shooting. – Great ideas are not always easy to come by. Dedicate time to the creative thinking process. Consider all the possibilities. Once you settle on your best idea, visualize the entire video project over and over in your mind as many times as possible before you shoot any footage. You’ll be surprised how many new ideas for better shots, improved edits and even great titles will come to mind as you mentally rehearse your project.

  2. Learn how to frame better shots. I really enjoy watching photographers work. Once they arrive on the location of the shoot, the first thing that they do is scan the entire environment. They study the lighting and the backgrounds especially. Their eyes dart around and they turn their bodies 360 degrees several times, intently imagining all of the shots that they need to capture. Photographers are lucky, they don’t have to think about capturing sound or motion. They have the "mind space" to devote all of their attention toward framing great shots. They’ll set up their tripods several times and look through the viewfinder several times. They’ll pan and tilt the camera every which way until they settle on a few shots that they feel will work for them. As producers of video, we need to do all of these things and more. It is very important to take some time to consider all of your shots.

  3. Try to avoid the "standard" shots if possible. Use your imagination. Play with the framing of your shot. Extreme closeups are shots that are becoming more popular and are good for adding emotion to any shot. Extreme closeups are framed so tightly that some of the subject is cropped out of the picture. The use of over-the-shoulder shots or high or low angle shots will keep things visually interesting as well.

  4. Always be attentive to audio. Often, there are so many video elements to pay attention to, audio quality can easily be overlooked. Audio can really have a major impact on your final project. High quality external microphones are always good to use with audio-sensitive projects. They enable you to get as close to the mouths of the subjects as possible. This will almost always insure clean audio. If there are two people speaking, use a shotgun mike on a boom or use two handheld or lapel mikes and a small sound mixer. Before you start shooting, sit quietly and listen to the acoustics of the environment for at least two minutes. Also, listen for any background noises that may be present. Sometimes there will be no background noise. It’s a good idea to make a note of this to help you remember to add some sound in the editing process, if you choose. If you are shooting outside, birds chirping will reinforce the natural sounds of a scene shot outdoors. Sometimes, when shooting outdoors, it is easy to forget that your audience will be viewing your footage indoors. They should hear the same low volume and distant sounds that you hear while you are shooting. They won’t feel the breeze on their face, so you need to take extra care to emphasize and underscore the sounds of the outdoors.

  5. Try to shoot in sequence. This is often impractical. Although it is convenient to shoot various scenes as the opportunity arises, shooting in sequence makes it easier to mentally keep track of the story that you are trying to tell. This technique will be helpful later in the editing stage of your project but it requires some extra planning on your part.

You can make better video. Set some new goals for yourself each and every time that you embark on a video project and stay committed to achieving them.

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