The Beginner’s Problems and How to Solve Them

You may already follow the basic rules of cinematography, those useflil guidelines that make for effective motion pictures.

Then again, you may not.

There are a number of common errors made by new owners of caincorders. Here I wish to identify them, offering tips for the avoidance of mistakes and the creation of better video.

Zoom Doom

The zoom function exists for quick and easy changes of lens value. A good videomaker chooses zoom opportunities carefully. The zoom is a special effect, and is best used sparingly.

Whenever feasible, stop the tape while changing zoom positions. Start again only after several practice zooms. This will result in a cleaner, edited look.

But of course.

when Kevin’s taking his first toddling steps, go ahead and zoom-and fast.

Beginners often shoot as if they’re pushing the button of a still camera. The nervous shooter, acutely aware of all the interesting action in view, tries to shoot every bit of it as quickly as possible.

The result is a series of quick, jerky pans to various subjects. It’s important to remember that any subject worth shooting is worth shooting for several seconds.

Untrained videomakers are also unnaturally foud of extreme wide shots. These folks will pose a person in front of a fence, framing from head to toe. This results in a panoramic portrait of a fence, with a barely recognizable biped at center.

Television benefits from frequent closeups, and observant viewers always look for closeup opportunities in their own work. Some, however, shoot too much of a good thing, ignoring action of interest in favor of suffocating closeup after closeup.

Hollywood, remember, was built on panoramic scenes. Keep an eye out for them.

Handheld closeups are often unsteady, even shaky. Whenever possible move closer to the subject, so that a wider angle with less degree of zoom will give you the same, but steadier, shot.

Frantic Focusing

The camera pans, and when it stops, a fuzzy image that might be a face fills the screen. The fuzziness dissipates and the image briefly becomes a face, then slides out of focus again. Finally, the picture is sharp.

This frantic focusing plagues all videomakers, no matter how professional. An experienced camera operator, however, plans ahead. Before pushing the button to roll tape, the pro pans and practices changing focus as different subjects move into the frame. When shooting, the subjects are usually sharp, or near enough.

The more you shoot, the more control you build into your taping. And the more control you exert, the more satisfying the results.

James McDearmnan is a video communications manager for a banking firm.

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