Quick Tips

Stay Sharp

When using manual focus, always zoom in to your camera’s maximum telephoto setting before adjusting your focus. If shooting a person, zoom in tight on the eyes, and then set your focus. This will insure a sharp, crisp picture when you zoom out to frame the shot.

Hit List

Before leaving to videotape an event, whether a wedding, a recital or a family get-together, brainstorm a list of shots to look for, and check them off as you shoot. Working from a shot list will help insure that you record everything that you want on tape and that you miss nothing important. Feel free to include extra shots not on your list, however, if you see something interesting.

Play it Safe

When creating graphics for your videos, leave a "safe zone" around the edge of the screen. Large or wide graphics run the risk of being cut off on some TVs, since some TV sets crop more of the edge of the frame than others. Designing graphics that are within the safety zone will guarantee your title’s readability.

Bean Pod

Most tripods won’t allow you to set up an extremely low-angle shot. To keep low-angle shots rock-solid, try using a bean bag instead of your tripod. Simply place the bean bag on the ground and your camcorder on the bean bag. This will keep your low-angle camera shots rock-solid.

Strobe to the Rescue

If while editing your project, you realize that a needed shot seems too shaky to use, try running the footage through a video mixer and adding a strobe effect. The strobe effect will, in essence, remove some of the frames in the shaky footage. The result could turn lousy video into useable footage.

Cutaways Save the Day

When editing a speech or interview where a person speaks on-camera for long periods of time, it is often necessary to make edits between phrases to shorten the message or remove verbal blunders. Plan ahead by shooting cutaways at the location of the interview or of the subject discussed. This will cover these edits and prevent jarring jump cuts.

Watch It!
Whenever possible, use a color monitor when you shoot. The monitor allows you to see color accurately, which is especially important if you will be adjusting lighting. In addition, a monitor doesn’t force you to shoot with your eye stuck to a tiny viewfinder. This is doubly helpful when taping long events like weddings or sporting events.

Mr. Slate

When shooting multiple takes of a scene, identify or "slate" each shot visually. This can be as easy as holding the corresponding number of fingers in front of the lens, or as involved as writing the scene and take numbers on a small dry erase board, which is held in front of the camcorder for ten to fifteen seconds before each shot. These visual slates make it easy to identify different takes while fast-forwarding through your footage later.

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