The 5 Deadly Sins of Amateur Video

A look at how to create better, more professional looking video by eliminating the 5 most common amateur mistakes.

Video Transcript

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Each and every one of us wants to make professional looking video and one of the ways we accomplish that is by how we move the camera. This time, we’re gonna take a look at how we pan, how we tilt, how we do a zolly, and lastly, some MTV dynamic, crazy Dutch angles and how they’re executed properly. We’re also gonna take a look at the standard for handheld shooting and how to make that look professional. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is camera motion.

The first thing we’re gonna be looking at is known as the Marxist position and what this is used for is handheld shooting and it basically creates a more professional way to go about this task without making shaky, unstable, amateur looking video. Now, the first step to this process is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a little bend at the legs. When you do this, it creates a shock absorber for when you’re carrying the camera. Now, the reason you don’t do this with your legs together is because you have a lot less balance and stability that way and it’s a lot easier to tip over and get a very shaky shot. When your legs are spread apart, you have a better center of gravity. Now, that our legs are bent and we have a lot more stability, the next step is to make sure the upper part of your body is more stable as well, and you’re gonna want to create that center of gravity by shooting with your elbow in. Now, the tendency is to generally keep your elbow out and more relaxed. When you do this, the shots you shoot are very shaky. You’re gonna wanna tuck it in to right above your solar plexus and you’re gonna keep your elbow very, very supported and very straight. This makes your body work more like a tripod. One of the biggest advantages to this position is the ability to walk and be stable and get good shots at the same time.

Now, the next thing we’re gonna look at is panning the camera. The first step here is to not use our wrists ‘cause when we do that, the camera is very unstable. Step number two of this process is to take your foot and point it in the direction you’re gonna end your shot. The reason you do this is because when your body starts at another position, it naturally tends to head right back into the position you’ll be ending your shot. This creates a much smoother movement because you’re not going against the grain with your body. If our feet were together, that if I were to try to pan now, I’m going against the grain with my body. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not natural and the camera motion isn’t stable.

Now, step number three to this process is to simply remember that sometimes less is more. You don’t always need to necessarily pan from screen left to screen right because it will look a lot more unstable, therefore, a lot more unprofessional.

Now, step number one to doing a tilt is to make sure that your camera is locked down on a tripod. Therefore, you could create a nice, steady, and easy moving motion.

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The last step in this process when you’re doing a tilt is to look ahead and make sure you know where you’re going with the camera. You want to make sure that you’re not just using the LCD as your eye, that you’re actually looking ahead with your eyes and making sure you’re following your work in the LCD.

This next shot is known as a zolly. Now, normally, this is done with the assistance of a wheelchair when you’re on a budget, but we’re gonna try to do this by standing. The first step of this camera motion is to actually stabilize the camera like we did earlier when using the Marxist position. Step number two is to zoom in on the subject and walk towards them. Step number three is to zoom out with the camera as you walk toward the subject. The last step in this process is the most important to pulling off this effect. Now, you’re gonna wanna match the speed of the zoom with the speed of the camera’s motion when it’s moving forward. If you can pull off these two things, you’ll have the perfect zolly effect.

Even though we know how to make things stable now, there is room to make things chaotic and crazy when you shoot. Sometimes, making things unstable adds an element of realism or even an element of chaos to each and every one of your projects. Now, as long as the motivation is there, for instance, if we have a lot of crazy music and we’re doing a lot of fast cuts, these type of crazy Dutch angles can work for us, just like an MTV style music video. Let’s get a crazy shot of Julie and see how it looks.

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Now, that we understand how to create smoother camera motion, it’s easier for each and every one of us to create more professional looking video.

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