Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Videomaker › Tips and Suggestions › Shooting Tips for Home Video Newbies?
- November 27, 2012 at 12:30 PM #52097mhagemanParticipant
Looking back, we wrote an article about How to Make your Home Video Better.
The one trick we suggested in this article for home video shooters is not to move your camera while the red record button is on – no pans, no tilts, no zooms, no dollies, no trucks, etc. otherwise sea sickness will occur! – seems basic enough, but sometimes people new to making home videos need the basics pointed out to them. Do you have any other suggestions, pointers or basic knowledge to pass around to our newbies out there wondering what techniques will strengthen their skills for their next home video? Do share…
With all respect I notice that Mom's are the worst at recording video. Why? Because Mom's usually have so many things going on that the video becomes second priority. The best tip I could give is giving the camera to someone who does not have to keep an eye on anything else other than the video. I'm not saying that Mom's can't record the video, just that it may be better to either give the job to someone else or concentrating on the camera.
* If you are recording children don't record them from your eye level, go down to theirs. This makes the video look like is seen from the child perspective.
* Everything is your "tripod". What I mean by this is to use every possible surface to put your elbows on. Surfaces like chairs, desks, the floor, etc. This stabilize you camera angle drastically. You can also use walls.
Think in terms of whole frame, not just in terms of the subject of your shot. Look carefully at what's behind and to the side of your subject. Nothing worse than a light pole growing out of Grandpa's head, or the edge of a garbage can intruding into your shot.
Another tip is to vary the shot: little Bobby riding his scooter, on a long shot. Then zoom in for a medium shot and finally to a close up of Bobby's smiling face. Hold each shot for several seconds; this will give you several good shots for your edit.
Also, as above, once you acquire a shot — that is, you've framed it up and are steady on it — hold the shot for at least 10 seconds, even more if it's interesting. This will give you the opportunity to cut from one nice steady shot to another.
Finally, leave your camera running. Resist the temptation to turn it off after each shot. Tape is cheap and recording to card or disc is virtually free. You can always edit out the junk but you can't reconstruct shots you've missed because the camera is in standby or turned off. Also, if the camera is recording you'll be surprised at the audio you'll capture, audio which can often be used for voice-over even though the accompanying shot is no good.
Pans, zooms, tilts, do not, of themselves, stuff up movies or videos, inappropriate or over-use of them does that. They are like 'transitions' in that respect. I never use them, except for a cross-fade
on rare occasions. I have seen other people flog them to death, as if, somehow, being in possession of an arsenal of them, has become a challenge to find a use for every last one of them. I cut my teeth on film, not video and in the late 1960's. I joined a club with a large membership, (it has recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of non-professional movie-making in our city, although I am no longer a member). Back in the 1960's everything was done according to 'rules', and frequently, highly restrictive ones at that. Club movies tended to become clones of each other, always abiding by the 'rules' and exhibiting a 'sameness'. I won't go into details; many of you will know what I mean.
Today most of those 'rules' have gone-out-the-window, thank goodness. Although even at the top- professional end of the spectrum, that has resulted in some barely watchable film/video; on
another level, those rules of past years have been flouted with success. Some years ago, I saw, to my unbounded amazement, in a resort in which we were staying in Port Douglas, North Queensland, Australia, a young man walk through the entire complex, holding a video-camcorder at arm's length, swinging it left and right at whatever took his fancy as he passed, without breaking his stride. I shudder to think what his eventual audience thought of the outcomes. On the other hand, I have run up a beach carrying a camcorder, (insofar as a 76 year-old is capable of 'running' anywhere), to get a 'victims-eye' view of his surroundings as experienced by a native who was to find himself disembowled seconds later by a man wielding a British navy cutlass. That shot faded out in a red haze, which I felt was more tasteful than the spectre of the man trying to hold back the contents of his stomach as they threated to spill out, which was what actually happened at the time. A high price to pay for the theft of a red shirt and a knife from a visiting whaler, one might say.
Incidentally, I kid you not. The event is part of our local history, which is savage in the extreme; just a few, miles from where I live, people having been cannibalised and eaten until into the 1820's and possibly later. I felt compelled to feature one of the first of a series of tit-for-tat reprisals, which saw many people killed and a local Maori village burned to the ground, as retribution for people killed and eaten.
That's one thing about documentary, it need not be dull; people just insist on making it that way.
Ian Smith – Dunedin, New Zealand.
Your points are well taken, Ian, although I would approach the notion of flouting the rules, as we have seen in the past several decades, with some trepedation. "Rules," which means different things to different people, are definitely made to be broken, but I would argue that first they must be thoroughly understood.
The "rules" of composition, for example, evolved over a very long period of time — more than 2000 years. I'd prefer to use the term "convention" rather than "rules" however. Convention suggests a reciprocity, a vocabulary employed by an artist so that everyone who comes to view a work of art can communicate with that work. We've had to learn to understand perspective, for example; viewers came to understand that objects that were big and bright and low in the composition are "close," while objects that were small and higher in the composition and less distinct and colorful are far away.
At times, especially in the late 19th and 20th centuries, painters came to question whether this was how they wanted to represent their understanding of the world and, in some cases, chose to create conventions of their own or to work in a way that had no conventions. It seems to me what they gained was complete freedom from "rules;" what they often lost was communication with their viewers.
Music underwent a similar transformation. I remember bebop when it was introduced. Every kid in our town wanted to play the trombone: it didn't have fixed notes (rules) and you could make your own any sound that happened to fall out of the bell. You didn't have to know how to play the instrument and you didn't have to know anything about music to call yourself a musician.
Today I see a similar situation with many people who are making video. Videography is built on the foundation laid down by still photographers and film makers who, in turn, built their art on the foundation of painting. No one is compelled to do it the way their predecessors did it, but they depart at their own risk. They produce work that is chaotic and without structure, that is largely lacking in composition, in pace and coherence and, perhaps most importantly, in beauty, grace and harmony. And the problem is that they don't know this — they are unaware of the extent of their ignorance — and therefore don't know how to make what they're doing any better than it is.
I agree with you that blind obedience to rules in the arts leads to sameness, boredome and a complete lack of spontenaity. But I firmly believe that a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the foundation upon which our art and craft rest permits an inspired, creative departure from this foundation rather than a waving about with a camera in one's hands as you describe the chap in the garden, hoping the muses will light on the work.
You're absolutely right, Mike. In-camera editing — hitting "Pause" between shots — is a great way to get family videos without firing up the editing software.
Seems to me I recall at least a couple of Videomaker articles which deal with in-camera editing.
Edit: Yep, use the Search function for "in-camera edit;" there are a whole bunch of great articles.