Shooting Tips for Home Video Newbies?

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    • #52097

      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…


    • #205028
      Luis Maymi Lopez

      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. 


      More tips:


      * 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.






    • #205030

      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.




    • #205040

       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.

    • #205046

      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.




    • #205050

      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.


    • #208748

      Break every rule you can. Those that won't break Keep.


      I never edit anything.


      If there is a nice sunrise or sunset. Start or end with that. Cuz they are beautiful.


      Don't have any zoom when moving the camcorder.


      I shoot lots of 1/8 mile drags. I stand down the track 3/4 way. With my wrist resting on the tripod. Zoomed in on the cars as they ready to start. I lift my wrist off and follow them while zooming back. I follow the lead car and if a pass is made I got it. These clips are from 10 to 15 seconds long.


      Run with the camcorder or trott. Bend at the waste and hold the camcorder out front. That takes a lot of the bounce out.


      I shot lots of trapline video and seldom looked in the view finder. My hands covered the camcorder to keep it from freezing up. I know where it is pointing. I needed to step over logs and while looking around saw and captured things that would have been missed looking in the screen.


      Take your camcorder with you as much as possible. Any video is better than no video. Everytime.


      One thing I learned from the trapline is "be like the weasel" pop here look there be on the move but slowly pan. The old style cameras were so heavy they couldn't do any of that stuff.


      Shoot shoot and shoot more.


    • #210900

      Yes, it will be more helpful if you have some good tips about making vedio. i want to share some tips with you.

      * Take focus into your own hands
      * Shoot in sequences.
      * Don't tune out on audio.
      * Practice, experiment, and practice some more.
      * always shoot your subject's face straight on.


    • #211899

      i'd like to suggest five points. creative

      2.Control the Amount of Light Available

      3.shot should be steady

      4.Lining Up Audio,Choosing a Great Soundtrack

      5.cut the scene closely

    • #211917
      StanDan Pro

      There is often so much emphasis on the visuals that the audio gets neglected.  I think people can tolerate bad video more than they can tolerate bad audio (this doesn't mean you should be careless with the video).


      I use the 3D Audio Rule: have a Designated audio person using a Detached system that focuses on Dialogue.  All other sounds can easily be added in post, but repairing dialogue is more complicated.  


      Designated person – trust me, if you try and multitask your video will suffer.  The designated person can check for clips, background noises, if the audio is understandable, etc.


      Detached system – this allows you to get as close to the subject as you can.  The built in mic, aside from being an inferior mic, CANNOT GET CLOSE … unless you're doing a Blair Witch extreme close up shot.


      Dialogue – As I said, sound effects and all other audio is easy to recreate in post … well, at least it's easier than having to sync dialogue.


      One more audio tip:


      Make sure you record at least 1min of ambient noise for each location.  This helps you smooth out any audio edits or transitions.



      Learn to produce & profit from 30 second commercials in 30 days on a shoestring budget

    • #205047
      Mike Wilhelm



      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.





      I implore anyone reading this to only keep your camera running if you do plan on editing. If you're just going to show everyone your raw footage, please use that record button before moving to a new setup!

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