6 Tips for Shooting Better Video

Date Posted:6 June 2017 

Whether you are only just realising the potential of videography for your business or artistic endeavours, or you have been creating videos for years, it’s always a good idea to scrub up on the basics.

 

For those wanting to branch out from photography, you’ll find that videography follows the same premises as that of still images: good composition, lighting, and angles. But, with scene changes, consideration for movement, constant reshooting, audio, and more required in general from cast members, videographers require greater focus and patience to achieve the perfect shots and scenes.

So, before you set up your first scene or plan your first storyboard, here’s a definitive list of tips to help you along the way.

1. Scene composition

Just like photography, scene composition in videography is crucial to not only creating interesting stills, but in creating seamless transitions across the length of the scene. For this, it is suggested that the ‘rule of thirds’ is employed. The rule of thirds suggests that through creating a 3x3 grid over each shot, you create balance in the frame and more visually interesting stills.

The difference this technique can create is shown well in Mike Browne’s video:

Rule of thirds from Mike Browne on Vimeo.

Not only is this technique great for long stills used for establishing setting, it is also great for shooting dialogue. Rather than shooting your subject front-on while they are conversing to another character, or having both characters in the same frame, simply have one character on the right third of the frame, and then place the second character on the left third of the frame in a separate shot. Dialogue will not only flow better across shots, it also allows the opportunity for strategic close-ups.

2. Filming without a tripod

Even if you are using a tripod to shoot a wedding or an advertisement, you’ll inevitably need to remove your camera from its comfort zone to follow the action of a scene, or to create more interesting shots. The issue with separating a camera from its tripod? Unwanted movement. Sometimes handheld cameras are successfully used to create interest in a video, but distracting, shaky footage is best avoided unless you are purposely using it for a particular scene.

Tip: Keep the camera as close to your body as possible. Not only will this keep the camera steady, it will also make it easier for you to keep it still for longer as the weight will be better distributed through your chest rather than through your arms.

3. Don’t overuse panning or zooming

Once you discover the zoom button on your video camera, it’s hard to stop using it. A good rule of thumb is to keep any shot steady for at least 10 seconds before you allow yourself to zoom or pan around the shot.

The zoom button is also great for setting up your shots. Zoom in, focus your lens, and then you can zoom back out and your shot will be focused on the most important element. This also helps when you are planning on zooming in later in the shot, as the lens won’t have to refocus mid-scene.

4. Check the audio

You’ve set up the perfect shot and your cast is ready to go. But first, you must ensure that your inbuilt microphone on your camera is enough to pick up the action and dialogue. If it isn’t, make sure to have an extra mic handy, particularly when filming outside.

Tip: Check audio each time you set up a new scene. Changes in setting (indoor/outdoor) and your distance from the action can affect the sound quality and volume picked up by your mics. There is nothing worse than filming a perfect take and then having the sound almost nonexistent, so save yourself constant reshoots by doing mic checks before each scene.

5. Perfect the lighting

Whether you are filming outdoors, indoors, or a mix all in one day, lighting is arguably the most important aspect of your shots. There’s only so much editing you can do postproduction, so you need to make sure you are constantly looking out for changes in lighting, particularly when using natural lighting.

Tip: No need to buy an expensive bounce board to bounce light onto your subjects. Create a DIY bounce board with a sheet of white foam board. Try and buy one with a reflective backing that can be used for reflecting even more natural light onto your subject. Because this board is cheap and lightweight, it’s easy to make in different sizes to suit both indoor and outdoor settings.

6. Pay attention to shot lengths

You may be tempted to cut your shots as soon as the dialogue finishes, but make sure to keep your camera running for 3-5 seconds before the beginning and end of each scene. This will give you a lot more options when it comes to postproduction. Also, by creating separate recordings for each scene take, it is easier to pick the best and edit it into the final product.

Tip: Keep your shot lengths to around 5 to 10 seconds long. It is particularly important to keep this in mind when shooting dialogue. If a conversation lasts for a minute, you’ll need at least 6 different shots of it, so plan accordingly. 

Update your equipment today to make the most of these videographer tips!


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