Todd’s Tips – Learn to Shoot Good Video

Have you ever felt like this when you finish a video? Felt like you’re carrying the corpse of your dead idea? Editing can obviously be a big part of making a good video, but before you ever even get to the editing suite, there’s a lot you can do to make your video amazing. You … Continue reading “Todd’s Tips – Learn to Shoot Good Video”

Have you ever felt like this when you finish a video? Felt like you’re carrying the corpse of your dead idea?

Editing can obviously be a big part of making a good video, but before you ever even get to the editing suite, there’s a lot
you can do to make your video amazing. You can shoot it well.

Now, for non-film students this might seem like a daunting challenge; without access to high-end video cameras or fancy lighting equipment high-quality shooting seems like a pipe dream. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few simple tips for shooting good quality video for your class projects with an emphasis on shooting interviews.
These tips are perfect for the Flip UltraHD and Kodak Zi-8 camcorders we have available in Media Services.
1) Use a Tripod. For serious. Nothing detracts from video like shakiness that shouldn’t be there. Don’t have one? No problem. You can always prop the camcorder on something. The goal here is steadiness.
2) Pay attention to your framing. Framing is the process of moving the camera (or subject) such that the subject is positioned in a dynamic, appealing way. What does that mean? It means using the “rule of thirds.”
Basically the rule of thirds splits the frame into three sets of horizontal spaces and three sets of vertical spaces. Where these thirds meet might be considered sweet spots. Like this:
Also notice here that this fellow is facing toward the part of the frame in which there is MORE space. This is called “nose-room.” Imagine if he were facing to the right instead? He would look seriously jammed against the side.
Finally, see how the top of his head is cut off a bit by the top of the frame. That’s called “head-room.” It’s generally ok to cut off the top bit or let a subject’s head have a touch of space between it and top of the frame. Go lower than that and it’ll look like the poor fellow is about to fall out of the bottom of the frame.
So when you set up your shot, take your time and make sure it looks appealing.
3) Light Your Subject. Even if you just tilt the shade of a lamp a bit to brighten up your subject’s face, do so.

Or you could use a reflector to reflect some local ambient light onto your subject. And this is as simple as stretching some aluminum foil over some cardboard. Like the one to the left.
Believe me, it makes a huge difference. But lighting is a huge subject in itself. So checkout Videomaker magazine’s website. They have a massive repository of educational articles and videos. Here are the ones on lighting.
4) Finally, and perhaps most important, test your gear before you get to your shoot. Make sure it works and you know how to work it.
Here’s the link to the main teaching section of Videomaker’s website. There are sections on pre-production, production and post-production. All are worth spending a bit of time on, even if you are only doing a short piece for your Anthropology class.