Creating compelling video is part art and part science (and, yes, a bit of luck). I’ve learned, mostly through trial and error — lots of errors! — that following these 9 tips will go a long way toward capturing great, usable video footage. Hopefully this will help spare you the pain of making the same mistakes I have.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up. And why 9 and not 10? Well, I’m hoping those of you who’ve done some video work can offer up a tenth tip.
Read on for 9 tips to capturing great video…
1. The most important piece of equipment, besides your video camera, is a tripod! Trust me, unless you’re filming “The Blair Witch Project” your video will turn out much better with a steady shot.
2. The microphone on most consumer-level cameras isn’t very powerful and the lens will fare far better in brightly lit areas — so film in a quiet, well-lit space — making sure that any bright lights are positioned on the subject.
3. Don’t film into lights, into a window, or against mini blinds. Have a look at a couple of examples from my footage where I made both of these mistakes. (And you only make them once!)
Here’s one example of a very backlit shot because I thought it would be a nice idea to film at the window with the pretty ocean in the background. The end result looks more like a spy video than a conference in Miami:
And here’s a video with the mini blinds behind the subject — notice that the blinds have a strange pattern:
4. Ask your subject to wear a solid color (preferably not white or pink) — just as with mini blinds, tight patterns patterns and stripes tend to moire on camera making it appear as though the shirt is moving. Definitely don’t want to add your own special effects.
5. Make sure the background isn’t distracting, but not too boring either. It’s fine to have regular office supplies, artwork, people walking by, etc. Just make sure your subject doesn’t fade into the background.
6. If your subject requires a “prompter” or notes, put bullet points only — not verbatim text — on a poster or piece of paper (watch out for rustling) and hold it at eye level next to the camera. (That’s where the tripod comes in handy so you’re not holding the camera and the notes). Or try one of these mini teleprompters or iPhone apps.
7. Limit panning — zooming in and zoom out while filming. Don’t zoom in too close, crop the chin (cropping the top of the head is acceptable). For best results, get head and shoulders in the shot.
8. For a more interesting shot, try framing the subject so that he or she is on the slight right or left of the shot. It provides a bit more interesting shot than someone who is dead center.
9. Rather than asking the subject look directly into the camera, place an interviewer next to the camera and ask the subject to talk to that person. It looks less like a deer in the headlights and the subject feels more at ease.
What should the tenth tip be? Or what questions do you have about video? Ask a question here and I may answer it in an upcoming blog post (or just right here in the comments). And head over to the Channels Buzz partner community for tutorials, videos, and other video tips.
And, now, thanks to a couple of Channels blog reader contributions, we’ve added two more tips:
10. From Gregor: Make sure that you shoot at head height! Shooting up at someone or down at someone is never a great look for a website video except in very few instances!
11. From Tina Shakour: Be “over the top” with your voice and gestures. The guys on TechWiseTV have pushed me to do this and while you feel like a dork doing it, it looks better on camera. The more energy you put into it, the better it will look on the small screen later.
Please keep sharing those tips in the comments. Thank you for your comments and contributions.
Got an idea for a story on this blog? Interesting people for us to interview? Topics you’d like to see? Pitch us: channelsblog at cisco.com.