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Thread: Top 10 Tips for Shooting Great Looking Videos

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Default Top 10 Tips for Shooting Great Looking Videos

    Here is an article I've written previously about shooting good digital videos. I hope it'll be useful to some of you in this forum.

    Guidelines for Shooting Quality Videos
    by Gary Hendricks

    The best way of avoiding these problems is to learn some basic video shooting skills. You need not learn complex cinematography or directorial skills, of course. But you should have some fundamental knowledge of what goes into a good video shoot and doesn't. Let's take a look at these shooting tips in turn:

    1. Avoid Zooming In and Out Too Much
    Many digital camcorders come with a super duper 1000X zoom in and zoom out feature. This is a good thing, but the problem is, many people get carried away. I've seen countless videos which keep zooming in and out during the shoot - they generally succeed in giving me a bad headache. Use the zoom in and out feature sparingly. Even if you must use it, do it slowly. A slow, well-controlled zoom is much more professional looking than a quick zoom. Another tip is to restrict the usage of the zoom in between scenes.

    2. Steady Does It
    The professionals always say "Keep It Steady". There is no doubt that when we're shooting videos, our hands tend to vibrate a little. If the vibration is too much, it will badly affect the quality of the video footage. There are two ways to overcome this. One way is to do it like the professionals - get a good tripod stand. These can be obtained rather cheaply. Another way is to brace yourself against something like a wall, or perhaps stoop down on your knee while filming.

    3. Where Are You?
    One tip that I've picked up while shooting family vacations is to always, always look for a landmark, a sign or natural monument that tells the audience where you are. Do you notice the professionals do this as well? For example, in the movies, you may see the camera zooming in on the Statue of Liberty first, before cutting to a scene that happens within. Or there is a shot of the White House before the director cuts into a scene within the Oval Room. Another tip is to make the people you're filming talk or smile. This makes the whole video much more lively and interesting.

    4. The End or The Beginning?
    Another good video shooting trick is to use the end of the story at the start of the video. Again, experts do this all the time. If you're filming a wedding video, you can start off with an interview of the happily married couple on the wedding day before you cut off into scenes of how they met, how they grew up, etc.

    5. Keep Them Short and Simple
    Never, ever, shoot long, drawn out video clips of more than two minutes. It bores the audience to death! Using many short clips of 5 to 10 seconds duration is much more effective. It also brings variety to the audience. Imagine if a television commercial lasted two minutes focusing on the same video scene - wouldn't that be boring?

    6. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
    Of all the factors listed here, nothing spoils a video shoot as much as poor lighting. I've seen many innovative videos marred by poor lighting. One important tip is to shoot video with the light source behind you, shining on the subject. An example is an outdoor shot where the sun is shining. Make sure the sun shines on your subject and not on your camera lens! Another tip is to use the camera's backlight feature if there is one. It allows you to compensate for overly bright light.

    7. Change Your Perspective
    Don't limit your shots to one angle only. Approach your subject from all angles. Come from behind, come from the top, whatever. Perhaps you can even film yourself walking up the steps and opening a bedroom door before reaching your subject.

    8. Learn from The Movies
    You'd be surprised how much you can learn about shooting video from the movies. Very often, we just sit down and let the movie scenes come at us without considering what went through the director's mind. Try it - for once, when you watch your next movie, consider how the director framed that shot or scene. You will learn a lot and maybe even get interested in directing films!

    9. Conserve the Battery
    I've seen or heard so many people forgetting about the battery that I must emphasize it here. Please buy extra batteries! Preferably two extra batteries. Nothing is worse than shooting a video outdoors and having the battery die on you. Also, always bring the AC adapter too - so that you can charge your current battery whenever time permits. You can get camcorder batteries at great prices by following this link.

    10. Check The Sound
    This tip may not be important for the average home user. But if you're a serious videographer, you'll have a microphone attached to your camcorder. Microphones are an essential tool for sound focusing and result in better audio quality during video shoots. You can find very good prices on microphones at this website.

    It's not tough picking up better shooting skills. Once you've learnt the basics, I assure you it will come to you very naturally, almost like riding a bicycle or swimming. If you're truly interested in enhancing your shooting skills, I'd recommend you take a look at one of the following books. They were a great resource for me when I was started out in digital videography.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

  3. Default

    That was good to read. I'm planning a 7 day rafting trip and am going to video tape it. I want to get good video to put on a CD that I make for the guys.

  4. #4


    Great tips! We, as professionals, tend to forget the basics.

    Thanks for the reminders!


  5. #5

    Default editing techniques

    hi, i feel that this article is very useful and informative. i really can learnt lots from this and use them for my videos too...
    is there any suggestions on the editing techniques on the video?
    Last edited by jessie; 01-11-2008 at 01:25 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default My Top Ten

    My top #1 tip on shooting better video is actually "get a better microphone", but here are my top ten tips (discovered from years of doing it the wrong way):

    Digital Video and Film

    (you need to scroll down a bit -- I haven't figured out how to move the posts around in my blog yet)
    Last edited by zamiotana; 01-17-2008 at 02:19 PM.

  7. #7

    Default editng techniques

    hey thanks for the reply..its really useful ..

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    Thanks, this is definitely useful for us newbies!
    The creative act lasts brief moment, a lightning instant just long enough for you to level what camera you have and trap the fleeting prey

  9. Default

    Question, I know that zooming is bad. But sometimes it's unavoidable. For example, at a wedding the bride and groom are about to exchange rings. I have one camera only. I want to go from a 2 people shot to a close up shot of them putting on their rings. What should one do? Maybe in post production just cut out the part where I zoom in? and just jump straight from 2 people shot to close up? Is there a better way?

  10. #10


    When I learnt how pros did this, It improved my video content hugely!

    Use 2 cameras.
    Put 1 at a fixed wide shot that covers most of the action.
    Just before the kiss, You should cut to the wide and then zoom in on the action then just before "You may now kiss" you cut back to the close up and we get that nice shot, then when they pull apart cut back to wide to get the punters *cough* sorry, friends and family clapping and applauding, You can then re-zoom your main camera to a mid shot.

    Of course it is a poor substitute for a 2 camera OP shoot, Or even a 3 camera op shoot ( Luxury and high end budgets only! )

    Any other way will be obvious that you have deleted a chunk from the story.

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