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.