Technology has helped all of us to be potential photographers and cinematographers. The issue with all of us being shooters is quality. Follow these tips to avoid mistakes and make the most of your creative opportunities.
I encourage my clients to use their mobile devices to capture behind-the-scenes peeks of their office, business, industry events, and trade shows. I'm always encouraging spur-of-the-moment videos for their social media presence too. I do go through some training basics with them because making a quality video isn't as easy as pointing and shooting.
These tips will help you create better content whether your filming only for yourself or to promote your business.
Landscape or Portrait? Orient yourself! I learned years ago when I had my first smartphone and recorded a fantastic video of a hail storm that was broadcast on NBC in portrait mode. Heck, we all have to start someplace! That particular video shot in landscape format would have been more compelling, although it was still pretty impressive if I do say so myself. I know lots of apps shoot in vertical format, but you'll like your video much better if you film in landscape mode which is more like a film.
Count to Ten As a general rule, plan on holding your shots for at least ten seconds to give yourself enough footage for what you want to show in your scene. Did you ever see Mr. Rogers show children how long a minute lasts? Practice how long 10-seconds is, so you have enough video to edit. You'll always be able to cut things out if your video is too long, but there's no way to add more once you've left the shoot.
Don't Make Us Sick Thinking about panning and zooming? Take some time to practice those skills, so you don't make your viewers sick. Dating myself now when I recall a friend's spouse with a brand new video camera filming from the passenger seat while the vehicle was in motion and then proceeded to pan and zoom. Air sickness bags would have been a welcomed addition to the screening! When you are filming in movement, picture how your eyes look at the world. As you scan an area, you're most likely looking at one image at a time whether you move your eyes only or your entire head.
Steady Eddie Try to keep your shots as stable as possible by using a tripod or a Gimbel to improve your filming. Do everything you can do to improve your film quality.
Shoot in sequence Shooting in sequence will make your life easier when you're editing - or really easy if you aren't doing any editing. Remember the basics to visual storytelling, wide shot to set the scene, step in closer for the medium shot, then shoot your close up portrait shot. Let's shoot video of a dog (or pony) trotting. The wide shot is the scene (show us where you are at), now move in for the medium shot and show the dog's body, finally do your close up portrait shot with the dog's happy face. Now that you have this starter sequence adjust your angle and shoot a similar sequence. Shoot from above, below, straight in front, straight behind, full side shot, anything works for variety, and this is time for you to have some fun creating shots.
Set the stage for interviews Are you interviewing people for your film? Put them in front of a background that enhances your story. Anyone can stand in front of a door, and that could happen anywhere. Position your subject in a place that is relevant to your story. For example, if the interview is about safety around horses, have some horses in an attractive background shot and then show them in safety equipment around and on a horse.
If you only have one mobile device for recording audio, get in close to your subject for the best chance at quality audio. If you have a friend helping, you could use their phone to record sound in an audio file. You could also use a microphone that is compatible with your device to up your audio ante.
If you have a Hollywood style clapboard, clap that before your scenes to mark for editing and syncing. Don't have a clapboard? Clap your hands together once in front of the camera before you start your scenes.
Framing Your Subject Check your background when your filming - no one wants to see a lamppost or tree growing out of their head. Use the "Rule of Thirds" as you film your interview by leaving enough talking space and headroom for your subject. Remember we're shooting horizontally, so one-third of the frame should appear above the person’s eye line. The second one-third should cover the person’s face and shoulder area. Leaving the bottom one-third for the person’s upper body. When shooting an interview with the person looking off screen, leave about a third of the screen in front of the person to create talking space. This open space should be in the direction the interviewee is looking.
Quiet on the Set! There's a reason directors call for quiet on the set; unintended noise can ruin a great shot. Audio should be used to enhance and help tell the story, not detract from the video. You always want to capture the best sound possible, especially when you are interviewing someone. Your device will pick up almost everything on the microphone, and you won't be able to edit that out. Best tip? Keep your mouth shut while you're filming.
Did you like and use any of these tips? If so, please share your high-quality videos with me!