What do I need to know about shooting video footage?

Many of us have shot video footage informally in the past. But, if you’re trying to shoot video for a project, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself…

Environment

  • Sound. Am I shooting in a quiet place, so that the only audio I’m recording is the audio I want to be recording? (Because it would be a shame if your project was inaudible because you held the camera against the air conditioning unit.)
  • Light. Is who or what I’m shooting clearly lit (or intentionally not clearly lit… or, at least, lit the way I want them to be)? Cameras are less able to adapt their light sensors than humans, so what seems clear to you may come out badly backlit (so no faces are visible) or too dark. Look through the viewfinder to make this decision. There’s lots to think about.

Equipment

  • Power. Is the camera fully charged, or plugged in? It would really be a shame to have it stop recording midway through your perfect take.

Filming

  • Stability. There are lots of Hollywood techniques for adding “energy” to a scene, including handheld footage — it “makes you feel like you’re right there.” But, if you’re not trying to add that energy intentionally, don’t add it by accident: use a tripod. You can check them out from the Library.
  • Framing. Look through the viewfinder and make sure that you are recording exactly what you want to be recording. Pay attention to the background — you’ll feel silly when you go back and realize that your video set in renaissance Italy has a digital clock sitting square in the middle of the frame. There’s lots to think about.
  • Focus. Likewise, make sure that the camera is focused on what you want it to be focused on. Most cameras autofocus on the closest movement, but you can often either manually adjust focus or (on smart phones and iPads), tap on the object that should be the point of focus. If you record everything with your star actor out of focus, you’ll be disappointed.

Clean Up

  • Do you have everything you brought with you? Especially if you checked your equipment out from the Library, double-check that you have everything before you pack up. There’s an inventory slip in the equipment case or bag. Use it.

Mr. Battis has written 102 articles

Educator. Electronics. Esthetics. Easterner (who thinks he's a Westerner).

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