5 Tips to Shoot Better Video

You do not need a high end video camera to produce quality video.  In fact, many smart phones these days offer HD.  In order to shoot better video, keep these 5 tips in mind.

1) Rule of thirds
Much like photography, you can set your frames using the rule of thirds.  Draw imaginary lines on your frame dividing it into thirds, much like a tick-tack-toe board.  In order to be more visually appealing, points of interest should occur at 1/2 or 2/3 up the frame instead of the middle.  When your subject is a person, the main line of interest is typically between the eyes, as demonstrated in this photo.

2) Be aware of your lighting
You do not need a professional lighting kit in order to improve the lighting quality of your videos.  The key is to be aware.  If outside, know where the sun is located.  If inside, know where your windows are located.  It’s never a good idea to position your subject so that you are shooting directly into the light, unless you are seeking a cool, shadowy effect.  You will have better results keeping the natural light from the sun and windows to the side of your subject, but out of frame.  If a shadow is created on half of your subject, you will benefit from additional lighting, but don’t feel as if you need to buy a professional lighting kit to achieve results.  A simple light mounted slightly above your subject and off to the opposite side of the sun or window will work wonders.  This is one of my favorite pictures taken of my kids in Aruba that shows what happens when you shoot into the sun.

3) Audio
If you are trying to capture an impromptu video, there is not much you can do about the audio in your shot.  It is what it is.  However, if you want to stage a video and have time to consider audio, there are a couple of things you can do to improve quality.  Be mindful of your surroundings.  Close your eyes for a moment and just listen.  If you hear background noise, it will be difficult to hear your subject on video while using the built in microphone.  If you are constantly dealing with background noise issues where you want to shoot, consider investing in a lavaliere type of microphone that attaches to your video camera.  These come wireless or wired and will block out ambient noise, allowing your subject’s voice to be heard clearer.

4) Invest in a mini tripod
When I say “invest” I’m not talking about mortgaging your house.  You can find mini tripods online for as little as a couple of dollars.  It’s common sense that simply placing the tripod on a stationary surface results in a more stable video.  I have another trick for using a mini tripod.  I flatten the tripod legs into a mono-pod and hold it in my hand while shooting.  It reduces hand shake significantly and offers much greater stabilization.

5) Read the manual.
No, really.  Do it.  Even the most basic video cameras these days come with manual settings.  Take the time to learn the ins and outs of everything your camera has to offer.

Bonus tips: Memory is cheap and unwanted video can simply be deleted.  As with any skill, practice makes perfect.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about shooting quality video or if you have tips to add.