Have you ever had to endure watching a video that shakes and moves every couple of seconds because whoever shot it didn’t use a tripod or was overactive with the zoom button? Not much fun is it and it can be a bit awkward if you are asked to comment on the footage afterwards.
Sure image stabilization on some cameras can help but nothing beats a good sturdy tripod. Not only will you get better shots but you’ll also able to get a lot more usable stable shots. Plus you’ll be able to add steady pans and tilts to your video. If you don’t have a tripod, try steadying yourself by leaning against a wall or a fence or something solid or even placing the camera on a flat surface. If you want to steady a low angle shot you could also place the camera on a soft bag or even a pillow before you record.
If you have taken the time to shoot a scene then give your viewers enough time to look at the detail. Try to hold your shots for longer before changing them and don’t always zoom in while recording. Before changing a shot, stop recording, reframe your shot, check focus and then resume recording. This is sometimes called in-camera editing and your viewers will appreciate it. Try to alternate wider shots with closer shots so you don’t end up with what is known as a ‘jump cut’. This occurs when similar size frames of a scene follow each other giving a jarring impression or a jump. You can actually save a lot of time editing by doing this.
Focus is another important issue while filming a scene. It is almost impossible to keep your shot in focus while zooming in unless you set your furthest focus point first. Before you start recording zoom into the furthest point you are likely need, focus then zoom back out. That way if you do need to zoom in everything will stay in focus. This is particularly useful when filming a sports event with fast moving action. But remember to only use the zoom function sparingly and if you do, make sure it is a steady slow zoom to draw the viewer’s attention to a point of interest. Using the power zoom also uses a lot of battery power so you’ll get more battery life by being conservative with this function.
By using a tripod, holding your shots longer, limiting zooming and checking you focus you videos will look more professional and your viewers will appreciate your efforts as well.
Written by: Paul Hoad