Shooting Your Video

By now you know we’re trying to keep this simple. That’s true as well when it comes to shooting your video. Here are some simple principles to help you:

  • Set your camera on auto focus and auto aperture control. Plenty of time later for you to do this manually. Right now, let the camera worry about that so you won’t have to.
  • With rare exception, you’ll want to keep each shot short. If your video is a talking head (one where the bulk of the video is a picture of one person talking), that shot itself will be a long one, but the visuals you shoot to accompany it should be no more than 20 seconds per shot.
  • Video cameras are funny about starting and stopping. If you turn your camera on and someone starts talking right away, you may lose their first words (or first actions). One way to minimize this risk is to coach the talent to wait two beats before beginning their action. You turn the camera on and get it running. Make sure you like your shot. Then say “two beats and go.” Your subjects usually won’t wait long enough, so make sure you’re basically ready when you give them the okay. Then when your action finishes and you know you have your shot, let the camera run another two beats or so before you press the stop button. This will give you a much better chance of having a usable shot. If you’re shooting “person-in-the-street” interviews, and if you have a fairly steady stream of people to interview, the safe way to do it is to just let the camera run. Tilt the camera down to the floor until you’re ready for the next interview. This will help you in editing, because it will make it easier to spot when interviews start and stop.
  • As you’re shooting people, it’s more interesting to the audience to see three close-ups that last one second each than a shot of three people that lasts for three seconds. Look for eyes. If your audience can see eyes, they’ll find your program more interesting and be able to identify more easily with the subjects of your video.
  • Most camcorders have serviceable on-board microphones, and our HF R600 is no exception. The camcorder’s sound will be disappointing, however, if you’re more than eight feet from the person speaking (even closer if there’s any background noise). You can shoot your visuals from any distance that’s convenient, but you’ll want to stay close to anyone whose words you want your audience to understand.
  • Be careful about shooting in windy weather. Our ears are amazingly good at filtering out wind noise, but Canon’s not as good at this as God is, so you may have to work to minimize wind noise. The editing equipment we use has some rudimentary filtering capability, but don’t expect miracles. If you must shoot in windy conditions, we have equipment that will help you with audio quality, but it makes shooting more complicated. The best way to eliminate wind noise on your first videos is to avoid shooting in the wind.
  • If possible, try to shoot in cloudy weather or with the sun behind you. If the weather is partly cloudy, be careful about cutting abruptly from one shot where your subject is in full sun to another in which the sun is behind a cloud.
  • When you’re beginning, never zoom during a shot. We know this sounds fussy, but newcomers to video always overuse the zoom. The easiest way to solve this problem is the simplest. Don’t use zoom at all during a shot.
  • While we’re at it, be sparing with any camera movement during a shot, unless it’s simply to follow action as it happens. Pans (moving the camera side to side) and tilts (moving the camera up and down) are easy to overuse.
  • When you stop one shot and start another, be careful about avoiding a “jump cut,” where the subject appears to jump quickly from one shot to another. The best way to minimize this risk is to vary your angle somewhat between shots. For example, if you finish with a bust shot of your subject, perhaps the next shot could be a close-up of your subject’s hands or a picture of someone else reacting to them. If you’ll be showing the same part of your subjects body from one shot to the next, you’ll have to be careful to make sure they’re in the same position from shot to shot.
  • When you’ve finished all your shooting in a particular place, take a moment and just let the camera run for a few seconds with no one speaking. This “room tone” sometimes helps us when we need to insert some space in a program and don’t want the sound to drop out suddenly.
  • After you’ve finished shooting, hook the camera up to your television set and watch all your footage to make sure you have all the images you need. Make sure you use your television set instead of the little monitor on your camera, because the TV will give you a big enough image so you can see problems with focus, unwanted movement, etc. that might not be apparent on the camera monitor.
  • Carefully write down which images you want to use and in what order. Your editing task will be much simpler if you have done this before you begin.

Back Planning Your Video

Next: Editing Your Video