Common mistakes, when filming special occasions
Anybody can record videos – the billions of hours of rubbish on YouTube proves that. Want to make a film that people actually want to watch? Or create a lasting memory? Films capture sounds as well as sights, and give insights in a different way to written accounts. Here are the most common filming mistakes found in home videos, such as birthday and anniversary videos; and easy tips to avoid them.
Some people like to talk with their hands. Sometimes the camcorder is in their hand and rolling when that is happening. The result: a weaving, bobbing, unsteady mess that would make a deep-sea sailor blanch. Or you might have a habit of pointing a camcorder like it was a flashlight or a garden hose, “What’s that over there?” (whip pan) “Hey, look at that!” (whip pan) “Ooh, pretty colors.” (whip pan). This may not have the effect you had in mind. Even worse are the people who never stop at all, but just flow back and forth over the scene as if they were spray-painting it with the camera. Please land somewhere and stay a while.
If the wrong resolution or video format was selected in your camcorder, the footage will be recorded accordingly. If you selected a poor resolution, your footage will have poor resolution too. What does the number of the resolution mean? In short, the number represents the number of horizontal lines the video has from top to bottom. A 480p video is made up of 480 lines stacked one on top of another, with each line being 852 pixels wide – that’s what it means when people say a video’s resolution is 852×480. Accordingly, a 720p video has 720 lines that are each 1,280 pixels wide, meaning that it is more than twice as sharp as a similar 480p video and can be viewed on a much larger screen. Whenever possible, choose the highest possible resolution, (and don’t forget to upgrade your storage space accordingly), try to use HD settings, whenever possible.
The audience of your video can only see what you show them. You have a responsibility to keep the subject in the frame. When you are capturing video of people, there is a rule of thumb to make sure you have them composed correctly: keep the eyes of your subject about a third of the way down from the top of the screen. This works if you have a head-to-toe shot of the person and it works if you have an extreme close-up where the person’s face fills the frame. The eyes are in the same relative position. Recently, I had a client, who asked me to edit a video where half of the speaker’s head was out of the frame. There isn’t a pretty way of fixing that.
Cameras with automatic exposure will attempt to adjust your picture so that it looks as good as possible under a certain lighting condition. If you point your camera at a bright light source (such as the sun or a bright window when you are indoors) the camera will adjust the aperture of the lens to compensate. If your subject is sitting on the ledge of the window when this happens, you might be able to see things outside, but your subject will probably be a dark silhouette without detail. Your gear may have a backlighting feature to compensate (by overexposing the background) or you could try to add light your subject (this is not easy), but the best solution might be to move your camera to avoid dealing with the bright background.
Filming with smartphones
Nothing ruins great footage like having two black vertical bars along both sides of your video. To avoid this amateur mistake, make sure to use landscape orientation and not portrait orientation while recording. Not only does landscape make your video seem more aesthetically pleasing in general, it’ll also make it more enjoyable to watch when viewed on a widescreen or television. Plus, you’ll capture more in the actual video. So just remember: never hold your phone vertically while recording, unless you really like or want those vertical black bars included.
Listen for background noise in the location in which you plan to shoot. Even subtle sounds, such as air conditioning, traffic, a TV or conversation in an adjacent room, can prove distracting. Turn off those noisemakers you can control, minimizing the impact of audio “clutter.” Try to stay as close as you can to the source of the audio, you want to record with your footage.
Mount your camcorder or phone on a tripod whenever you can. When you make any movement, it can translate either to jumpy motion, noise or both. At times, when you can’t use a tripod, try to hold the phone with both hands and rest your elbows to something to minimize any movement.
Make sure the camera or phone is in focus. The focus should be on the object or person, you are recording. Have you noticed? After you start recording, someone walks into the picture, but the camera is already focused in on something else, and the person walking into the picture might appear blurry.
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