What editing CAN’T fix

Once, I had a client, who asked me to fix his video. The footage was recorded with the lens cover on. Yes, it is permanent damage, but not every video mistake is so obvious. I gathered the most common video mistakes, that people often believe, can be fixed at editing.

clarify video

Wild Whips

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.

Video Resolution

If low resolution was selected in your camcorder, when you began recording, the footage will be recorded accordingly. If you selected a poor resolution, your footage will have poor resolution too. There is no way to increase the resolution of the existing footage.

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.

Too much zooming

Let’s start with an experiment. Put down your camcorder. Now, look through one of your eyeballs (or both if you are feeling ambitious) and attempt to zoom in on an object in the vicinity. Concentrate. No luck? Don’t take it too hard. It’s not a natural way to make an object larger on the screen. It’s handy as heck, but it’s not natural. Only use it to make your subject more prominent in the screen if you can’t or don’t want to get physically closer (when shooting subjects like mountains in the distance, or that snarling Rottweiler next door), but don’t zoom as a shooting technique. Limit zooming to a minimum.

Faulty Framing

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.

Video Backlighting

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.

Need help clarifying your video? We can help you make the best of it.


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