8 Ways to Shoot Video like a Pro

Just about everyone – at one time or another, has wanted to shoot some sort of video. Nothing brings out the camcorders more than family and holidays, therefore you never know who may be behind the camera. There is so much more to creating good video than just busting the camera out and turning it on. Whether you are shooting home video, or are shooting a major production, these are some tips to help you shoot video like a pro would.

Know Your Camera

Take a look around at all the people who are great at their particular craft. They all have something in common. What is it? They all know the details of their craft inside and out. The same should be true for you as a Videographer.  The first step on the road to shooting video like a pro is to know your camera inside and out.  Read – then re-read, the owners manual. Shoot practice sequences with it. Shoot under different circumstances. Get to know all the functions of the camera.  Doing this will allow you to shoot better video on the go.

Always Be Prepared

If you really want to capture good video whenever the time arises, then make sure you are prepared. I am talking about equipment.  Nothing is worse than missing that great opportunity because you were not prepared with all the gear you needed.  Always have these items on hand:

  • A spare fully charged battery
  • Plenty of blank tapes or record discs
  • A tripod
  • Lenses and lens cleaning cloth
  • Power supply with an extension cord
  • Battery charger, if its separate from the power supply
  • Lighting gear
  • Microphones

Having these things will ensure you get great shots anytime you need to.

Tripod Use

You should know this if you don’t know anything else in this article. It is a given that by mounting your camera onto a tripod, you will get a steady shot, usually with a better angle. Tripods are a relatively inexpensive to purchase so there should be no excuse for not having one. The added mobility that the tripod will provide means that you’ll find it easier to do zooms and other tricks and techniques with the camera.

Lights

Lights, camera, action! What is the first word in that sentence? Lights! Lighting is a very important aspect of getting good video quality. If you are unfamiliar with the 3-point lighting technique, then I suggest you read about it in our “Tips on Proper 3-Point Lighting” article. If you are ever feeling unsure of whether you have enough light, an easy solution is to shoot outside. Shooting outside will usually give you a good amount of light to work with.  Although other considerations like harsh shadows must be considered if you’re shooting in full un-shaded sunlight.

Audio

Let’s not spend too much time here.  Just know this, dark shots and blurred shots can be forgiven, bad audio cannot. If your audience can’t hear your main subjects, then the video is almost worthless. You can purchase decently priced lavalier mics or handheld mics at any electronics store.

Setting Up Your Shots

Unless you are filming something on the fly – and had no idea you would be filming at that moment, it is always a good idea to set all your shots with proper composition in mind.  Using the “rule of thirds” will help you achieve this.

The rule of thirds is a compositional technique that divides the screen into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines.  The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align subjects within the frame.

Try Not to Use the Digital Zoom

All cameras have it, that little button that allows you to zoom in and out of the main subject in your shot.  Most zoom functions have 2 components; an optical zoom and a digital zoom.  When you first start zooming in you’re engaging the optical zoom.  This uses the physical glass and parts of the camera lens to change the composition of your shot.  If you continue to zoom the camera will begin to use the digital zoom, which will create a grainy looking image the more you use it.  Try to avoid the digital zoom if at all possible.

B-Roll

Shoot lots of it. You never know what you can use it for, and you will more than likely need it for something during post-production. There is no limit to how much b-roll a videographer should have.  B-roll consists of additional support material or footage that can be used in the edit suite to enhance the storyline you are producing.

Using these techniques will allow you to shoot excellent video. Remember, if you love doing it, you can accomplish it. Even if you have low-end equipment, these simple tips will allow you to shoot professional looking video. Enjoy!

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To download this article as a PDF > 8 Ways to Shoot Video Like a Pro

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