basic tips for videography

Basic Videography Tips

You don't need to spend a lot of time on film making workshops or money on expensive video equipment to create professional and polished-looking videos. Becoming a videographer simply requires you to pay attention to a couple of key details that might not be obvious initially, and practicing the craft. The following basic videography tips can be very useful to you, whether you just want to create a blog that your viewers love to watch or you are producing a high-end production for thousands of people.

Many of these techniques and tips are timeless, meaning you can refer to them to guide you later even if you make the decision to pursue a videography career and become a cinematographer. Try these tips and memorize them. They can not only help you with producing more professional-looking videos along the way but also help you develop your very own creative style of film making and help you realize your full potential!

Collect Your Equipment

For beginners, we are fortunately living in a time where it is affordable to obtain high-quality digital cameras for both recreational and personal use. That means you can practice videography using devices you probably have already, like your smartphone. If you are using a phone just follow these simple tips:

  • Turn on the overlay grid that is on your screen, if you have one, to help you keep your phone level
  • Use the landscape mode for shooting (horizontally rather than vertically)
  • For higher quality footage, use the back camera

If your budget allows for it, we strongly recommend that you buy a gimbal stabilizer to use with your camera to provide steadier handheld shots, a sturdy video tripod, and an external microphone for improved audio.

equipment for recording videos

Plan Your Shots!

If you are planning on shooting a short film, commercial, or music video, then you will have a lot more freedom for planning it from the beginning to the end. To do it the way the professionals do, it is best to create a storyboard that has illustrations in sequence of all of your scenes. That will help you to pre-visualize what your final footage will look like so you can get your desired shots outlined. It can serve as a guide during both your shooting and editing processes, and it can help you figure out the best time to do your shooting, the right cameras to use (if there are several options available), and the best venues before you start to film.

However, if you have an event to cover, you will want to be as prepared as possible. For example, when it comes to wedding videography, the videographer needs to have a good idea of how and when to take videos of the wedding party as well as the bride and groom.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind with wedding videography:

  • Be sure that you are familiar with the entire timeline for the wedding day and have it memorized - from the wedding ceremony all the way to the reception.
  • Prepare a shot list. Your list should include cutting of the wedding cake, the first kiss, and other special moments that the couple will want to have immortalized.
  • Just like there are different styles of wedding photography, there are certain shooting styles as well for wedding videography. Stick with a certain style. Remain consistent and use the one that fits the event and couple the best for the ideal wedding video that they can enjoy for many years into the future.
  • Know how to use your camcorder! And where all of the settings are.

Know The Importance Of Lighting

One of the major secrets to being able to achieve professional-looking video is using lighting to tell your story. Try being as intentional as possible about your lighting during the conceptualization phase. Determine what kinds of lights you need as well as where you are going to place them in order to achieve your desired effect. Or if you happen to be a tight budget and need to work with existing lights (such as the sun and lamps), consider how you can make that work for your specific scene.

For example, for a dramatic-looking scene, you are going to want to have shadows in all of the right places. By contrast, having lots of light will add plenty of cheer as well as add an ethereal feeling, depending on how lights are placed.

Importance Of Lighting

Keep The Background Simple

Don't film just anywhere. Either use a basic background or remove as much clutter as possible to improve it. Many people use a solid-colored background - whether it is backdrop paper, a bed sheet, or a wall - and their subjects or themselves a couple of feet away in order to avoid casting shadows.

The key is minimizing elements that might make a scene appear cluttered and draw away attention from the subject. There are some story lines and themes that can benefit from a cluttered scene, however, you might want to focus on continuing to improve your basic videography skills and then start to experiment after that.

Improve Your Composition and Frames

A real professional might be able to spot an amateur's work during the initial couple of seconds of someone's video project even when high-end camera equipment has been used. So what is it that gives them away? Their lack of proper composition and framing.

Many beginners don't understand that there is more involved in quality videography (particularly cinematography) than simply aiming your camera at a subject or scene. It involves allowing and arranging visual elements so that they tell your story for you and change the framing of the camera to give the scene an aesthetically pleasing look.

One of the most important compositional rules and cinematic videography tips is the Rule of Thirds. This is where the subject's head is placed a bit higher (not in the center) of your frame to price some walking or visual breathing space when the sides are fact. Another important tip is to stay on the same side as two individual talking while taking over-the-shoulder shots and having a background and foreground that creates depth in a scene.

Rule Of Thirds

Correct Camera Placement

One common mistake made by beginners is not paying attention to how the focal length of the lens and the relative distance of the camera from the subject affect the scene's look. For close-up shots, don't ever place your camera near the subject since that can cause facial distortions that are quite unattractive and make it a lot harder to crop the edges out of a scene. It is a lot easier placing your camera a few feet away and then using your camera lens to zoom in carefully.

However, before you start zooming in with your camera, be aware that it should be done optically (using the lens) rather than digitally (pinch-zooming the screen. The latter can degrade your video clip's quality and potentially make them appear pixellated as well.

Although your camera's auto focus feature can be quite useful, it may ruin your recording whenever it goes in and of focus when trying to find your subject in scenes with dim lighting. The key here is using the focus/exposure lock that is on your smartphone or switching over to manual focus if you are using a standalone camera so that you can set the focus manually using your own eyes. 

Setting the focus also makes it possible to provide your videos with cool effects like using the rack focus techniques where different objects can be focused on successively (with assistance from a shallow depth of field where everything else is blurred out) to direct the attention of your viewer. When it is used correctly it can be a very powerful tool to use in your storytelling. 

Setting The White Balance

One of the major challenges that many professionals are faced with is color and temperature correction. When using multiple cameras for recording the same scene, the default color temperatures on the cameras might be different. Just imagine how distracting it could be to see alternating warm yellow and bluish clips? Make sure the white balance is set on all of your cameras before you start to record to produce more professional-looking, consistent clips. That will help to speed the editing process up and in the future reduce post-production expenses.

Bonus Tip: The "proper" white balance will depend on the output that you desire and is subjective. For example, you might want to intentionally set it so that it looks even colder to provide the scene with a more scary and chilly vibe. Use it to contribute to our story. Just make sure to consistent with every scene.

camera settings

The Right Amount Of Exposure

Another problem you might encounter while using multiple video cameras for filming a scene is wind up with clips with different exposure. The scene might appear to be brighter in one camera and darker in another if the same exposure settings are not used, like aperture, ISO levels, and frame rate. That is why there are t-stops on dedicated cine lenses which are exact aperture values, rather than the f-stop value which more theoretical and found on regular photography lenses.

For starters, it might be easier shooting in a controlled setting if you are a beginner where you have the same lighting at any time of day and the same camera is used with the exposure locked. Recording might take longer, but it will save you lots of headaches during post-production in try to correct the exposure.

Bonus Tip: If you need to shoot outside, do it on a clear day and quickly so the sun doesn't set on you and the clouds don't interfere with the lighting.

Use Cinematic Techniques

A video project that is truly professional-looking with incorporate a combination of basic camera movements that not only enhances your storytelling ability but can help to hold your viewers' interest as well. If you would like to raise our videography skills to the next level and truly impress your audience, then you might want to use a couple of cinematography techniques.

The technique that you decide to use is going to greatly depend on what your creativity level is and the way you would like to present your scenes. However, it is always a good die to choose only an essential few that can tell your story the best. Don't overdo and risk overwhelming your viewers with your visuals instead of telling your story. 

Avoid Taking Shaky Shots

Whether you dolly side to side, do a crane shot, or pan you don't want your shots to appear shaky. Apart from potentially making your footage appear like home videos, it could end up making people feel seasick as well. It is key to keep your camera on a steady surface such as a tripod.

After setting up your camera, do you best to not move it unless you absolutely need to. When you do need to start zooming or panning, treat your camera like it is a full cup of coffee - don't make any sudden stops and maintain a consistent speed.

Camcorder On Tripod

Timing Shots

The following are a couple of tips offered by professional cinematographers that are not often found in how-to articles: make sure that your shots are between 6 and 10 seconds to hold viewers' attention effectively. At the very same time, don't forget to keep all of your shots steady for 10 seconds at least, so don't do any zooming or panning before then. There are many beginners who have found these tips to be very helpful: to keep sequence simple in the post-production process, reduce recording time, and minimizing camera movements.

Shoot To Edit

This specific "professional tip" just means that while you are filming you should think like an editor. When you are recording a scene, capture a couple of "safety shots" and several angles so you have plenty to choose from later on. That will save you lots of effort and time that you spend otherwise on refiling and help to prevent you from having to set for shots that are subpar and that can make your work appear to be unprofessional.  

When you are editing, simple video editing software should be used first so that you can get accustomed to it before you move on to using a more complex program. The first step is transferring the video from the camcorder to your computer. Video editing is its own craft and will take lots of practice to perfect.

Conclusion

I hope that this basic videography tips can help you increase the quality of content you are producing. It takes time to master these skills, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. I suggest taking what you have learned and practice them. Practice Practice Practice! If you have any questions feel free to ask me. I am always trying to update our website with as much new content as possible, so be sure to check out our blog page!

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