This short article will highlight the 3 most important tips for making a good quality, but cheap video. Use these along with the tools detailed on the free video editing website and you could be the next Spielberg, Scorsese or (if you’re really ambitious), James Cameron…
Tip 1: Plan your shots in advance so they edit together
Garbage in – Garbage out. If you shoot hours of footage without some sort of plan you’ll end up with hours of useless footage. Shoot with a plan in mind.
Knowing in advance what shots you need (or want) will make it easier when editing to create something your audience will want to watch. After all you do want an audience to watch your video effort, don’t you?
This is very difficult to do unless you have a script to follow. But it will pay dividends when editing. Suppose you’ve gone to SeaWorld for the day. Make sure that as well as following what people are doing in your party you also try and get some of the little shots that will make it all fit together. For example, as you enter Sea World, make sure you get a static shot of the big sign outside that says “Sea World”. It will come in useful later to help tell your story. As you are all watching Shamu perform in the big whale tank, make sure you turn the camera on the audience and get some good reaction shots. These help sell the scene and they also act as good cover-ups when you need to cut between to shots that don’t quite fit.
Tip 2: Use a good, solid tripod
Shakeycam is bad (Unless you mean it). Get a good solid foundation for your camera with a tripod
Nothing screams ‘amateur’ more than shaky video footage. Take a random look at any YouTube video and chances are you’ll see one or more of the following things happening: Shaking, excessive zooming, lots of panning (moving side to side) and bad focus. In the heat of the moment it’s often easy to forget that what looks good when you are there often looks atrocious when you view it back on screen
Get yourself a good tripod and use it. This will give you a firm foundation for your footage. It will allow you to frame your shot well and keep it framed. Avoid using the zoom unless absolutely necessary. Tripods for video camera’s are different to still camera tripods. But if a still camera tripod is all you’ve got then that will have to do.
If you can’t get a good tripod use the following alternatives:
1. Stand with your back against something firm and hold the camera to your body. Regulate your breathing
2. Use a wall or other stationary fixture to balance the camera on.
3. Place the camera on a soft bag or squashed jumper to provide a firm base
4. Hold the camera at your waist or against your body rather than at arms length or head height.
Remember the objective is to reduce movement, however possible.
Tip 3: Frame Your Shot well
It’s easy to tell the amateur cameraman from the professional one: The amateur uses lots of zooms and pans. Stay away from this!
Well framed shots draw the viewer into the action. A badly framed shot will jar the viewer out of the moment and ruin your movie. How many times have you watched a movie and seen, for example, a microphone boom appearing in shot? Didn’t it ruin things for you?
Well framed shots use what’s know as ‘The Rule of Thirds’. The theory is that if you split your frame into three both horizontally and vertically the main action should occur where the lines meet. If, for example, you are shooting a sunset, make sure the horizon lines up at the bottom third of your shot rather than in the middle. The difference is very subtle, but noticeable.
The other secret with framing is to make sure you only show the absolute minimum you have to in order to tell the story. Frame things as tight as you can. Don’t have extraneous movement of the camera. This includes those nasty pan-and-zoom shots we mentioned earlier on. Shots like that will just make your audience sick.
With the 3 tips in this article you are well on your way to making better videos!