There’s nothing like the holidays to make us take out our camcorders and try to shoot some family videos. But chances are, you’re probably not that good. There’s a lot more to creating good quality videos than just pressing Record on your camcorder. To create decent, watchable videos, you need to know the basics of videography. We will share eight tips that will put you on your way to creating videos that your friends and family will enjoy watching.

1. Know Your Equipment

A good videographer knows his camcorder. Get to know the menu structure and features your camera might have. Whenever you need to start recording quickly, you should be able to adjust the shutter speed, autofocus or whatever else is necessary to capture the best images and not miss the moment. In other words, before operating your camera, read the manual.

2. Be Prepared

Whenever you go anywhere to shoot video, here are some things you should bring with you:

  • One or more charged spare battery
  • Lens-cleaning cloth. Regardless of how careful you are, the lens is probably gonna eventually get dirty.
  • Tripod.
  • Battery charger/power supply.
  • Lighting gear, lens filters, microphones and other accessories you might have.

3. Use a Tripod

There’s nothing harder to watch than shaky footage. Although post-production software can somewhat stabilize it, it can’t fix it completely. Also, don’t rely on your camera’s digital image-stabilization, it will lower the video resolution by cropping to the center of the frame. By using a tripod, even a cheap one, will guarantee you will have steady footage.

4. Raise the Lights

Proper lighting is key to producing good videos. Most home camcorders do a terrible job in poor light conditions, producing grainy, washed-out footage. Try shooting outdoors where there is more ambient light. But avoid shooting outside when the sun is at its brightest, it will cast shadows and overexpose your shots.

5. Ace the Audio

Good quality audio is right there behind lighting, in second place as the most important aspect of video recordings. The camera’s built-in mic might be ok for home videos, but anytime you want to produce a more professional video, external mics is a must. There are many different types of external microphones available, each one is made for a specific purpose. For example, omni-directional microphones are good for the auditorium or large rooms. A lavalier mic is good for sit-down-interviews. Therefore it depends on what you will be shooting to determine the type of microphone is best to use.

6. Set up Your Shots

Setting up proper shots means obeying the “rule of thirds”. Never keep a person in the very center of your frame. Always have him either towards the right or left side of the frame. Also, don’t use the camera’s built-in video effects when shooting. It’s better to add any color corrections and effects later in a post.

7. Avoid Digital Zoom

If your camera has the feature of digital zoom, either turn it off completely or forget that it’s there and never use it. The only type of zoom you can use is optical zoom since it won’t lower your resolution. Using digital zoom means the camera is just digitally enlarging your footage, lowering the resolution and making the end result highly pixelated.  

Final Thoughts

Shooting good video footage takes a lot of practice and knowledge. So don’t worry if at first, your videos won’t turn out that good. Don’t give up, use the tips we outlined above and keep striving to perfect your videography skills.

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