I recently taught a couple of workshops on photography and videography for beginners to some of our communicators. It’s amazing how advanced technology allows us to produce good videography by just knowing some of the basics.
Now does this mean that you will never need a professional videographer – absolutely not! Professional videographers have thousands of hours of training and can see things that you and I would never catch.
And I don’t claim to be an expert at this at all. I’m just passing along the basics that I’ve learned and that I believe will help you capture better video while you are on the farm or at the restaurant/market.
Here are seven tips that I’ve picked up on videography – I hope they help you out.
STOP – IF YOU ARE USING YOUR PHONE TO RECORD VIDEO, HOLD IT HORIZONTALLY. ALSO YOU NEED TO SHOOT ALL B-ROLL AND PHOTOS (for the video) THIS WAY!!!!
1. Lighting is everything.
You need good lighting. What makes good lighting? Indirect natural sunlight is awesome. Then after that sunlight. Gray days can be really good as well because they will make the shadows less harsh.
The problem with this video is that the sun is making her squint, but if the sun were behind her we wouldn’t see her face. So, I guess it’s not all bad. (And depending on what she’s talking about – like if she’s experiencing tough times or a rough situation, squinting is a good thing.)
2. Frame your subject to the left or right (try not to center).
There’s a Rule of Thirds in photography that basically wants you to put your subjects on the intersecting lines of the nine boxes created by a grid.
With videography, you definitely don’t want to center so you have the opportunity to put more information on the screen if necessary and it also makes the composition more interesting to the eye.
3. Mic them up because you need great sound.
While cameras and phones have come a long way in the past few years with video, they still have issues with picking up sound. You are better off to getting a good microphone (wired or directional) to get some good quality sound from your subjects. Without it your video will suck.
4. Look at the background first and add depth if you can.
This video has some great depth and strong diagonals to help the eye. You want to make the background as interesting as possible without being too busy (background movement will distract the viewer from the subject) so scouting your location for lighting, sound and background is all very important. Be intentional about your environment unless you can’t be.
5. B-Roll is awesome. Get some and then get some more.
B-Roll keeps the viewer from getting bored and helps explains your subject’s words. While you can talk about kids dumping milk into a metal canister, the ability for them to see tells them a whole lot more about the entire process.
I usually try and add b-roll around every 4-6 seconds. When you capture b-roll, get at least 5-10 seconds worth a shot. You can always trim it down.
P.S. A pro once told me that he used extensive b-roll to keep people engaged especially when filming a boring or stutter-filled speaker. You can only edit a rough subject so much.
6. A cheap tripod is worth its weight in gold.
Some cheap tripods aren’t, but almost all tripods will help keep a stable, steady shot when you need it. Take the time to get one and it will save you a lot of hassle especially when you are shooting multiple subjects in the same place – a place with good lighting and excellent sound quality.
7. Zoom, zoom, zoom is for Miatas – not your audience.
I know it’s fun to play with auto zooms (bringing things in and out of the frame), but I would forgo it unless you have a serious need to act like a filmmaker. If you want to zoom in and out, try lining up a different shot, zoom in or out to how you want the shot, and have them say the same thing. Or get another phone/camera and shoot at the same time. Then you’ll have more angles to chose from.
When it comes to good videography, being intentional is very important with your shots but don’t kill yourself over one video interview. Take lots and lots of them and sort through the ones you don’t like. That’s what is so awesome about today’s technology. Get lots of practices, definitely take a few classes if you have time and keep producing those amazing videos.
Also, if you need help with video editing, I have a quick tutorial on editing with iMovie on an iPhone 6.
If you have a tip you want to share feel free to leave a comment or email me at don.schindler (at) gmail.com.
If you want to use my deck, you can download it from Slideshare.