Tips to shoot great video

Video inspires and engages the viewer. Video also distills a large amount of data/information into digestible information.

So how do you go about creating a great video?

Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker prepare to shoot a video on how to eat a cupcake. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker prepare to shoot a video on how to eat a cupcake. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Great videos don’t just happen. They require advance work, known as preproduction. During preproduction you write a script and prepare storyboards. It’s important to know the audience and the purpose of the video. Finally, it’s important to check your equipment in advance of shooting.

Once you are ready to shoot, you are in the production phase. Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker of Virginia Tech shared several tips at a recent workshop I attended.

  1. Most of us are a bit shaky so their advice is to use a tripod or other means of stabilization such as leaning against a wall.
  2. If sound is critical to the video, then use a lavaliere microphone for interviews. This will ensure higher quality sound.
  3. When shooting it’s important to record each shot long enough to assist with ease of editing. Jarrad recommends staying in one spot for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Shoot in sequences. This means shooting a wide shot, then medium and then a close-up. Doing this enables you to provide context followed by more detail. Finally, you are able to go close-up and provide a poignant moment.
  5. Think about the beginning. Jarrad said, “You want to make the first 10 seconds count.” He noted that across the internet, video finish rates are poor. With that in mind, he also recommended skipping the title card, which takes up valuable seconds. Instead, to get your name included have individuals wear branded shirts or have appropriate signage in the background.
  6. As with any project, once you have finished shooting, be sure to transfer your footage to a backup drive. In fact, J. Scott urged using multiple digital storage solutions.

Video 101

Peter Soby of Soby Vision is a storyteller.

Only his tools are not pen and paper but rather a Canon XF300. He shoots videos.

Peter Soby

Peter Soby explains how to shoot good video. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

And because we’re such a visual society now, Soby says learning how to shoot basic video is critical for those in the communications field. “YouTube has made video that is a little rough okay,” he added.

He offered several tips for shooting good video during a NFPW seminar:

1) Make yourself a tripod – lean up against something.

2) Be loose. If you’re too tight your muscles will shake.

3) Know how all your stuff works. Be able to set up quickly. Practice. He said he practices with a giant stuffed animal in a business shirt. He comes into the room and quickly sets up his equipment and begins shooting video. Once he could do it quickly, he knew he could do it in situations where the subject only had a short time for the interview.

4) Shoot sequence shots. “You shoot this way because our eyes are looking all over,” Soby said. “This will immediately make the video look better.” He noted that most people new to video shoot a lot of medium shots. Instead, shoot wide (to capture the entire scene), medium and tight (close up on the subject or on the action).

5) Use an external microphone because it will make the sound better.

After you shoot the video, what next? He recommends becoming familiar with the video editing software that comes with your computer, such as Windows Moviemaker or iMovie. For even better quality, you may want to buy a professional editing package.