5 Tips to Ensure Your Video Doesn't Suck

...just in time for the new year

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Making sure you have the basics covered is a must, yet over and over again we sometimes see the basics missing in the work we come across. Whether it's in a documentary, a short or simply your demo reel, making sure you're video doesn't suck is key to landing that gig you've always wanted. So with the new year, let's start a new list of what shouldn't be lacking in any of your 2015 projects. 

* Avoid unnecessary zooming:

The sure fire sign of an amateur is fast and frequent zooming. It is distracting, unnecessary and can even be nauseating when the picture gets extra shaky. When you are zoomed in close, even the slightest tremor in your hand can make the image look unstable. Make sure to get physically close to your target as much as you can. Don’t keep zooming in and out; choose an angle and stick with it the majority of the time. And when you do need to zoom, just try to do it slow & steady. 

* Capture B-Roll:

Instead of showing only people speaking, you should also have other images you can cut away to that will add dimension to your story later on in the editing process. B-roll can include additional video footage, photographs, animation or other elements.

It sounds easy, but b-roll is something that should not be taken for granted. It truly can make the difference between a boring video filled with chatter, or an engaging video that keeps the viewers’ attention. You can never capture enough. 

* Sound

While people will tolerate the worst quality video images, they will rarely watch programs that have bad audio. Make sure your sound and audio is crisp and clear, it can make a world of a difference. 

Sound can be your best friend and most effective way for you to communicate your story.
Always try to get about 10-15 seconds of sound in each environment you are shooting – this will come in hand during the editing process later.

* Lighting:

The lighting techniques in your video will make a big impact on the quality of your overall project.

Always remember: 
Back lighting reveals form, hard lights create hard-edged shadows, soft lights create soft-edged shadows and the larger the light source, the softer the light.

* Get a Tripod:

While some video pros have mastered the “shaky cam” look, you might not have. Do yourself and your viewers a favor and invest in a good tripod for smooth and steady shots.

If you take your camera work seriously, then you won't overstate the importance of a good tripod. Quality tripod kits do more than just hold your camera up. They support composition, perspective, and provide smooth pan/tilt movements.

image source: Patty Mooney of Crystal Pyramid Productions

content sources: Life HackerWitness TrainingIzzyVideo, BHPhotoVideo

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  • Greg said…
    Saturday, February 7, 2015 9:27 AM
    Even before you follow these tips here are some other useful tips that I've used for over 25 years.

    1. Plan your shoot - Consider writing up a shot list that works with your script or project treatment. Then convert your shot list into a shooting order document. This way you can check off each shot, and make sure that you've shot everything necessary in each location. This save time and keeps your crew on the same page.

    2. Shoot reaction shots - This includes facial shots, especially close-ups of your talent listening, nodding, and reacting. Maybe shots of their hands doing something, or shots of products on their own, if that's what you’re shooting. These shots can save you during editing.

    3. Shoot establishing shots - These include wider shots to show where you are shooting. This helps put things in perspective for the viewer. For example, if a shot calls for someone walking out of a door, perhaps shoot a wide shot of a hallway, or building so the viewer can connect where this scene is.

    4. Shoot back-ups when possible - It's important to not drastically "overshoot" but make sure that you have a back-up take of most shots. You'll be happy you did this.

    Greg Ball, President
    Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
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