Four Essential Tips for Better Video in 2010

4 Essential Tips for Better Video in the New Year

So you got a spanky new HD Video camera from Santa this year? Congrats! Now here are a few quick tips to help you get some great footage, so you don't bore us all to death on YouTube.

Tripod – Bigger is Better

Probably my biggest pet peeve and the number one factor that will make your video hard to watch is shaky footage. Your camera may come with a cute little hand strap, or may be able to fit inside your pocket, but please try to use a tripod whenever possible.

Tripods, or “sticks” as they are sometimes refereed to in the business, come in many shapes and sizes but the general rule of thumb is: you get what you pay for. The bigger the better when it comes to tripods and the more expensive ones are going to be solid as a rock, giving you rock steady footage.

When shooting video you want to look for fluid head, which is basically a tripod head that moves in two directions; pan (left to right) and tilt (up an down). The head is actually filled with fluid to give you silky smooth shots.

Sound Advice

Getting great sound is almost as important to video as getting amazing footage. The little mic on the front of your camera just ain't going to cut it. A lot of cameras have an jack for an external mic, or have an option to add a mic to the hotshoe. This is definitely a great investment.

If you do a lot of interviews with people you might even consider a little lavalier mic to hook on their shirt, which gives you great sound and if you don't buy the wireless versions, are not very expensive.

Once you have a better mic, the key is to get as close as you can (you know, without getting to “paparazzi” on your friends and family). If you get up close you will get more of the sound of the person and less of the other noise in the room.

Know Your Camera

Today's cameras are packed with cool little features from night shooting, to time lapse options. Most of us rarely take the time to move beyond the basic controls of turn it off and on. For example one of the most overlooked features is setting your white balance.

White balance corrects different colour casts given from various light sources (ie household light bulbs make everyone look orange). Auto white balance is the default but you can also change the setting to give your footage a different look, or boost the colours in a sunset for example. Have fun and play around with the features, just remember to turn them back to normal when your finished, so all your people don't look like Soylent Green.

Editing (Tell A Story)

Probably the biggest mistake most of make is to let the camera roll from one angle and capture hours of footage. One of the biggest things you can do to make people say “Wow, that was great!” when watching your video, instead of falling into a deep slumber, is taking the time to edit your video before sharing it with others.

We all have basic video editors built into our computers for free (Windows Movie Maker on PC and iMovie for Mac) and a lot of cameras come with editing software, so there is no excuse not to edit your work. Try to steer away from the crazy transitions that these programs offer and stick to straight cuts or simple cross fades between clips.

To help you when you sit down to edit, be sure to shoot lots of footage at different angles and try to tell a story. If you are covering your son/daughters hockey game for example, grab a few shots of them packing up the gear, getting in the car, lacing up the skates as well as the usual game footage. This will make your job a lot easier when you hit the editing room.

I hope your 2010 is filled with great stories for you to tell through your lens and as always, feel free to e-mail your ideas for topics you would like to see covered in the coming year.