From theory to practice, here is how to shoot great videos in 5 steps:
1. Tell a story
Before diving in, be clear on what you’re going for. The more you’re prepared, the better the quality of your material will be. You don’t want to jump in and realize you don’t know what shots you need, as it will make you look messy and unprofessional, and you’ll probably end up leaving without the material you need.
What are your client’s expectations and how are you going to meet them? What is the story you want to tell? Have you created a storyboard, even a short-and-sweet one, to determine the key elements to capture, and how?
By answering those questions, you’ll define your line of action when on location, and it will greatly help your final product.
2. Location, location, location
Knowing your filming environment is absolutely essential. But sometimes we are so excited, we wind up on location realizing we haven’t considered something that could be a showstopper.
I once had to film a fitness class at 6 p.m., indoors. I found out that same day that the room was not only in the basement but had poor lighting. I lost valuable time as the footage was too noisy, and I had to do it all over again.
Don’t hesitate to visit the location beforehand in order to assess it. And make sure to consider: Is it indoor or outdoor? Can you set a specific time to go shooting for a good light or will you need extra lighting? Are the clients aware you’ll be filming?
3. Copy to find your own style
While copying is often considered a bad thing, in videography, it’s a good way to grow while you learn a new skill.
Every successful artist got inspired by someone else’s work and then turned it into their own piece by adding their unique touch and personality. Especially as a beginner, your best shot at making things look great is to copy others.
Use Vimeo, YouTube, and other video platforms to see how others filmed what you are about to film, and then let yourself be inspired to copy the style you like.
4. Alternate framing and camera movement types
To give your video intention, as well as create emotion and enrich your content, there is nothing better than using a variety of frames and camera movements.
Closer shots are my personal favorite, whether it’s to capture an emotion or a product’s detail. Considering the limited attention span of most viewers, you need to entertain your audience greatly so they don’t get bored.
Ask yourself again: What is the intention? What am I trying to show? By choosing a certain type of framing (full shot, medium-long shot, close-up, extreme close-up, etc.) or movement (panning, tilting, traveling, sliding), your footage will tell a specific story.
Have you ever noticed the effect of a close shot with everything blurred in the background? It looks so professional.
I’m always trying to add a couple of those into my videos. The blurred background and in-focus foreground are strong compositional elements that focus attention right where you want it. It will certainly give your video that “wow” factor. You can also play with in- and out-of-focus shots.
5. Experiment tools and styles
Buying equipment doesn’t always require a big financial investment and can add a seriously professional look to your video.
Whether you go for a slider, a stabilizer or a time-lapse controller, the market is so competitive, you can find affordable options.
I found a handy 60cm slider for just over $100, and the wow factor I get when using it is definitely worth the investment.
Allow yourself to get creative. Once you have your main shots, try new things. For example, handheld shots are now very trendy. Adding a little camera movement can give a nice touch and make it look more “vibrant.”
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