Shootingstars – Quick tips for shooting great videos


With camcorders and mini DV cams getting cheaper by the month, users are picking them up faster than ever. Once you are a proud owner of a camcorder, you cannot wait to shoot videos and capture all your magical moments. Like any other electronic gadget, a camcorder also needs to be handled in a particular mannerto get the best results. Without learning the basics of video shooting and effective use of camcorders, the results can be disappointing. Often you end up complaining about the bad quality of the video recorder or blaming the light conditions while the fault lies on the methodology and technique used to capture the video. Here we have gathered some basic tips that should go a long way in helping beginners get their act right and record good video clips. The tips apply to all types of video recorders be it the tape-based camcorders orthe Mini DVs.

Get acquainted
So you bought a spanking new camcorder, and now all you want is a great video clip to check out the quality. Well, chances are you will be a little disappointed because you either did not activate the right mode forthe light conditions or you zoomed too much, or the focusing was not correct. The answer to these problems is the manual, the quick setup guide or online tutorial that can help you get up close and personal with your camcorder.

Each of these video recorders are mighty powerful and are packed with a lot of features. You first need to to study the device, and ensure that you understand all you the features of the camcorder. Experimenting with the features while shooting a video is the best way to know the functionality in realtime.

For example, you must be aware of the “nightshot” feature in your camcorder that lets you shoot videos in dark. The same mode used during daytime will ruin your video for sure. So check for the indication on the LCD and make sure you know what each and every icon on the LCD signifies and what modes the camcorder can operate on.

Avoid zooming in and out too much
The camcorder screams of a mammoth 20x optical zoom; although it surely sounds fun, don’t get too carried away. Zooming when using a digital camera is not the same as doing the same with a camcorder. When using a digital camera, you capturethe frame after you have zoomed on it and got the focus right. But in case of camcorders, you are recording the video while zooming, which means a sudden zoom can throw the video out of context, especially when the camcorder takes a second or two to regain its focus on the scene. Beginner videos are invariably full of extensive zoom in and zoom out which makes little sense and so even if you must use it, do it slowly. A slow, well-controlled zoom is much more professional looking than a quick zoom. Another tip we suggest is that you restrict the usage of the zoom in between scenes.

Smooth operator
The camcorder is a powerful device but nothing can match the human eye and hence when you quickly turn around to see what is happening behind you, don’t expect your camcorder to do the same and deliver fantastic results. Panning has to be slow and smooth. The camcorder can capture video at certain frame rates (typically 30 fps-45 fps) and hence rapid movements from one scene to another will result in a blurry video which looks uglyand unprofessional.The pause button on the camcorder is least used by beginners although it is a very useful and important aspect Pausing a video and resuming it from the next scene avoids the blur and also gives a fresh perspective. Also, when using zoom, you can pause the recording, first zoom in to the scene without worrying about a blurred video and resume recording. Simple and very effective!

Keep it steady!
While shooting videos our hands tend to vibrate a little. If the vibration is too much, it will badly affect the quality of the video footage. There are two ways to overcome this. One way is to do it in the manner adopted by the professionals—get a good tripod stand. These can be obtained at an affordable price in the market. Another way is to brace yourself against something like a wall, or perhaps stoop down on your knee while filming. The videos get more blurry when you use maximum zoom because when using max optical zoom, the lens is extremely sensitive to any kind of movement, and hence though it might seem that you have captured a steady shot, the results might hint of blur. Camcorders using optical image stabilization are smarter in countering the blur, but don’t bank on them to give you a steady shot while you dance the funky chicken. Use a tripod instead for rock steady videos.

Light is one of the most important factors when it comes to video capturing. You need to keep the basics in mind. The source of light should always be behind you as this ensures maximum light on the subject and optimum visibility. The light source falling straight on the lens will deliver dark and poor quality videos. Also keep in mind the shadows, especially when shooting indoors when the light source is behind you and hence in all probability your own shadow be an obstruction on the subject or the scene that has to be captured. The trick is to shoot the video at an angle where the shadow is avoided. Your camcorder might have a nightshot mode, but don’t take it for granted. It is not always as effective as it seems to be and hence it is not advisable to always bank on it. You need to take a few sample shots and check the quality instead of going ahead with the entire shoot and ending up with a dark blurry video.

Be a storyteller
When you share your videos with your friends and family, you are telling a story, bringingthem close to what you have experienced thing and thereby making them feel a part of the event. This is where creativity is required. Starting a scene abruptly on a restaurant table will call for a million questions about where the scene was shot and the whereabouts of the venue. A smarter way of filming the scene is to start with a wide angle of the restaurant, the ambience and then slowly zooming on the subject, giving a perspective of the entire situation. It lends the required depth to the scene and makes the video very impressive.


Similarly, when shootingfamily vacations, always look for a landmark, a sign or natural monument that tells the audience where you are. For example, if you are visiting the Gateway of India, ft would make sense to first give the bigger picture of the venue, the busy atmosphere and then entering a scene where you set on a sail. This way your video would give a larger picture of the setting. Engaging the subject is also very important, the videos look lively if you get them to speak, smile and interact.

Short and dinamic
As a rule of thumb, never ever shoot long, drawn out video clips of more than 2 minutes. It bores the audience to death. Using several short clips of 5 to 10 seconds is much more effective. It also brings variety to the audience watching the video. Long shoots of the same scene can get very boring and the audience might just lose interest. Make sure you cutthe scene to a new background and then bring your audience back to the prime scene. Always change your perspective, don’t limit your shots to one angle only. Approach your subject from all angles. Come from behind, come from the top and so on. Experimenting with scenes and angles can deliver some interesting videos and this way you get a a platform to showcase your creativity also.

Conserve battery
Video recording is much more intense than shooting stills with a digital camera. Optical zoom, image stabilization and night modes are very useful but also very resource hungry, taking a toll on the battery. The first step is to conserve the battery by only using these features when required and also pausingthe camera when not required. Camcorders also offer battery saving modes that need to be fine tuned according to personal preference and usage. The second and most important step is to carry backup battery packs and a charger. You don’t want to end up with a drained camcorder when you need it the most.


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