5 Tips To Help You Film Better Videos

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Never before has video content been so important and as prevalent. With the ubiquity of smart phones and along with that the ability to shoot 1080 and even 4k video right from the palm of your hand, it has never been easier to create quality content. By some estimates video is on track to account for upwards of 80% of internet traffic. That would have us sharing nearly a million minutes of video every second. With an overwhelming amount of content, it becomes tougher to stand out from the crowd. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need to rush out and spend thousands on the newest DSLR. 

Filmmaker Nigel Webber and Winnipeg Folk Festival new media coordinator Terry Proveda joined us to talk video content and creation for our DIY Series: Through the Videographer’s Lens session in the fall. Here’s a few tips for getting better video without breaking the bank…

1. Use a tripod

You may think that you’re holding your cell phone still but you aren’t. Seriously. The only sure way to cure that is to prop your camera up on something, ideally a tripod. Alternatives to a tripod include a monopod, the popular flexible Gorillapod, even sturdy place to lean your camera will achieve the effect. A still frame will immediately raise the perceived production value of your shots. You can get a good one for not too much money. 

2. Consider Your Lighting

Next time you pull out your camera, consider the environment you’re in for a second. Is it dark? Is it sunny? Overcast? If your shots are too dark, you’ll lose detail and definition. If your subject is standing in direct sunlight your shots will be blown out.

You can’t control the sun, but you can move around inside your environment to create more favourable lighting conditions. Try stepping into the shade to see how that looks. If you’re inside, consider moving some lamps around to help light up whatever you’re trying to shoot.

Again, you don’t need to fork out a fortune for fancy photo lights, whatever illumination devices you may have at your disposal will suffice to brighten things up a little.

3. Use the rule of thirds

In film (and photography), the rule of thirds is a simple composition concept that helps you to place your subject or point of interest in best position inside the frame of your photograph.

Imagine splitting the frame of your shot into three equal divisions, both horizontally and vertically. In doing this, you end up with nine smaller sections and four intersecting lines. Most digital cameras, including the one on your phone, have an option to turn on a grid which will superimpose these lines on your screen. Though you may be inclined to put your subject smack dab in the middle of your frame, the reality is that the human eye is drawn more easily to one of those four intersecting lines or along the horizontal or vertical lines. Shots with overly centered objects have a tendency to feel awkward or stiff.

Try lining up faces or subjects on those points of intersection or, for outdoor shots, balancing the horizon along one of the horizontal lines.

Follow this link for a more in-depth look at how to use the rule of thirds in your shots. 

4. Step Up Your Audio

As musical folks, it’s surprising that we often overlook audio quality, considering that it's such an important aspect in the production value of a recording.

When you’re using your phone to capture video you should keep in mind that the camera is designed to capture your voice when you’re speaking right beside it. The moment you step away from it there is a noticeable degradation in the audio quality.

Fear not, here are a couple of suggestions to help you capture a better sound:

  • Use a second smart phone, placed closer to your subject, to record a voice memo while you are recording your video. Then add the audio to your video with your handy dandy video editing software of choice.
  • Invest in one of the many options for add on microphones that you can attach to your phone or your digital camera. Check this link for some comparisons: www.micreviews.com/guides/top-10-best-ios-microphones
  • Record the audio separately with a stand-alone recorder (check here for examples)
  • Record the audio separately with mics run through an interface into your laptop, essentially a multi-track recording.

5. Use multiple cameras

If you’re going to be filming something that you have an opportunity to edit afterwards, why not experiment with getting multiple camera angles? Grab a friend’s smartphone and set it up to get another angle that you can use to cut between to add a new dynamic element to your video. You can use multiple cameras to take advantage of a mix of close and far shots, or to focus in on something particular. If you’re filming an acoustic performance you could set-up a camera at a distance and another to focus in on the actual guitar playing. After you’ve captured what you’re filming you can take the video into a variety of video editing software to switch between different angles. Most computers come with rudimentary software that will allow you to do simple edits.

Hopefully you can put some of these tips to use in your next video. Now get out there and hit record...

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