Shoot the player

HD video recording has become a ubiquitous feature on today’s compact cameras and DSLRs, so we thought it was about time we gave you the low down on how to make the best of your camera’s HD video. Here’s our top tips for shooting great movies.

Steady as she goes…
Shooting hand-held is no easy task- even the pros find it difficult to maintain a steady shot. If you must shoot handheld remember to keep the camera in close to your body. Use the viewfinder rather than the screen where possible, as it adds another point of contact for steadiness and plant your feet… moving and shooting handheld usually looks terrible unless you have a steadicam.

Three legs good
A tripod is your best friend. Make sure to buy one that has separate lockable pan and tilt mechanisms and a fluid ball head as it makes for far smoother panning action and the ball head will allow you to level your camera before you begin shooting.

Frame up
No matter how schmick your camera is, your video footage will never look any good unless you get your framing right. Obviously as a photographer you know the basic rules of composition such as the rule of thirds, but how about the difference between a close-up and an extreme close-up, wide shots, mid shot, two shots, establishing shots and cutaways?

If you plan on making any home movies of your holiday travels don’t forget that a movie takes the viewer on a journey. Your video footage is just one element of that story – sound and music also play an important role. Films often have a beginning, middle and end – so don’t forget to shoot extra footage to assist you in the edit to establish your location and shoot plenty of cutaway shots to help you with scene transitions.

Sound out
Your camera probably has a built in microphone but if it also has a hot shoe attachment or a mic jack then definitely make use of them to attach an external mic. Sound makes up a large part of the film experience – it’s almost as important as the visuals, so do yourself and your audience a favour and record the best sound you can…. and don’t forget to record atmosphere tracks to assist you in the edit.

Take control
When shooting HD it’s best to shoot in manual as much as possible if the option is available, that way you will have more exact control over exposure, focus and shutter speed.  Remember the auto focus motor makes a noise that will be picked up by the camera’s mic so at least try for manual focus where possible.

Set up the shot
Take the time to set up the shot before hand. Plan your action. Let your subject know the boundaries of the frame. Know your camera’s settings – so you aren’t fumbling around trying to zoom and wobbling the camera in the process…

Opt for the fastest flash card you can afford– you’ll appreciate the faster transfer speeds and hopefully avoid processor lag.

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