How to Shoot High-Quality Video
Video has evolved tremendously since the days of celluloid film and videotape. We all have devices in our pockets now that can shoot video with the tap of a button. And since web video is the most popular thing on the internet since cats, gifs, and cat gifs, almost everyone will likely be shooting video for the foreseeable future. But not everyone will be doing it professionally. Read on to learn some basic techniques for shooting great-looking video that will keep you ahead of the pack.
Know Your Settings
Read your camera’s user manual and get familiar with all the functions before you begin shooting. You don’t was to lose that sunset light or cut into your model’s happy hour because you had to look up how to set your white balance. Know how to access the menu functions quickly and confidently so you can shoot more efficiently.
Get It Together
Before you head out in the field, make sure you have everything you need for a successful shoot. Don’t forget about those small but essential accessories, like extra batteries and media cards; any lighting or audio accessories, like a wind screen for your microphone; and last but not least, a lens-cleaning kit to keep that glass dust free. Charge all your batteries, format all your media cards, and get ready to shoot!
Composition is how you arrange or position your subject(s) in the camera’s frame. Bad composition can make an attractive image look boring, but a well composed frame can make an ordinary scene look unique. There are many laws when it comes to composition. It’s important to understand the basic formulas, but try not overthink it too much. Not every “rule” will work in every environment, so experiment with these when the time is right.
Light It or Lose It
Lighting is the most important element when it comes to video and photography. Bad light can ruin a perfect shot. When working with natural light outdoors, it’s best to shoot around “golden hour,” just after sunrise and before sunset. Shooting during these times will give your scenes and subjects a softer, balanced light.
Camera movements give filmmakers the ability to add drama, tension, and other emotions to the scene. They can also direct the viewer’s attention toward a subject or action within the frame. Keep in mind that camera movements should always be intentional.
Audio Is Essential
Audio is another extremely important element when capturing great video. Poorly recorded sound is not only distracting, but can also ruin an epic shot. Most video cameras come with low-quality on-camera mics, which might be enough for only recording ambient sound.
If you plan on recording interviews or voiceovers, though, you’ll want to invest in a small shotgun mic to mount on your camera. This will enhance your audio tremendously. If you have some deeper pockets and want to take your voice recordings to the next level, look into a lavalier system. This will give you the best quality for recording voices out in the field.
Review Your footage
Finally, always review and critique your footage after each shoot. Check everything from your lighting and exposure to your camera movements and sound. If you want to go even further, cut together a short sequence of your clips in an editing program like Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie, or Final Cut. The more you work with your footage in an editing program, the better a cinematographer you’ll be.
Plan your video content.
Believe it or not, the content of your video matters a lot more than its quality.
That’s not to say quality isn’t important—it sure is! But if you had to give one aspect more attention, time and energy, it would be planning your content properly.
To plan your content, consider the following three video tips:
- Outline your goal
What are you looking to achieve with your video? Are you trying to make people laugh? Are you trying to get them to visit your website? Are you promoting your product? Teaching them something new? Define your goal before moving on.
- Identify your target audience
You can’t possibly target everyone in the world, because then who are you really talking to? Not having a clear vision of your ideal viewer groups will result in a diluted message within your video content. Your audience will determine the way you write your script, the way you shoot your video and the way you edit it. It will also determine where you distribute your videos depending on where your main audience hangs out online. Think of who you want to be seeing this, and then think of where on the internet they usually “hang out” so you can know to distribute it later.
- Use the power of emotions
Emotions are what drive viewers to follow through with your call to action, whether that’s subscribing to your channel, sharing your video or buying your product. It’s been proven over and over again that emotions triggered by content are what drive the motivations to carry through with CTAs.
Choose A Camera-Friendly Location
You can shoot a video in your clinic as long as you have a suitable space to do so. To prepare for a video shoot, many of our clients select less clinical surroundings to create a feeling of less formality and ease. Sadly, many clinic facilities are awash in seas of grey and beige, which is not ideal. Unless your clinic facilities offer an aesthetically pleasing look and feel, we suggest you choose a hotel meeting room or conference facility. Ideally, to prepare for a video shoot you’ll want to consider clean, eye-friendly backgrounds and wall colours with as little clutter as possible. Movement in the background works fine as long as it’s not distracting.
Choose A Long And Deep Room Size
We like to have some depth in the room so that we can choose where to place the cameras and the subject (you) to get a depth of field. Depth of field gives us a great contrast between the subject (you) and the background at a distance, blurring the background so that you stand out better. You can especially see that effect in this example below of Samer Hamada. Notice the background behind him is soft and pleasant. There’s even a little movement behind the window to add a little bit of energy to the scene. By the way, this effect is difficult (if not impossible) to achieve using phone cameras. However, it’s possible to add this blur effect in post-production.
Choose your wardrobe deliberately to prepare for a video shoot
When it comes to dress, women have much more flexibility than men, but that can also pose challenges.
We advise women to wear a suit or dress and shirt that coordinates with their brand colours. We advise men to not wear scrubs or white lab coats because it can put some patients off – especially those with a phobia of doctors, hospitals or surgery. Instead, we advise men to wear a jacket and tie that coordinates with their brand colours.
Brand colours are important because your video will appear in many places associated with your brand, including your website, your YouTube channel and other social media. You want your appearance to suit.
Both genders should avoid stripes or highly-detailed patterned shirts that might cause camera distortion. Solid colours tend to work best.
Women should use a matte foundation to reduce shine on the face. Depending on hair length, both men and women benefit from putting some hairspray on their fingers and patting their hair down to prevent flyaway hair.
If the shoot plan calls for above the waist shots only (most do) then wearing jeans is probably preferable for comfort. Bring a pair of suit trousers and smart shoes if you think you’ll need them.
Shallow Depth of Field
There’s very few things as noticeably cinematic as a shallow depth of field. If you’re not already familiar with the term, depth of field refers to the portion of the frame that is in focus. A camera like an iPhone has a very wide depth of field, meaning it’s very hard to get a background out of focus. A DSLR style camera can get an out-of-focus background very easily.
If you’re determined to get the most cinematic footage possible on a budget, you should definitely look into using a DSLR or mirrorless photographic-style camera instead of a camcorder.
High Dynamic Range
Dynamic range refers to your camera’s ability to simultaneously record both bright and dark areas simultaneously. To illustrate the point, think about terrible local news footage. In most of their footage you’ll likely see a reporter standing under direct sunlight with a sky that is completely white. This is incredibly distracting and it will look terrible to an audience in a theater. Now contrast that with the footage from The Revenant trailer where you can see details in the clouds and in the ground at the same time.
Back in the day (5 years ago), cameras with high dynamic ranges were very expensive. But with recent advancements in technology, notably from Blackmagic Design, you can now get beautifully balanced images for an affordable price.