How to shoot video yourself (and make sure it looks good)

Shoot video yourself

Occasionally I’ll have a client I’m working with on a video project that wants to add some footage of an upcoming event, but doesn’t have the budget for videography services. What should they do? The great news is that, although it’s best to hire a professional for the job, you can capture great looking, high quality video by following a few videography guidelines:

  1. Shoot in landscape mode. If you’re shooting video with a smart phone, that means holding your phone horizontally. Unless you’re shooting specifically for social media and have no intention of viewing your video on a standard monitor, always shoot your video in landscape mode. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received vertical video that a client wants included in a project. It can be confusing when it looks so good on your phone, and looks terrible when viewing on a monitor. This is because the video must either be presented zoomed in significantly, or with large black bars on either side. When combined with horizontal video, the contrast is jarring. Best practice is to always shoot landscape.
  2. Shoot video in 4K. If you’re camera or phone is capable of shooting in 4K, do so. Even if your video will be delivered in HD format, 4K delivers better image quality that can be easily cropped in HD if necessary. The only problem with 4K is that the resulting files are large, which means you will run out of storage space fast if you are on a smart phone.
  3. Wide. Medium. Close Up. The 3 basic shots for videography. The basic building blocks of a scene. The wide shot sets the scene, the medium focuses in on a part of that scene, and the close up goes in for detail. Think of it like this: you’re watching a movie, and a scene begins inside a restaurant. The first shot you see is a wide shot establishing where you are. Then you go in a little closer on a couple sitting at a table talking. As each person speaks, they are singled out with a close up shot. Shooting in sequence like this will help the viewer understand what is happening in the scene you’re covering.

In an upcoming video, I show specific examples of these guidelines in action. I’ll also show you why you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on gear to capture video of stunning quality.

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