Like so many things these days the advances in technology have meant that top quality video even high definition is accessible to everyone, not just professional television crews, as was the case just a decade ago. The latest range of DV and HDV cameras are just mind-blowingly good. But have a good camera doesn’t turn you into Spielberg over night. You need to know how to use it and a few basic rules will help you shoot better carp fishing footage and better still be able to edit it into DVD’s or web clips for Youtube etc….
There is nothing worse than watching wobbly, out of focus, poorly shot videos. so below are the first basic rules on how to get better result with your video camera.
Use a Tripod. Investing in a tripod will immediately make your footage smoother and more professional for a minimal outlay. You won’t regret it. You might feel that they are a pain, but it makes the difference between usable and unusable footage. It boils down to the old adage you put junk in you get junk out, so the better your image quality the better the finished film. If there is no way to film with a tripod, always balance the camera on something stable – a wall, a fence, your car etc. Always keep in mind that it is virtually impossible to hand hold a handy cam video camera steadily.
Avoid the “hose pipe” method of filming. This “technique” refers to pointing the camera and filming continuously, swaying around and not settling on anything – it is one of the commonest traps that many amateurs fall into when they first start filming. It looks very unprofessional and makes editing a nightmare.
You should always shoot scenes separately, in a logical manner. Frame your shot and compose you picture just like you would a photo. If you want several views in a sequence, make a cut between each shot, stopping the camera and reframing for each one. Stay on a scene for around 8 seconds. This allows you edit a scene down if necessary. Remember, we can’t add it back if it’s not there to begin with.
Vary your shots, close ups, medium range shots and wide shots. Normal; Close Up; Wide
Zooming & Panning
Don’t zoom or over pan while filming. If you need close up shots, stop the camera, zoom in first, and then start shooting again. Otherwise you’ll end up giving your audience motion sickness. Move closer to your subject and avoid zooming entirely. It’ll improve picture quality. Pans should be smooth and slow, impossible to do without a tripod. Always stay on the scene before you start to pan and afterwards. Another reason for not using the above is that too much movement doesn’t transfer very well to films destined for the Internet. These clips will need to be streamed to be Internet ready, so they can be read by browsers over the Net. Too much movement makes for jerky pictures.
Find the Action First
Take the time to frame your subject properly before you start filming. Let the subject fill the scene in order to eliminate distractions. Not only will you save tape, you’ll have a better video to show for it in the end. Think that your film needs a logical sequence, a beginning a middle and an end. For example: if you are filming a guy playing a fish, you’ll need to see him land it etc. You don’t need the whole fight, but there needs to be continuity. As with all photography, both still and video, a little thought gives for better results.
Let there be Light
Make sure there’s enough light before shooting. Outdoors in daylight is normally fine, but don’t shoot into direct sunlight. If shooting indoors, make sure that the lights are turned on, if there’s not enough illumination from the windows. Some Digital Video camera’s have lights built into them. If your camera allows you to colour balance, do this manually indoors and with the mixed lighting it will give you a better balance.
Shoot with an Edit in Mind
A word about editing. I’m always amazed when people tell me they never edit their videos. for me this is the fun part, building a film adding music, titles effects, all this is possible on a PC at home. There are a number of free editing softwares available, like Windows Moviemaker, or better still I recommend you buy Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 a very good package for about £60. When you shoot think how you might edit the sequences together, shoot link shots, cutaways etc.
Finally I’ll touch briefly on audio, as most people ignore it altogether, but audio is at least 50% of your film. Onboard camera mic’s are pretty useless, so if dialogue is important a cheap clip on mic can help get better sound, something like an Audio Technica ATR35s costs about £30 and plugs into most small DV cameras. Alternatively a cheap gun mic on a painters pole, boom style, held near your subject will also give you better audio.