Why Hire a Professional Videographer?
With the advancement of consumer video camera quality, novices can produce reasonable, if not excellent, video. The professional, however, offers other advantages. The professional will devote his/her attention to the production and not be personally distracted by the event by wanting to join in. The professional will have experience in shooting similar or other productions. As a result, the pro will be prepared to shoot the event or production knowing beforehand what shots and subject matter might or will be necessary to complete a professional production. The pro should have all the necessary equipment: lighting, mikes and/or audio equipment, etc. The pro will usually be able to edit the raw footage, along with possible graphics, music, voice overs, narration, etc., to provide a polished final production. The pros will usually have resources available to them: leads to professional narrators, script writers, animation artists, royalty free music, and duplication services, to name just a few.
Should you wish to do your own production the following tips are given:
1. HOLD THAT CAMERA STEADY.
The best way to do this is to use a tripod. Shaky video can be very annoying. Professional news camera people have an advantage over the average novice when shouldering their cameras. They have years of experience; the camera is balanced for shoulder resting; and the weight of the camera helps to keep it stable. Other devices for the smaller cameras that are available are: shoulder attachments; or poles made to attach to the tripod mounting screw. Small light hand held video cameras are very susceptible to shaky video. If all else fails, place the camera on a table, automobile, fence, etc., while shooting. Some cameras have image stabilization. This helps, but not always.
2. GET IN CLOSE.
Get as physically close to your subject as possible. Using a low or no zoom setting will help to reduce visible camera shake; will get you in to your subject so that only pertinent subject matter is composed and taped. Always consider that each frame of video, 30 frames per second, when frozen should ideally give you a good composed still photo. Eliminate unnecessary objects, background, etc., except as noted below. Get in to your subject.
3. USE LOTS OF LIGHT.
Despite camera manufacturers statements about low light shooting, the best video is shot with lots of light on the subject. Either direct, reflected or diffused. Using an adequate amount of light will render colors and detail better and will eliminate the "Grain" that results in the camera's "gain" being utilized to compensate for low light. Contractor's quartz halogen lights with stands can be used very effectively to illuminate small areas. CAUTION: They get very hot and are on stands that could be tipped over.
4. USE PROPER WHITE BALANCE.
Manufacturers' manuals will usually inform the user on how to properly white balance the camera. This is nothing more than "telling" the camera to electronically compensate or color correct for the source of predominate light. Sun light, incandescent bulbs, florescent bulbs, etc. Manually white balancing, if the camera allows it, will usually give better color rendition.
5. CREATE AN OUTLINE OF YOUR PRODUCTION.
Before you begin to shoot any subject, try to outline what shots you want, when and where they should be in relationship to each other. Create a story, beginning, middle and end. Only videotape subjects, events, happenings, etc., for as long as necessary to tell the story. Shooting endless minutes of people milling around at an event can be boring. Shooting only 5-10 seconds of this activity can add interest and diversity in your production. Get different angles on your subjects. From your shoulder, from the ground shooting up, from over your head shooting down, from waist high etc. This also will add interest.
6. FRAME YOUR SUBJECT.
Try to frame your distant subjects in doorways, beyond tree branches, through windows, or any foreground object that can add dimension and interest without taking away from the composition and the subject.
7. MAINTAIN FOCUS ON YOUR SUBJECT.
Out of focus subjects, unless to give a special effect, can be distracting. Try to maintain your focus manually. Some cameras' auto focusing sensing devices are very sensitive resulting in the image blurring on a regular basis as a result of "reading" on a foreground object that momentarily comes into view or if the subject sways or moves about. Zoom in to your subject, assuming the subject will be relatively stationary, switch to manual focus, then zoom out to the proper position. This usually gives latitude and maintains a good stable and focused image, particularly if the subject has adequate light.
8. WATCH TV.
A great place to learn camera technique, composition, story line, etc. The TV "magazine" programs, documentaries, news coverages, etc., are great for learning how the pros shoot video. Watch programs occasionally from this point of view. A lot can be learned.
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