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How to make good home videos

Updated on June 27, 2009
Home Movie Digital Camera
Home Movie Digital Camera

Home Movies you can be proud of!

In recent years, the cost of digital video cameras has fallen very dramatically, and as such almost every household has access to one, and making home videos is now very easy.

Online internet video sharing websites such as YouTube also means people can now share their creations with friends and family all over the world, but having access to a camcorder and a PC with non-linear editing software doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be creating very good videos, and I would like to give those of you interested in making better home videos some tips and advice in this article, however before I do that, there is a very important thing that you the home video make should always remember.
A digital video camera can not replace being at an event!

This is one of the most important attributes that seperates the professionals from amateurs when it come to making videos. You don't have to capture every single thing that happens at an event, just the most relevant and interesting that would tell the story and make the viewer wish they were there.

Home movie making tips

So here are my tips that should help you to make better videos with your new HD digital video camcorder.

1. Learn how to take good photographs. Taking a photography class where you learn the basics of how to frame shots, learn the rules of perspective, how light affects the images you produce and getting ideas on what makes some photos more dramatic than others will put you in a better possition of becoming a good video maker.
If you don't have the time to go to a class, then the book below is your best alternative.

Lights, Camera, Action

2. Know your video camera. If you are to get the best out of your digital video camera no matter how simple or sophisticated it might be, you need to know it like the back of your hand, so read the manual inside out, you'll be surprised at the number of little tricks you might be able to pull with your equipment.
Some of the essential things you need about your camcorder include how to manually control exposure, enabling manual focus control, using the ND filter (if you have one), white balancing, audio level control, how to disable the digital zoom (never use this function on your DV video camera), etc.

3. Have a shooting plan. Don't just start recording without having an idea of what images you want to capture. This is where a lot of home video movie makers go wrong, they just switch the camera on, and start recording everything they see, up, down, right and left.
If you are at a wedding, then what is it you want to show the viewer that was not present.

The church building, the nice stained glass windows, the bride arriving at the church, the groom waiting nervously at the front of the church. You don't have to have your shot lists written down (though it helps), but you must know what you do and don't require (you can't get closeup shots of every single guest that was at the church wedding service).

4. Record your shots as if you are using a still photograph camera. Treat you video camera as if you as if you were taking photographs. See the action you would like to capture, frame the shot, then press record for about 8 seconds, stop, frame the next shot record and stop. The only time you should record continuosly, is when you are capturing the major action (in the case of the wedding things like the vows, the kiss, blessing, maybe singing of a hymn).

5. Don't distract your viewer from the action! Common home video mistakes are zooming while recording (in the case of the wedding where you want to show an interesting feature of the church building, first show a wide shot of the whole building, stop the recoding, then zoom in to the feature, then record that). Don't wave your camera about, kee you camera as steady as possible, if following action, pan the camera slowly. Make sure the camera is in focus. There is nothing that screams amateur more than a picture of the wedding couple going in and out of focus. This is where knowing how to use the manual focus comes in handy.

Steady Video Camera

6. Use a tripod or monopod. You should use some kind of stabiliser for your video camera where possible. This could be a lightweight aluminium tripod, or if you really need to travel light, a monopod. This will help make sure your shots are steady, level and look more professional to the viewer, and as said above help to keep the focus on the action and not on the home video maker.

7. Record good sound. Always make sure your camera microphone can capture the sound of the event you are capturing. professionals normally use an external mic, but you don't have that luxury, so one of the ways you can compensate for that is to get close to the action. The closer you are to the subject, the more likely you are to capture good sound, so when it is time for those vows, you will need to move to the front (a good home videographer can not afford to be shy), you will also get better shots because you won't need to zoom in, and the viewer will feel more involved.

8. Edit your story. Almost every household has access to a computer these days, so get some basic video non linear editing software, learn how to use it, and edit that video footage together to tell your story the way it perfectly captures the day's events.

9. Use music to polish up your video. This is a simple way of giving your finished product some extra sheen.

10. Watch a lot of documentaries. If you are really serious about producing good home videos, the you need to watch a lot of short documentaries to give you inspiration, plus ideas of how the professionals do it. I would recomment go to the Current TV website for this.

11. Finally, make as many home videos as possible, the more you do it, the better you will get at it.

My Home Video

Conclusion

I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to make better home videos, so go out there and give it a go, don't worry about mistakes you make, with time you too will be making videos that your friends and family will be proud to sit in front of that new HD television to watch.

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