How-Tos

How to Shoot Your Video: Video 101


The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

So you bought yourself a camera or maybe you borrowed one from a friend, cool! Um, but how do you use it to make videos that look good? Shooting video well is a skill that takes time to develop but with a few simple tips you’ll find yourself on the path to movie magic. Take a peek at the video below for an introduction to those tips.

Let’s review some general tips to help make your video shoot go smoothly and your footage look awesome.

Batteries and Memory, there’s nothing like seeing a great moment you want to capture, getting your camera all set up, and then not being able to capture it because you either ran out of battery or memory space. It can be really disheartening! Charge up before you shoot and make sure you have memory to spare for recording.

Lens Cloth, a clean lens is a happy lens, so don’t let smudges get in the way of your images. Wipe any grime and debris off the lens at the beginning of your shoot. Don’t worry about buying one just for your camera, if you have glasses you can use the same silky smooth microfiber on your camera.

Zooms, are great for getting a close view from far away or you can reveal a wider area by zooming out.

Pan, rotating the camera laterally (back and forth) while shooting is called a pan.

Tilt, rotating the camera vertically (up and down) while shooting is called a tilt.

Lighting , when you’re shooting outside during the day your primary light source is the sun. Your subjects will look better if they face your primary light source instead of having the source behind them or the subject will appear really dark (backlit). To fill in any harsh shadows you might have from the primary light source, you can use a white or reflective material to bounce your light and fill in those shadows.

Plan your shots, it’s a tried and true maxim that planning makes perfect. Think about the shots you’d like to include and then think about what’s the best way to capture them. With practice you’ll develop a better eye for planning out the shots you want in your video.

Hold on your subject, let your subjects give your videos life. It can be hard to tell when exactly you should press that record button, if you’re just starting out though, try holding the camera steady for five seconds before you move it again.

Movement in and out of frame, instead of following every little movement you’re trying to capture, hold the camera still. Allowing your subjects to move around within the frame and occasionally going out of it can be really helpful for giving a better sense of their motion.

Reduce camera movement, the steadier your shot the more you can focus on the imagery and prevent nausea, it’s a win-win scenario. Try using a tripod or an available surface to rest the camera on while you record. If you don’t have either available try this, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, breathe slowly and hold the camera with both hands.

Composition Pretend your screen has evenly spaced lines running throughout it, two horizontally and two vertically. The points where the lines intersect are where you want to have your subject. This is called the rule of thirds, for more details on it and composition in general check out this lesson.

Learning to shoot well takes time but you can start applying these tips now. Who knows, with practice you may blossom into a world famous cinematographer! You never know…

Ready for more? Click here for a lesson on editing basics or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.




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