Say YES to a tripod
The majority of home videos end up looking shaky, which is a drag to watch. Even with a small investment of $30 on a tripod, your footage look will look professional and steady. Also, you’ll have the ability to execute pans and zooms without trouble.
No tripod? Lean against a wall to minimize shakiness. OK, no wall you say? Putt your butt on the ground, bend your knees, and drop your elbows on them.
If your shooting an event where space is limited or you’re on the constant go I recommend a monopod. These are a real lifesaver. Not only can you get rock steady shots, you occupy less space and can relocate in a matter of seconds.
Give me light
It doesn’t matter how good your camera is. If you have crappy lighting, it will reflect (no pun intended) in your video. A quick solution to overcome lighting issues is to shoot outdoors preferably in the morning or late afternoon hours. Why? At these times of the day the light is less harsh and produces a more pleasant softer look on the video – no shadows over the eyes, squinting, or washed out skin tones.
If you must shoot indoors take notice of which way the light is directed in the room. Avoid shooting your foreground subjects close to bright windows behind them. You don’t want your camera to expose for the background leaving your foreground subject dark. Certainly let as much light into the room as possible and try to have the light coming from behind you towards your subject. If the light levels are low, its good practice to disable autofocus or you will encounter problems as the camera attempts to focus properly.
Many people don’t notice good sound but they sure notice bad sound. Getting good sound does take some work but its do-able. The microphones built into most cameras are pretty basic and are not considered high-end. When your dealing with an uncontrollable environment it’s always best to get as close as possible to the source as possible to ensure the cleanest recording. You must monitor your audio with headphones to ensure the best results.
Proper composition is everything when setting up a good shot. Professional videographers obey the “rule of thirds” and you should do the same. Imagine a tic-tac-toed board over your viewfinder. The lines interact in four spots. Your goal should be to frame the action using one or more of those spots.
Of course, art is subjective and you can break this rule if your feeling creative. But exercise restraint: you don’t want to alienate your audience.