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Introduction | video | sound | lighting

Getting good shots doesn't always come easy. You need to frame the shot, make sure the focus is correct, make sure the exposure is correct and make sure the shot is steady. Here are some general ideas and tips for your next shoot.

Framing the Shot


A common mistake for many beginners is to place the subjects head directly in the middle of the picture. This is very displeasing to the eye because you have just left half the picture with empty space. Instead think of the picture having a 5 x 7 grid. Then watch your favorite television shows and see how the people fit in on the grid. TV shows aren't necessarily the ultimate "framers," but it is a good place to start. Take notes and practice, practice, practice!


Every DV video camera is equipped with auto focus. However, auto focus is not "auto-perfect." Many times auto focus will constantly readjust itself depending on what is going on in the shot. It could be a lighting change, or a moving object that could change the focus. To assure your focus is steady, it is best to turn off the auto focus whenever possible. After turning off auto-focus you need to manually focus. Use a technique called "Rack Focusing." To Rack Focus, zoom in on the object as close as possible, turn off auto focus, then manually set the focus. When the camera is zoomed in, the depth of field is reduced, allowing you to have a better idea of what is in focus. As you zoom out, you will find that your object stays in focus as long as neither the object you are shooting nor the camera move.

If you know that the distance between the camera and the objects you are shooting will be moving, it is best to zoom out as far as the shot will allow. This ensures that you will have the largest depth of field possible, allowing your objects to appear less blurry.

How to Make the Shot Steadier

Get a tripod. Tripods are generally the first place to start making your shot steady. Putting your camera on a tripod allows you to not think about the camera and start thinking about the shot. But tripods are not just great way to get stationary shots, they are also good for movement. Attach a tripod to the camera for moving handheld shots. The extra weight will help steady the shot because more force will be required to change the direction of the momentum of the camera allowing your camera to be steadier.

Almost all DV video cameras have a flip out LCD screen. While using the flip out LCD screen greatly reduces the life of your battery, it can greatly increase the steadiness of your shot. With the screen flipped out, you are afforded the ability to hold the camera closer to your mid section. At this position you have much more strength than holding the camera up at eye level.

Another trick to making a shot steady is to lean on some object, like a wall, a car, or a tree. The added support will show in your steadier shot.

Try to avoid walking during a shot. If it is necessary for the camera to move during a shot, try to find a way to roll the camera or yourself. Try sitting in a wheel chair and getting a friend to push. The shot will become smoother and lack the bouncing motion you get when walking with the camera.

Go Easy on the Zooms

Zooming in and out can make an audience feel dizzy. As a general rule, zoom in only one direction per shot. Your audience will thank you for it.

Buy Good Equipment

Not all DV video cameras were built equally, and because of this, the quality can change dramatically from camera to camera. Here are some technical factors that can change the quality of the image.

Size of the CCD matters
The Charged Coupled Device(CCD) is the piece of electronics inside a camera that translates the wave of light into electronic signals. As a general rule, a larger CCD, will be able to have greater color depth, and will have a better signal to noise ratio.(making the picture will apear less fuzzy in low light situations)

Active Pixel Elements on the CCD
The higher number of Active Pixel Elements on the CCD, the greater level of resolution the camera will be able to deliver.

Number of CCD's
Many higher end DV video cameras will have 3 CCD's. Each CCD is assigned to record a specific color: red, green or blue. Doing so, gives greater color separation to deliver a sharper, more vibrant picture.

Not all video cameras are built the same. Start with the right equipment because the video can only get shittier.

next >> Add the second dimension with sound.

Introduction | video | sound | lighting




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