While more families own high-end camcorders than ever before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that more great home movies are actually being shot. On the contrary, even though cameras have become easier to use and feature much higher resolutions than their predecessors, people still can’t seem to figure them out.
With our directorially-challenged friends in mind, we present the following list of essential tips for getting the most out of your camcorder.
Tips for Making Better Movies with your Camcorder:
1. Take off the lens cap. Just kidding! Our first tip is actually to use the Manual Focus option if it is offered on your camera. Manual focus will allow you to get sharper images throughout your video without experiencing the blurriness that occurs when an auto-focus takes time to readjust itself.
2. Always keep the sun behind you. When shooting outdoor video, always be sure that the sun is behind your back. This will greatly reduce glare and “white-out” caused by the brightness of the natural light source.
3. Craft a plan. Unless you’re capturing the most spur of the moment events, why not plan what you are going to shoot? This will help you keep a steadier hand as you move from shot to shot, and you won’t forget to include anyone or anything that you intended to capture on film.
4. Don’t fall in love with the ZOOM. Yes, we know that zoom is one of the most fun features on your camcorder, but that doesn’t give you right to create an amateur 3D movie every time you shoot something. Choose a zoom length ONCE in your shot and stick with it. You don’t want to be handing out Dramamine during your premiere.
5. Keep movement to a minimum. Even the steadiest-of-hands will cause a disruption of the image when they begin to move the camera around. We realize that some movements are unavoidable, but try and stick to the tri-pod as much as possible.
6. Always use a tripod. See note above. A tripod is truly a sound, “steady” investment for the amateur filmmaker.
7. Stop “rooting” around. There are those among us who think that they are next Fellini (but trapped shooting families at Chuck E Cheese). Consequently, they will stumble all over the place in search of the perfect angle from which to shoot. Stick with the basics – shoot from the areas directly ahead of (or to the side of) your subject and you can’t go wrong.
8. Be natural. Try and stay inconspicuous when shooting video of friends and family. You want your subjects to act naturally, and waving your arms around like a madman and telling everyone to “smile and say something” is not going to create everlasting memories.
9. Keep a spare battery handy. Nothing kills a shoot quicker than a camera with a dead battery. Charge up a spare and keep it in your camera bag in case of emergencies.
10. Record in widescreen. If your camera offers widescreen shooting, and you have a high-end TV at home, take advantage of both. Shooting in widescreen allows you to capture your subject at its most majestic!
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