Tips for Shooting Digital Video - dummies

By Doug Sahlin

You’re shooting video with a digital camera, which would make you think you can walk with the camera and do all the things you can do while taking pictures with your camera. Unfortunately, this is not true.

You have to put a little bit of thought into your video, especially if you plan on editing lots of clips to make a full-blown video in an application such as Adobe Premiere Elements. Here are some things to consider when shooting video clips:

  • Mount your camera on a tripod. It’s almost impossible to get steady video of any scene when you hand-hold the camera.

  • Don’t walk with the camera. If you walk and record video at the same time, the camera will bob up and down with every step you take. The end result is similar to being on a boat in a rolling sea. The effect on anyone watching a video captured while you were walking with the camera will be the same.

    Professional videographers use a device called a camera stabilizer, or they mount the camera on a boom.

  • Pan at a moderate speed. If your tripod has a pan head, you can pan the camera from side to side to capture the grand view in front of your camera as video.

    If you pan too quickly, your viewers won’t be able to see the beauty of the scene. If you pan too slowly, you’ll put your audience to sleep. Experiment until you find a panning speed that you can comfortably achieve and that looks good.

  • Pan at a constant speed. If you start panning quickly and then slow down, the resulting video doesn’t have smooth motion and looks very amateurish. Yes, you may be an amateur, but your video doesn’t need to advertise that fact.

  • Zoom at a moderate speed. If you zoom too quickly, your viewers may feel symptoms similar to motion sickness. If you zoom too slowly, they’ll yawn and quickly lose interest.

  • Zoom at a steady speed. When you zoom at a steady speed, your video looks more professional.

  • Leave three seconds before and after a clip. This gives you room to create transitions when you edit the video in an application like Premiere Elements. The easiest way to do this is to push the record button and count 1001, 1002, 1003, and then start panning or zooming.