Do you have the problem with your handycam that you just keep recording everything and you aren’t able to think of framing specific shots?
I call this the curse of the handycam.
It Always Looks Like Home Movies
The problem is that it is just too easy to walk around any event you are shooting with your video camera and just keep recording everything continuously. Yes, it is easy and you don’t have to think too much about anything. And hey, that may be OK for your kid’s birthday party, but if you are trying to shoot something that looks better than just home movies, you need to kick your brain into gear.
If you want to start shooting professional looking videos or short films, you need to take a giant step forward. You need to learn How to Stop Panning and Zooming and how to start seeing the individual shots that can tell your story. One of the huge frustrations for good editors is getting footage from people who have only ever used handycams and quite often there are just no editing shots. With easy to use handycams, I think there is this thought that ‘I better not stop recording or change the shot too much because I might miss something’. This is purely a lack of knowledge, of not knowing how to shoot properly. But don’t worry, you are normal, this is how most of us started, and it is easily fixed.
The Bad News
The bad news is, however, that if you don’t make any effort to improve then your footage will always be extremely difficult to edit into anything that looks good. There will never be any Close-ups, or Cutaways, or any other shots for editing and controlling how your story is told.
Is your footage continually moving, either walking around or panning and zooming? If so, it will always look like home movies.
The Good News
The good news is that this problem is fixable with exposure to the right knowledge. All you then have to do is to use it, start to practice it. You really can break the curse of the handycam and start shooting footage that you can be proud of, and can be edited together into great stories.
When you are getting ready to start doing a shoot think about finding a position where you can stand and get a good, well composed wide shot that establishes what is going on and where it is happening. Make it a static shot and let it roll for at least 10 seconds. Make sure you watch what is happening in the shot. Make sure it tells the viewer part of the story and is not just a boring wide shot. By watching the action in this shot, you can then make a decision when to cut and you will have an idea of what to go to in a closer shot. You will know what action you want to see in the closer shot so that it can be edited onto the wide shot.
If you want to make this exercise even more difficult, put the camera on a tripod so you can’t walk around during the shot. Then you really have to think about where to position your camera for the shot. Once you have done a shot move to a different position and frame a different size shot so that it can be edited to the previous shot.
When you start to become aware of what you are seeing in well made programs you will notice that the majority of the shots that professional cameramen or women take are shot from a tripod and are steady, well composed shots. Many different shots that are framed so that they can be edited together seamlessly.
For information on how to work out what shots to take to make great stories check out the blog on Why You Don't Know What Shots to Take.
If you would like to fast track your learning check out The Video Camera Course.
Remember Learn it, Shoot it, Love it.