Shoot it!

Video can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! As with all things, breaking it down will help you to see that anyone can do it and Web Comm would love to guide you along!

The Nitty Gritty

1. Test all of your equipment before going out. Check the mics, check the tape, check the batteries. If it’s checkable, check it. And bring extras of everything. Have you heard of Murphy’s Law? Well, he always shows up on a shoot.

2. Think in terms of wide shots (establishing shot), medium shots, and close ups. This will make your video more professional and visually interesting.


3. B-roll galore! You can never get enough b-roll. B-roll is supplemental or alternate footage intercut with the main shot in an interview. Footage such as people laughing and having fun at an event is called b-roll because you would lay that over the interview of someone talking about how fun the event was.

4. Hold your shots for at least 10 seconds. After a person stops talking, pause for editing purposes before you ask your next question or turn of the camera.

5. Pan, not whip pan! Pan slowly for control and quality.

6. Think about whether you would like to do your shots hand held or on a tripod. If you don’t feel comfortable with hand held, use a tripod. The last thing you want is a bunch of great interviews that are unusable because it’s too shaky.

7. Try to get physically close to your subjects rather than zoom in (especially if you do an interview with a Flip camera).

8. Think about angles. A low angle is going to make someone appear important and heroic, whereas high angles make people seem vulnerable or powerless.

9. Lighting is important even if you aren’t using lights. Use natural light sources when you can, it’s more flattering. Stay away from placing your subject in front of a window.

10. When editing, never use shots that are out of focus or have bad sound.

That Sounds About Right!

1. Stay out of the wind. Avoid it even if you have a wind sock.

2. Be conscious of your environment and any other distracting noises (clock tower chime, plane, semis beeping).

3. Make sure your audio levels aren’t too high or too low. Bring some headphones along to check this and also watch the levels on the screen panel of the camera. Aim to get your recording levels on a track averaging about -18dBFS Decibels relative to full scale, commonly abbreviated dBFS), measures decibel amplitude levels in digital systems It doesn’t really matter if this average floats down as low as, for example -21dBFS or up to -15dBFS. Avoid any peaks going higher than -6dBFS.

OU Specifics

1. For anyone where you can clearly see their face (interviews mainly) you must have a signed talent release. For public spaces/events or crowds, you do not. Download the form here.

2. The shorter, the better. Under 2 minutes is preferred. You can read more tips about how to keep your audience’s attention here.

3. Write your questions before interviews. Send them to your subject in advance. Since we’re not doing investigative journalism here, it’s ok for them to think about their answers.

4. Always be clear about the story you want to tell. We do not recommend doing a video just because you feel like you should. Just like with other new media efforts, just because you think you should have one doesn’t necessarily mean you need one.

Keep Learning Stuff

And to follow up with some awesome free online training for the basics, I recommend Vimeo Video School. Check out their video on Video 101. They have other videos about editing, sound, and many more!

Video 101: Shooting Basics from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.

Learn the basics of shooting videos

See the lesson here for more details-

So that wasn’t so scary, right? How do you feel? Are you ready to shoot it!?

2 thoughts on “Shoot it!

  1. Nice post with some good reminders. Most importantly, it was a quick read, so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed! Any advice on equipment (i.e. what to consider purchasing for our needs)?

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