How To Be A Better Videographer
Having the gear, but not getting the results? Spent hundreds on that new camera or drone and then found yourself unhappy with your photos and videos? In this case, the good and the bad news are identical: It’s probably you, not your camera (sorry).
Cameras are only tools and just like having a good hammer won’t make you a carpenter and having a sharp scalpel won’t make you a surgeon, well, having a good camera won’t magically turn you into a good photographer (sorry again). Unlike hammers and scalpels cameras do have some “auto” features (which definitely help) but those will help you in avoiding some errors (like strong over- or underexposure) but won’t help much in creating something actually good.
Producing better photos or videos is up to your own skills – and while you (probably) won’t become a Hollywood-grade master with our little blog, we’ll try to show you some little tricks which will make a huge difference already.
Here are some of the most important ingredients you’ll need to become better at taking photos and videos:
Unfortunately there is no magic button, no fantastic pill and no revolutionary secret that will make you better in a heartbeat (yes, hundreds of articles on the web claim otherwise). There are plenty of quick & easy tricks you can do which can make a big difference, but first you’ll have to understand those tricks, then put in a bit of practice and then apply them regularly – this all takes time.
Also, spending more time on thinking and deciding what you actually want to shoot, from which angle and in which order will give you a much better yield of usable video material. If you’re thinking “I’m just going to get a quick shot of this here…” you’ll end up with exactly that: a quick shot of… something. Not that this is bad, but it probably could be better.
Know your gear and the basics
Your video equipment is only as good as you are. Take the time to read through the manual and understand how that piece of gear actually works. And even more important: Get at least a little grip on the basics of videography and photography, especially exposure. Not to say you won’t take any good videos until you know how aperture and shutter speed relate to white balance (they don’t) but understanding the basics can make a huge difference in the long run.
If your video is completely secondary to your main activity, you can probably do without this: If you’re there for your bike trip and film along just because you can but don’t care for the result, that’s fine.
But if you want to tell a story and create a video that people will actually enjoy watching, planning is an absolute must. You don’t have to spend hours doing sketches and studying maps, but take a few minutes to think about these: What’s your video about and which are the vital scenes? What is located where, when do things happen? Which scenes are particularly exciting? Are there any scenes you can easily shoot multiple times, e.g. to try out different perspectives? Would having an assistant open up new shooting possibilities and can a friend help? If your recording time is limited (e.g. because your drone’s batteries only last that long), which shots are most important (do these first) and which are still unclear or will require some trial and error on location (do these last)?
It’s often impossible to answer all of these beforehand but having at least a rough idea of what you’re planning to shoot when and where will make you a LOT more effective during your time on location.
Try new things! This includes the subject matter you’re shooting but it also refers to photographic techniques and particularly the choice of perspective. Shooting from eye level can be boring because that’s how we see the world all the time. Get down on your knees or stomach and shoot from a low angle or climb onto something to get a higher angle or even look straight down. Experiment with slow motion. In your final video, try mixing different subjects: If you’re shooting a sports video, mix in some landscape shots from the scene to give your video’s audience a better idea of the location.
This is something many people shun but which has a huge impact on the quality of your final video. Basically all videos you’ll see on the web are edited in some way and more often than not, more time went into post processing than into planning and recording taken together.
Now we know you’re not Hollywood so you don’t have to overdo it, but the one main thing you’ll really want to do in post is cutting your video: Clip out all the boring parts, keep only the essential moments and merge them into one nice and short clip that people will enjoy watching.