Winnipeg Harvest - A Video Montage


Over the last three days I have been shooting video of volunteers at Winnipeg Harvest for a video montage assignment in my media production class. I've never shot video before, but let me tell you, it's way harder than it looks.

My biggest struggles were always making sure the camera was in focus, and being quick enough to catch on film interactions with people that would really tell the story of what volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest is all about.

Six hours of shooting and many, many mistakes later, here are my top 5 tips for first-timers shooting video.

1. Use a Tripod
Sometimes a tripod can feel limiting as you may not be able to get the variety of angles that you want. However, while professional videographers may be able to hold the camera steady, those with little experience shooting video will have a difficult time doing so. I attempted to go without a tripod for all of ten minutes and realized none of the footage I had captured was usable because it was still shaky, no matter how hard I was trying to hold it still. Using a tripod is simply the best way to ensure you footage isn't shaky, because shaky footage is only usable if you are shooting a specific type of documentary. 

2. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
Nothing spoils a video shoot as much as poor lighting. Fixing poor lighting in post-production is possible, but make it easy on yourself and do it right from the beginning. Open the Iris of the camera up as much as possible without blowing out the shot, and whatever you do, don't shoot toward a source of light. Always make sure that the source of light is not hitting the back of your subject, and that their face or front is illuminated by light.

3. Avoid Zoom In and Out Shots
You rarely see a zoom in or out move on TV or in movies. This is because it doesn't look good. So forget the super 1000X zoom in and zoom out feature on your camera. Take a wide shot, then stop the camera. Zoom in and then record again and get your close up shot. Then edit them together. 

4. Establish Where You Are
Take a variety of shots to ensure you have enough to work in the editing stage to establish where the activities are taking place. Take a wide, medium, and close up shot of every single shot. Ask your subject(s) to repeat what they are doing a number of times to ensure you get a usable shot. If you only have a close up shot of something, and no wide or medium shot to establish where the subject is, you might be in trouble.

5. Keep Them Short and Simple
Try not to shoot long, drawn out video clips of more than two minutes. It's a chore to go through them in post-production. Shorter video clips allow you to edit more efficiently. Another tip is to name each video clip something that tells you what the video clip was about to help you edit even faster. A name like "C/U Chris smile" tells you exactly what the clip is and will save you time in the long run.


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