These days you don’t need to spend a vast amount of money on a camera to ensure good quality, in fact you can shoot great looking HD video on many mobile phones, however you will need to observe some page one rules!
1. Your subject must know what they are going to say and be confident in their delivery. If they can’t remember their lines you can use many free autocue programmes on a laptop. If you want them to read directly to camera you have to put the laptop as near to the lens as you can (underneath or at the side) and have the camera a good distance away with the lens zoomed in. This will make the eye line much more believable. It isn’t quite as good as a professional one but if you get the right distance it will look pretty good!
2. Generally people are not good in holding their eye line straight to camera so it is better to get them to talk to someone slightly off camera. This person shouldn’t be too far away from camera as the subject will then be in profile and if you can’t see both eyes it doesn’t feel as personal. If someone is asking questions they should be open questions i.e. who, what, where, how, why etc. there is nothing worse than leading your subject and them answering yes or know. Also get them to include the question in their answer as you rarely want the person asking the questions in the video for promoting your Website and Marketing your Product.
3. The sound is very important so a basic rule is that you need to get a separate microphone as near to the place the noise is coming from as possible. In most cases this is the mouth so a personal mike near the sternum (best mix of resonant and direct sound, turn the mike upside down as this flatters the female voice and reduces the pop with males) or a gun mike pointing at the mouth just out of shot is required. Professionals usually go with both gun mike on track one and a personal on track 2 as this means if there is a fault you have it on at least one track and you can mix between the two to get acoustic feel you need. If you only have a camera mike you have to have it very close to the person but it will always be inferior to using a separate microphone.
4. If you don’t want your audience to feel sick you need to put the camera on a tripod, when the camera is still they ignore it and concentrate on the message, not the camera work. Make sure the tripod is level, a professional one has a spirit level on it and a quick levelling device. If you want to make it a bit funky then tilt the camera to give a more creative feel but be careful, ensure it suits your content.
5. Pome priorities for the camera:
Power, mains if you have it available and this saves your batteries for when you are outside or hand held or moving around. Have 3 batteries, one on camera, one ready and one on charge.
Media, without tapes or Ram or hard drives to record to you are wasting your time!.
Sound, without good mikes and a playback test before you start you could be recording nice pictures but with no sound!
Focus, if the pictures are not sharp you may need to re-shoot everything. Don’t go off the little flip out screen, use a large external monitor.
Lighting, if you don’t have professional lighting ensure the light source (including the sun) is behind camera, move your subject into better light, avoid down-lighters as they put shadows under the eyes. If there is direct sunlight try and soften it with blinds. You don’t want low contrast or massive contrast.
Grip, get a good tripod, solid shots mean a solid production.
White balance, make sure your colour is right, you don’t want your presenter all blue or over red in the face!
If you can shoot on a camera that doesn’t use tape this is much better as it is quicker to edit the footage and digitising from tape can be fraught with problems. Often now the camera will shoot digital files to a hard drive or record to an SD or Compact flash card. When connected to your computer you can drag and drop the files onto your computer for editing.
Many stills cameras now shoot HD video and give good results as they have good lenses and often perform better in low light if they have a large chip.
When you come to editing you can use a variety of programmes, free ones are iMovie on a Mac or windows movie maker on a PC. I will go into more detail on editing packages in a future article.
When you have shot your video if you are not able to master the editing then your local video company will be able to help out but you will have saved a good amount of money by getting this far yourself.
Remember preparation is everything, rehearse the person on camera, prepare the camera, sound and lighting gear before you start.