Whether using a broadcast-style camera or a portable camcorder, shooting a decent video is key to making audiences connect with your content. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a documentary piece or shooting a short drama for upload on YouTube; good quality video is important to grab the attention of viewers. But shooting handheld has its own challenges, camera shake being one of them. Is it possible to take great videos when holding a camera during a shoot doesn’t exactly guarantee quality? The following tips can help you towards becoming better at handheld video camera shooting:
Make do with a wide-angle lens
A wide-angle zoom captures a lot into a single frame, but that’s not the reason they are preferred when shooting handheld. Using any other lens makes it difficult to keep the camera steady, so you need just the right lens. Plus, shooting with a wide-angle means letting in more light, which is really necessary when capturing video.
It’s also tempting to zoom in and out of a scene when you have a wide-angle zoom lens. However, that’s a recipe for disaster, especially when your audience is concerned. So what happens when you have to get close? Rather than zooming in from a distance, use your feet to get close to your subject.
Learn how to control your breath
Even the slightest movement will have an effect on the resulting footage. It’s not that you shouldn’t breathe for the entire duration of the shoot; you just have to make sure that it doesn’t become a hindrance.
Since breathing is essential to living, how can you possibly control your breath enough to record decent footage? Learn to take deep breaths, before and during shooting.
Use anything you can find as a stabilizer
While keeping your feet apart and holding the camera close to your upper body provides the balance you need, sometimes just having something to lean on can be of great help. It can be anything: a wall, a post, or even your backpack. Anything goes as long as it can help stabilize the shot.
Bring an assistant
Shooting handheld often means walking backwards without being aware of the obstacles in your way. This can be dangerous should you trip or fall over because you missed a stone or any other object in your path. Now, not everyone can bring their own assistant but if you can, they can tell you where to go while you focus on getting the shot.
You and your assistant also need to figure out signals. Tugging on a shirt or belt won’t do with handheld video camera shooting since it can contribute to shake. Tapping on the shoulder can work. But whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you can respond to and one that doesn’t affect the video footage.
Cameras these days also come with image stabilization technology, which you should make use of but not rely on. Technology can definitely help, but only to a certain extent. You also have to do your part to get a good shot.