Holidays not only bring out the merrymakers, they also bring out the camcorders. So come summertime, I usually head to the beach with my cam handy, ready to film all those ladies who are frolicking along the coast like they’re part of the Baywatch cast (along with footage of the occasional pot-bellied man with tufts of chest hair).
Granted, not everyone is as creepy as I am, but most people are similar to me when I first started recording videos – I sucked at it. It’s an ugly truth, but the truth nonetheless. You see, no amount of money spent on a top-notch camcorder can prevent videos from ending up crappy if the user doesn’t know the first thing about using his or her gadget.
Yet I was bent on capturing great moments, so I spent a bit of time and effort to learn how I can create compelling vids. Let me share those tips to you:
Be a Boy Scout – Always Prepared
Whenever or wherever you have your camcorder with you, you should have the following in your backpack:
- At least one fully charged spare battery
- A battery charger, especially if you don’t have spare batteries (duh)
- A cloth for cleaning the lens. No editing software in the world can clear up footage captured with smudged lenses.
- Two or more blank tapes, apart from what you think you need
- An extension cable; this is for the power supply
- A tripod; always have one around, even if you don’t think it’s necessary
- Some duct tape, in case you need to tape down any wires or cords you’ll be bringing along
- All your accessories – lens filters, lighting gear, microphones, etc.
Know the Ins and Outs of Your Camcorder
You can’t go to war with a gun that you don’t know how to use. In the same way, I advise against getting into videography if you don’t fully know how to operate your camcorder yet. So if aliens landed on your lawn, you should be ready to turn on your auto focus, adjust your shutter speed, or do whatever else it takes to make sure you film those aliens – it’s not like you get to see them everyday, and on your yard at that.
Be Afraid of the Dark
Many people are afraid of the dark, but the ones who probably fear it the most are videographers and photographers. You see, most camcorders don’t do well in settings with inadequate light. Even post-production efforts can only go so far as to fix footage captured somewhere dark or dim. Now one of the simplest ways to overcome lighting challenges is to film outdoors. If it’s too sunny, do the shoot in the late afternoon or in the morning, as the sun might cast unflattering shadows on your subjects.
Use Your Tripod
Shaky footage of a good looking person isn’t that fun to watch. You know what is? A crisp, rock-steady video of that same good looking person! So if you find that your hands are unreliable with a camcorder, use a tripod instead. However, if you intend to rely on the digital image-stabilization feature of your camera, don’t. This only serves to lower the resolution of your vid as it crops to your frame’s center. Although optical image stabilization is a better alternative, it still can’t beat the rock-steady effect of a tripod.