Got a Flip? Ready to Create Videos?

There have been some great sales lately on digital video cameras…..and some interesting opportunities for user generated learning content. Here are five tips to get the most out of your video:

1. Hold the camera steady and level. Think of it being the window into the viewer’s world. This is especially important for the Flip or any other small lightweight camera. People have a tendency to jerk small cameras around quickly which creates video that is unsettling to watch. It’s nice for special effects, but most content does not benefit from rapid movement of the camera. When appropriate, use a tripod to help keep the camera level and steady. Otherwise, hold your arms to your chest and camera close to your body to simulate a tripod stance.

2. Good, ample, bright lighting gives better results.If you don’t have the budget for studio lighting, at least control subject placement so that the subject is well lit.  For example, place them near windows for side lighting. Be careful of lights directly overhead as they give deep shadows on subjects faces. Learn about using “flags” to shade overhead lighting and enhance side lighting. Learn about basic light positioning – especially if you have the budget for even just portable studio lighting.

3. Good audio makes video look better.  Try to use an external mike closer to the subject rather than the on-camera mike. (Not available on the  Flip, but if your camera has an external mike jack, consider using it.)  A lightbulb changer extension pole with duct tape, an extension cable, and an inexpensive dynamic mike makes a great studio boom mike setup. Consider using a $60 audio mixer with a couple of mikes for interview formats.

4. To economize, shoot to minimize editing. Editing time can far outweigh shooting time so use a script and rehearse whenever possible.

5. If a subject flubs their lines, just keep rolling and have them only redo the mistake instead of starting all over from the top of the scene. Of all the edits you must do, cutting footage is the easiest to execute in this digital world. It’s easier to cut out the small mistakes than to go way back to the top of the scene. Also, repeating long sequences up to the mistake only invites more mistakes as most blooper reels demonstrate.

– Rick Darby


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