How to shoot your video

Ideas

You may feel confident to just go ahead and shoot your video, but should you want some additional pointers to give you the best chance of producing a video worthy of one of the prizes, below are some tips and hints that will help.

Getting started

Before you so much as pick up your camera, the best way to tackle a video project is to draw up a list of ideas for your production. This could involve running possible plots past your friends, brainstorming with a loved one or simply considering possible scenarios in your mind.

Think about the place you love most of all and what you want to show off about it. You can start to compile a shortlist of landmarks or locations you are sure you wish to include in your video.

Some people might opt to entertain, while others will aim to educate. Decide what purpose your video will serve and how you will ensure it achieves its objective.

It is also important to consider whether you want to place music over your footage and if you have the resources to do this. If not, you could choose to narrate over your filming, allowing you to get the right message across.

Remember the limit on videos for the competition is three minutes, so you do not have a lot of time to go into depth. Instead, plan a short and snappy schedule that means you can get all your points across in the required timeframe.

Planning

So you have an idea in place and an outline of what you plan to capture, but have you planned the finer details of your video?

It is wise to come up with a shot-by-shot running list, so that you know exactly what footage you need to capture. And when you film, remember to take short-range, mid-range and long-range shots of everything, as this will allow you not only to use the most suitable, but also to mix it up in your final cut.

You should think about the story your video will tell and work out whether this will be conveyed most effectively through narration or with background music.

Consider the equipment you will need – from your smartphone or iPad to microphone, tripod and lighting, should you choose to use them – and make sure it will be available to you on your planned filming day.

And do not be afraid to ask for help, as sometimes the very best results will be achieved when you have somebody else to run ideas past or a friend who is happy to film you on screen.

It goes without saying that the most important piece of equipment in your quest to create a great film is the device you use to record your footage. If you have a specialist video recorder then you should make use of it, but if not it is likely you will opt to utilise the video capabilities of your phone.

The first question to ask yourself is just how smart is your smartphone?

The quality of your phone will have a huge bearing on the standard of your video. All the skills in the world cannot make up for a lack of great equipment, so hopefully you have a suitable device in place.

All of the latest top models will be capable of shooting video in at least 4K resolution, which will allow you to achieve incredibly high standards. In truth, you do not need 4K in order to capture high-quality video, and most reasonable Android and Apple models will offer suitable technology.

Do not be put off by the fact you do not have the latest gadget, but if you do you should embrace the fortunate position you are in by doing all you can to create an impressive clip.

Now you are ready to film. This is the most crucial stage of the process, as you need to capture exactly the right type of material if you are to make a success of your video. If the footage is wrong, there is little you can do to repair the damage in the long run.

Pick the right day and ensure your device is working. It may be that you wish to use a video-recording app on your phone, in which case you should test out several before the big day in order to work out your preferred option.

Not everybody can be a film expert, but that does not have to stop you creating a great video. However, if you are to achieve the desired results, you will have to watch out for some of the most common things that can have a negative impact on video productions.

Take lighting as a starting point. Poor lighting can be one of the clearest signs that a video has been shot by an amateur, so consider your surroundings and how they will affect your camera. Even specialist equipment can perform badly in dimly-lit places, so many smartphones will struggle too.

There is no need to buy expensive lamps or professional lighting solutions. Simply use naturally-lit locations for filming and position the camera nearest the sun so that it shines on the people or objects you are filming.

Just as important as lighting is sound. Audio can be the difference between a great video and a forgettable one, so if the background sound will be heard in your final cut you should ensure it is up to scratch.

If you own a microphone – or know somebody who might lend you one – it is well worth utilising this technology to reach the very highest standards in sound.

Also be sure to avoid tunnels and rooms with an echo, and try not to film on windy days. If somebody is speaking in your film, position the camera as close to them as possible.

Orientation is also important, and the easiest way to get around this is to flip your phone and film in landscape mode. This will help you to avoid black bars down each side of your clip.

Finally, remember to hold your camera in a steady way. A moving screen will give your production an amateur feel. Good ideas include holding your camera with both hands at all times, and resting your elbows on your waist to provide a solid platform.

Alternatively, the best option is simply to use a tripod, which will keep your camera still throughout filming and ensure superb results.

A quick search of your phone’s app store or online will reveal an extensive list of video-editing programs. Once you have chosen one, you can use it to piece together the various clips you have filmed to form a professional video and add music and other effects.

Remember there are some video-editing solutions that are worse than others, so do your research and find one that delivers what you are looking for.

If you are using an Android smartphone, some of the best options available to you include apps such as KineMaster, which offers a great selection of editing tools, and WeVideo, which allows you to publish videos in HD.

Arguably the best app for iPhone and iPad users is iMovie, which is incredibly easy to use for beginners yet advanced enough to be of use to experts. It allows users to add titles, music, voiceovers and photos.

Many of you will prefer to edit your video on a laptop or PC, in which case you can use web-based editing software. One great program is Windows Movie Maker, which is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iMovie. It does everything you will need as you create a video that is fit for the web.

If you do not think you will get on well with Windows Movie Maker, you could look at Lightworks as a viable alternative. This has been used by those behind a number of Hollywood films, including The Wolf of Wall Street, so its credentials are undoubtedly strong.