How to Create Hollywood-Worthy Home Movies
By Angela Hemming of Ahem Productions
1. Think before you shoot.
Imagine what you’d like the finished video to look like, from start to finish. Planning your video will allow you to shoot each shot with purpose, in sequence, so that the finished video makes sense without having to do any editing. Don’t go off on tangents in the middle of the video, grabbing a shot of something unrelated to your subject that will look out of place later. Stick to the plan.
2. Shoot at the level of your subject.
Videos about children and animals are always more captivating when they are shot at their level, rather than looking down on them. It makes the audience feel like they have entered the world of the subject. So make sure you are comfortable crouching down or sitting on the floor for the best shots.
3. Avoid shakey-cam and noisy-cam.
Unless you’re going for a Blair Witch look, shakey-cam is not cool. You might not notice it while filming, but your audience will feel seasick if you don’t steady the camera completely. Put the camera on a tripod, or brace yourself by leaning against a wall or placing your elbows on a table. You should let your subject do the moving, not the camera. Don’t zoom in and out. Sound-wise, the camera’s microphone is very close to your mouth and will pick up laughing and even heavy breathing, so unless you are narrating the video as you shoot it, shut up and let the subject to the talking.
4. Position yourself before you press record.
Professional cameramen take a long time setting up each shot before “rolling,” and you should do the same. Look through the viewfinder and make sure you like what you see before pressing record, and keep looking through the viewfinder the entire time the camera is recording. When your shot is done, press record again to stop recording, then lower the camera. Nothing says “amateur” like endless shots of the floor, taken because you forgot to turn off the camera and it kept recording. If you lower the camera before stopping recording, your audience will wonder if you’ve fallen off a cliff.
5. Get creative with titles.
You don’t need editing software to make titles for your video. You can create all your on-screen text by shooting it with the camera. Use a blackboard, a white board, alphabet soup, or write words in the sand on the beach. Make sure that you set up everything properly first, be VERY still while recording, and shoot each title long enough that someone could read the text 2-3 times. Generally that means about 5-6 seconds for a short title. If your titles appear at the beginning, shoot them first. If they appear at the end of your video, do them last.
And finally, don’t forget to thank all the little people who made your film possible!