The 4 Biggest Mistakes when Shooting Video

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1 - Panning and Zooming.

This a very basic error for people when they first start using their video camera as they have no idea of the correct way of shooting professional looking video. It is easy to start the camera recording and just walk around and pan and zoom at everything that moves. The trouble is that their footage will always look like home movies and will be impossible to edit into anything that looks good. If this is you, without learning the correct skills this will never change and whatever you shoot will always look like home movies. If you want to start to learn how to change this check out How to Stop Panning and Zooming .

2 - Shooting on Auto.

Similar to 1, this problem relates back to ease of use. It is very easy to put the camera on Auto and expect that it will record everything perfectly. Good luck with that. The reality is video cameras are very easily tricked by one of the many variables in the shots that you are taking.

The auto functions that you need to learn to use manually are-

  • Exposure - the camera doesn’t know whether you want the bright part of the shot or the dark part of the shot to be the most important. Quite regularly, it will choose the wrong one. Also check that the auto function isn’t putting gain into your shot to give you more exposure, this will appear as a lot of noise of grain in your image.
  • Focus - usually your shot will have close objects and distant objects in the same shot so your camera will try to guess what to focus on. Sometimes it will keep changing between them and really muck up your shot.
  • White balance - color balance, color temperature are all related.  The color of sunlight, shade light, interior available light, tungsten light and flouro lights is significantly different. On Auto setting your camera will try to stay balanced for whatever colored light you are shooting under. However, it is easily tricked because many times you will have a mixture of different colored light sources in the same shot. This will not be good if your camera has decided to balance to a color that you don’t like, or even worse if it keeps changing color during the shot. Learn to do your own white balances.
  • Audio levels - are a difficult one because you really don’t have much of a guide as to where to set your audio levels, even if you do switch them to manual. Start to experiment on manual setting as your audio is critical and if your levels are doing whatever they like, you will end up with some nasty surprises. Most cameras I have seen seem to be happy set about two thirds of the way up the meter, but see if there is a proper guide in your manual.
  • Shutter – some cameras will adjust the shutter to give you what they think should be the right exposure

You need to learn how to take control of all these functions so that you have a choice of changing something that you don’t like, or is obviously wrong. It also gives you much more creative control.

3 - Not Thinking.

Whoa don’t hate me for this one but, you have to start thinking about what you are trying to achieve with your story and each shot in your story. If you have read much of my material, you will have seen that I am trying to get you to use your mind to imagine your stories and imagine your shots. Being able to shoot professional looking video is not easy, especially if you aren't prepared to put the effort and the thought into achieving it. On the other hand it is easily achievable if you learn the essential skills you need and then think about what you are doing whenever you are using your camera.

4 - Not Practicing.

It doesn’t matter how much I tell you or how much money you spend on equipment, it won’t make any difference to your footage if you don’t pick up your camera and start to use it. Just think, a working cameraperson at a TV station will shoot at least 5 days a week, and 3 or 4 or 5 stories a day. That is a lot of time looking at shots, and thinking about how they will fit together to make a story. They will also have the pressure of making every story a good one if they want to keep their jobs. If you want to start to shoot professional looking video learn as much as you can and practice it as often as you can.

If you haven't done it already check out the Video Camera Course.

Please leave me a Comment or ask a question so we can start a discussion.

Other posts that may help you-

Why You Don't Know What Shots to Take

Taking Pictures is like Life

How to Shoot Great Looking Video

So You Want to be a Paid Videographer

Affordable In-House Video Production

You May be Destroying the Story with Your Camera

Wow! Check out These Camera Angles

The Curse of the Handycam

To Video or to DSLR?

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  1. Hazie

    Congratulations on the site and bloggs Geoff. Fantastic info. Wish you further success!

  2. Geoff Stock

    Thanks Paul, I am trying to help anyone who wants it. Thanks for your support. Geoff

  3. Jim Ross

    Practice practice practice. I am amazed when people are amazed that they can’t just pick up a video camera and shoot like a pro. Though they would never think they could pick up a violin and play like a virtuoso. Good video is the result of talent, training, and honing of skill. Just like anything else done right.

    Good job Geoff!

  4. Geoff Stock

    Thanks for your comment Jim. You’re absolutely right, You need to practice to the point that you don’t have to think about how to use any of the functions of your camera. Then your thought process can be about how to shoot all of the shots you need to tell your story. The problem for most people is illustrated by a comment made by a number of my learners, “I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Makes it hard to know what to ask about and what to learn about, doesn’t it.

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