Shot in the foot? Or a bit on the side?

Kevin TimmsVideo

Perfect your filming skills

Learn how to avoid these basic filming errors in your home movies

We are so spoiled with the technology available to us now. Our mobile phones have greater computing power than the Apollo moon rocket, and are capable of taking crystal clear, high resolution photos and videos that capture every detail.

Video image technology has evolved through film, analogue tape, digital tape, digital DVD, and digital to memory card.  Lenses have become smaller and more powerful.

At Story Weavers we convert many video (and image) formats – including projector reels, VHS/Beta tapes, camera tapes and video DVDs, and we’ve come to appreciate how video creation has evolved, and improved, over the years.  Not many home movies captured on Super8 film include sound. Analogue tapes (such as VHS) produced such a low quality image in comparison to what even a basic mobile phone can deliver today, but each was the ‘bees knees’ of technology at their time.

Yet with all these great technical advancements we still make some basic errors when filming.  It’s very rare that we receive a video to convert/edit without one or more of the following ‘anomalies’ :-

The Lightning Pan

It’s a great view and you want to share it……so take it slowly, your audience doesn’t want to get ‘car-sick’ while trying to absorb the great view flying by at 100 miles an hour!  Plan your shot, practice the complete pan before you actually click the button, and breathe slowly while you complete the shot.

This problem has been around since the very early days of film – admitted the original 8mm films only held about 3.5 minutes of filming and were quite expensive to develop compared to the minimal cost of video today – so we were excused for trying to rush a pan shot because…. time was money.

Remember also that if you’re zooming in on some detail, any small movement of the camera will be amplified – consider using a tripod or bracing yourself against a tree or fence to steady the camera.

Shot in the foot

We started doing this when the technology no longer required us to hold a button ‘on’ to keep filming.  With the advent of ‘one click on’ – ‘one click off’ technology came a multitude of wonderful footage (excuse the pun) of the operators feet, the inside of the camera bag, or a 30 minute view of the car’s door upholstery accompanied by candid soundtrack of what everyone in the car got up to the night before.  Unfortunately this problem still manifests itself today especially on mobile phones and tablets.

Sound On

Tune in to what noises are around you while filming….and if you are making a commentary – don’t shout. Try not to include the conversations going on around you – it’s surprising what the microphone picks up.

A few years ago I was on holiday in America.  Whilst driving I would make quick video stops at the scenic vista points along the way to leap out the car and film the beautiful countryside.  It wasn’t until I reviewed the video after the holiday that I noticed every shot had the annoying soundtrack of  ‘ding, ding, ding’ – the car telling me that the car door was open!

A bit on the side

This problem is becoming increasingly prevalent with mobile phones and tablets when we hold the phone upright to film. And why shouldn’t we? The lens is at the top, the ‘go’ button is at the bottom and it’s easy to operate this way using the one hand.  Unfortunately that video you took of the Eiffel Tower is now on it’s side, and everyone who is watching it on your TV has their head at a funny angle to make it look right.

I find it interesting that most social media videos are recorded this way too, and for some quick ‘share and forget’ moments it’s not a great problem.  But if you’re recording something that you’re going to want to keep and watch time and again (baby’s first steps for example) simply turn the phone/tablet on it’s side to capture an image that’s the same orientation as your TV/monitor.

Sure, if you recorded in portrait mode you can rotate the video afterwards, but it ends up as a small vertical movie with a lot of black screen either side.

When we edit clients’ videos we try and ‘fix’ these problems – slowing down a lightning pan shot to make it more watchable, editing out ‘foot shot’ sections, reducing background noise or overdubbing with a music soundtrack, or getting creative with portrait videos in the editing.

Do you have a few of these classic filming errors lurking in your home movie collection? Let’s talk!

Contact us for a video editing quote