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WMHT Our Town

Tips For Video Shooting

It?s wonderful to be part of an energetic and committed team, especially when it involves your neighbors and friends. What better way to nurture a sense of belonging and pride in your community than telling others why it's such a special place? This project capitalizes on both your enthusiasm and knowledge of your town.To help you tell the story more effectively we've asked our videographers at WMHT to share some of their secrets and strategies for successful videotaping. Here are their tips:


Before You Begin Shooting

• Think! Before you turn the camera on, take some time to reflect on the significance of your topic and why you chose it. If you are passionate about the subject it will result in better footage.
• Shoot ‘widescreen’ video if possible. If your camera can be switched between widescreen (16:9) and full screen (4:3) choose widescreen. Some cameras offer “letterbox” or “pan-scan” as a third option, but please don?t select them as your camera's aspect ratio.
• Image quality. If your camera has 'quality' settings make sure it is set to the highest possible quality.
• Time and date. Many cameras include a feature that imprints the date and time of a recording on the video. Please turn this feature off.
• White balance. If your camera has a white balance setting, set it to 'auto'.


While You're Shooting

• Trust your eye! If it doesn't look good to you on camera it won't look any better on TV.
• The more shots the better. Provide a variety of shots from different angles and focal distances (i.e. close up, wide shot, pan, zoom, etc.). All shots should be 10 seconds long or more. We need at least 20 different shots of your subject to piece a 2 minute story.
• Make sure that your camera is level and the scene looks straight in the view finder.
• Use a tripod to stabilize your video. When a tripod isn't available, use other solid objects to stabilize the shot – e.g., lean against trees, set your camera on a table top, or even sit in a chair and use the armrest to help make the picture steadier.
• Practice makes perfect! If your shot doesn't look the way you want on the first take –do it again! You can do multiple takes at different speeds to get the perfect pan or zoom.
• Don’t be afraid to move! Physically move your camera from one place to another in order get an angle that shows additional items you want to include.
• When shooting inside, make sure your video is well lit. Don't be afraid to bring additional lighting into a dark room or simply turn the lights on.
• Avoid shooting a person with a bright light in the background, such as a window. The camera will adjust for the bright light and make your subject darker. If this situation is not possible to avoid, many cameras have 'backlight' feature that will adjust for this. Please consult your user manual.
• Don't be afraid to get close. Detail shots are especially powerful when edited into a series, they provide the viewer with unique visual information and they can have high emotional impact. Long shaky zooms rarely look good.
• Faces! No matter what you?re shooting, don?t forget to shoot people as well. Try to get people in your shots “acting naturally”. Hamming it up for the camera, while quite natural for some people, will not usually make the final cut.
• Fill out your log. List the sequence of shots and accurately describe any locations or persons that need to be identified.


When You Come For Your Interview

• Remember to bring your footage and your log to the interview.
• Finalize your DVDs. If you?re shooting with a DVD camera or are delivering video from a past event or program, please make sure that the DVD has been “finalized”. This allows DVD's to be played in machines other than the one it was created on. If we can't play it at WMHT, we can't use it.
• You may use a still camera or give us photos that you already have about a subject. Will accept photos delivered to us on a CD, USB flash drive or photo prints. 
• If your camera records on flash media (like an SD card), or a hard drive, please bring the camera with to the interview. Some video formats require you to transfer the footage using the camera and we will only be able to use your footage if we can use your camera for playback. Make sure you bring the batteries, power cords, user manuals, installation discs and video cables.


Additional Resources

Want to make your videos even MORE spectacular? Websites such as Video Maker provide a number of free video tutorials on shooting techniques. We have included links to a selection of videos most relevant to OUR TOWN.

The Five Deadly Sins of Amateur Videography

Handheld Video Camera Shooting Tips

Mastering Your Camera Controls

Using a Tripod to Stabilize Your Shots