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Plan Your Shoot

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Buying the right camcorder is only half the problem solved. If you don't know how to operate it properly then you risk being the guy with ‘all the gear, but no idea'. We've already explained the importance of good sound and lighting, as well as what the settings on the camcorder do and when to use them. This week, we have a selection of simple tips which will help improve the quality of your video - and most of them are free.

Plan Your Shoot

There's nothing like a bit of thinking in advance. Most people just whip the camcorder out when the events seem appropriate (or even when they don't…). A Hollywood movie, in contrast, will have every shot planned out, usually with a storyboard containing little hand drawings approximating how each shot will be laid out and framed.
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Always try and get as many different shots of the same thing as possible.


Unless you're filming your own amateur drama, you won't have this much control. But even when shooting something totally unpredictable, you should think about which shots you need to tell the story or get your message across. Primarily, you should always shoot with editing in mind - in other words, how each shot will fit with others to make the finished product. Thinking ahead like this will often save you from those times when you get back home and wish you'd filmed something which you didn't.

So try and get a few wider shots to use as cutaways or to set the scene, then make sure you vary how close subsequent shots are. If you're interviewing people and they mention objects in the vicinity, get shots of those too, in a variety of different ways. Shoot a few zooms, a pan across or two, and a static shot as well. This will keep your options open when editing, so you can choose the best shots for your final edit - especially useful if you're not using a pre-defined storyboard.

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