5 Tips to Shooting Great Video

Let’s get right down to business. You need to shoot a video, but you either don’t know where to start, how to begin, or the BASICS to pull it off. I get it. The ease and accessibility to create videos is now being required of all of us. So here’s what you need to know.

Top 5 tips to shooting great video

1. Camera

Of course you’ll need a camera. To make a good video, the TYPE of camera is irrelevant. Use a Flip, a consumer grade, iPhone, Android, iPad, whatever.

What your camera DOES need is a way to capture audio either with a solid built-in mic or an external mic jack. I PREFER the camera have an external mic jack, but work with what you have! To record, use an SD card, tape, internal hard drive…. again, doesn’t matter. Record any way you can and we will help you transfer it to your computer easily in a later post.

2. Audio
I will watch a video that is poorly shot, but has great audio. I will not watch a video that I can’t hear, no matter how beautiful the picture is. I highly recommend using a camera that you can plug a microphone into. I even use cheap $7 external mics from Radio Shack. They work.

However, if you don’t have a camera with an external mic, no problem. Just GET CLOSE to your subject if you are using the internal camera mic. No problem as long as you get close.

3. Lighting
Proper lighting is key. Here’s the main rule of thumb: Always make sure the light is behind the CAMERA, not your SUBJECT (person or thing.) Also, never shoot directly into bright light. Lighting is an issue videographers constantly struggle with. No worries. Just follow the rule, Light behind the camera, not the subject.

4. Tripod
Always, always, always use a tripod! Shaky shots are distracting. Yes, the handheld technique can be effective. Let’s talk about that later. Use a tripod! I am guaranteed to watch your video if it is steady.

If you are using a camera that doesn’t connect to a tripod, again, no worries. I tell my kids, “The world is your tripod!”  Find a chair, a stack of books, a desk, a banister, some kind of flat, non-moving surface and set your camera on it and shoot. Steady shots are key.

5. Tell a story
Every good video tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. If you follow the 4 steps above, but skip this step, you will not have a video worth watching. Tell a story. I would even look past ANY of the 4 steps above, if your video tells a story that I’m interested in.

Everyone has a story to tell. Plan out your beginning, middle and end BEFORE you begin shooting, and you can make a great video.

Of course, you will then need to edit your video, so check out Matt Rasgorshek’s tips here. Just wanted to cover shooting in this post.

If you master these 5 steps, feel free to move on to ways to positively impact your video content. Check out those 10 tips here or ways to create a student news package.

Don Goble

Don Goble is an award-winning Broadcast, Technology, Multimedia and Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. Journalism Education Association's National Broadcast Adviser of the Year in 2015, Don is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Lead Digital Innovator and author who advocates for media and digital literacy for all learners. Don masterfully engages students to author and craft media messages to build their voice and share their story.

Don Goble has 52 posts and counting. See all posts by Don Goble