Learn how to use a video camera to create professional looking home movies
Learn how to use a video camera with top advice from professionals in the film industry. A Sony handycam can be used to create beautiful, rich and long lasting images for all your special occasions. Reviewing your owner’s manual may offer some insight into how to use a video camera. However, there are some specific rules of thumb that will help you go beyond simple recording.
If you’ve always wanted to shoot videos like a pro, but never knew how, this online guide is for you. We provide easy tips for beginners who want to learn how to use a video camera. Find the most camcorder ratings with our online buyers guide. But first, read this insightful article on how to use a video camera, camcorder features, lighting kits and more.
Essential Film Tips
We all want to create timeless recordings of our special memories, rich with thought and color and illuminated with natural looking lighting.
Modern camcorders seem to offer everything we need in one camera. However, you may discover that you cannot rely on technology alone to capture the shots you want. In fact, great camcorder features like automatic lighting, should only be considered as secondary resources.
Learning the basic techniques about filmmaking will aid you greatly in learning how to use your new camcorder. So, before you start shooting, there are a few rules of thumb to consider.
The essential techniques to filmmaking are as follows:
- Camera angles
- Visual storytelling
Knowing how to tell a visual story is the number one technique you will need to master.
Begin by knowing what kind of story you are telling. Are you documenting a scientific event? Telling a love story between two people walking down the aisle? Or are you telling a story about a special day, like your child’s first birthday?
With any visual story, you must capture the physical actions which relay the story to the audience. Cross cutting between two separate aspects, or story perspectives, is a good way to keep your audience interested in your film.
Knowing the tone or theme of your visual story will help you choose the proper lighting and camera angles.
Here are a few common camera angles that can create dramatic tension:
- High angle
- Low angle
- Flat angle
Cameramen create stories with a series of shots like a long shot, establishing shot, medium shot and close up.
A long or establishing shot shows the viewers where they are, while medium shots reveal the action of the scene. A close up is generally used to convey important intimate moments, like reading vows at a wedding.
When you’re working with a camcorder, avoid the pitfalls of "the camera shake". Always use a tripod, only transferring to handheld when you’ve gained some experience.
Lighting & Sound
Creating the perfect lighting is extremely hard and almost impossible to do, unless you are a professional. However, since lighting is so important in maintaining beautiful looking shots, here are a few tips.
Remember the three point lighting rule – key, fill and background. A key light will enhance the action subject, while the background light illuminates from behind. For depth, a fill light will soften out the harsh effects of the first two lights.
To get the same effect on an automatic camera try using an extra head light at the front of your camcorder. This can be used in place of a key light.
If you’re using an automatic lighting system on your camcorder, keep extra light sources like lamps out of the shot. They will only serve to discolor the equilibrium of the picture.
Another rule of thumb is to never shoot a subject standing in front of a window, or with just a background light. You will experience overexposure, and your subject will appear as nothing more than a silhouette.
Be careful when recording sound. Do sound checks before you begin and constantly monitor the sound levels using headphones.
The only thing worse than finding shaky camera work in the editing room, is realizing that the sound has been drowned out by honking cars or muffled voices nearby.
Professionals use a video monitor to check the entire look of a recording, as the action is being recorded. If you are planning on recording a wedding or other special event professionally, a video monitor is a must.
Using Camcorder Features
Once you’ve worked on your camcorder techniques, take a look at your user manual to get an idea of the types of features you can utilize.
Rookie photographers and beginners can create professional looking shots by understanding how their particular camcorder works.
There are many common features available on today’s digital video camera market, like:
- Automatic focus
- Automatic exposure
- Steady shot
From the picture, to sound, to editing, there are plenty of features to master with your digital camcorder.
Automatic focus is one of the most popular features on cameras today. Remember that it shouldn’t be used in place of learning how to focus the camera yourself.
Automatic focus works at its best in well lit environments and requires plenty of battery power. This feature focuses on the changing subject closest to it and may not necessarily be what you want to use.
Automatic exposure and white balancing are great tools to learn how to use. This can take care of sun glare and irregular shading.
Two features that are wonderful to have are image stabilization and a zoom lense. These features help to create smooth, stable transitions between long shots, medium and close ups.
Go to our buyers guide for more information and links to great manufacturers.