Tips for making a great video

These days almost anyone can make a short video. You don’t need a video camera to do it; most computers have a programme to record decent quality videos, as do most mobile phones and even digital cameras. If you are new to making a home video, or if you just want to refresh yourself on the ‘rules’ for recording something that will help your child shine, here are some useful tips.

Shoot in landscape view


Turning your phone sideways will give you a better looking video

Want a super simple way to improve the quality of your videos? Turn the phone on its side. Many people shoot in portrait mode – the same vertical hold you use to check email or take a call. But shooting a video this way means the picture will get squeezed between two huge black bars on either side and become difficult to view on computer monitors and TV screens. Shoot in horizontal or landscape mode and you’ll immediately see a huge improvement in your smartphone and tablet videos.

Frame the shot

Instead of putting your subject right in the middle of the shot, framing him or her slightly off-centre – either to the left or the right will give a more professional look to your video.

What’s going on in the background?

Does it look like there’s a plant in the background growing out of your child’s head? Is there noise that might make it hard for the microphone to pick up what your child is saying? Take a moment to check what’s going on in the background before you press ‘record’.

Forget the zoom

Professional film makers sometimes use a zoom to create emphasis, but getting it right takes a lot of practice and for a short video clip it is almost always unnecessary and can make editing difficult. Frame the shot the way you want it and while your child is talking forget about the zoom.

Use two hands

One of the great benefits of the smartphone is its ability to fit snugly in your hand. Yet you’ll rarely catch a professional cameraman or photographer holding any type of camera with just one hand. That’s because it’s much harder to keep a device from shaking when holding it with one hand

To keep your tablet or phone steady, hold it close to your body with both hands for greater support. Better yet, rest your elbows on a table or lean against a wall for more stabilisation. Alternatively try a tripod. Some camera phones actually come with one these days. Shooting from a flat surface or, with a tripod, is the best way to get a steady shot.

Lighting, lighting, lighting

Natural light can lift the quality of your film, and if you can film during the day in natural light so much the better. If you are filming indoors try to make sure it is in a well-lit room.

Look through the lens or on screen from a few different angles to determine the best lighting. You don’t want the sun in their eyes, but neither do you want it, or an artificial light shining from behind creating a halo effect around an otherwise dark face. Sometimes just moving a couple feet in a different direction will make all the difference to how well-lit your subject is.

Don’t talk

Filming kids in any situation is difficult, and it’s tempting to try to direct them from behind the camera. Remember also that if you are using a camera phone or video camera you will be closer to the microphone than they are and your voice could drown theirs out.

The time to talk to your kids and help them feel confident in what they say is before you start to shoot. You may want to ask your kids questions from behind the scenes, but tempting as it may be to provide prompts, let them answer without interruption.

Get down to their level

Shooting down at your child from adult height can sometimes make an interesting, arty perspective. But overall it’s probably better if you shoot the video from their height. Get down to your child’s eye level and bring your video camera with you for a more natural perspective and one that gives your child a greater sense of authority.