When it comes to what makes the cut, small details can make all the difference, and there’s often a fine line between what separates amateur video footage from the work of a professional.
If you’ve been following our top tips so far then you should have some of the fundamentals in place, but now it’s time to start thinking about adding in the game-changing final touches:
7. Sound check, 1, 2, 3
It doesn’t matter how great your footage looks if your sound quality is terrible. It’s worth taking a moment to listen carefully to the sound in the space around you. Take into consideration any potential interruptions in the immediate surroundings, whether that’s traffic, air conditioning or passers-by. Unless you’re looking for a bustling atmosphere and background noise, generally the quieter, the better. Selecting the acoustics of your chosen space is important because sound can bounce around in flat and open plan spaces and make your recordings unpleasant or difficult to hear. Think about what you can do to absorb the sound, if necessary, and use soft materials like curtains and carpets to deaden the noise.
Adding a decent microphone is a great way to immediately improve your sound quality, especially when you want to move the camera further away. For those on a budget, it’s fortunate there’s now a wide range of affordable, fairly high-quality microphones that can be plugged into smartphones. These come with functions that can reduce wind noise, record better bass tones, and make your sound fuller.
8. Lighten things up a bit
Lighting is an incredibly complex and skillful art. But there are some basic principles you can apply straight away. The first is making the most of the free-to-use, readily available natural light. Natural light is your friend when filming, so think about where it’s coming from to illuminate your shot. If you’re sat with a window behind you, your face will be dark, so a quick fix would be to adjust your positioning so that the light is shining on you at a 45° angle. This will not only fill your face with light, but give some interesting shapes and shadows to your other side.
As a general rule, the softer the light, the more flattering it will be. It’s good practice to let nature fill the ambient space with natural light, and then you can add an artificial light or two to enhance your face and figure and make it stand out on film. LED lights are lightweight, use very little power, and are often cheap. Female vloggers often favour a ring or ‘beauty light’ for an even fill of light around the camera. Try experimenting to get a good balance.
9. Three-point lighting
Three-point lighting is the basis of all professional photo and video shoots, so it’s good to have it in the back of your mind while shooting.
- Having your main lighting source at 45° to the camera is called a ‘Key Light’ (Point 1), and it should always be the brightest.
- After this, if you don’t want to have moody shadows or shapes, you’ll need to balance it with a ‘Fill Light’ (Point 2). This could be another diffused light source at half the intensity of the Key or even just a reflective surface, softening the shadows and bouncing light back onto the subject.
- Finally, the most effective lighting tool is your ‘Back Light’, which outlines the back of a person. By highlighting their shoulders and hair, you can really make them stand out against the background.
We hope our tips for self-filming have been useful and you start to notice the difference in your videos.
If you’ve found this series useful but would like extra help in devising, shooting, and editing your videos, then take a look at our partner page to find out about the services we offer with our partner Fine Young Films.