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Top tips for self-filming: part two

Top tips for self-filming: part two

So, you’ve followed the basics and know how to line up your shots, what kind of background you want to use, and how to avoid entry level pitfalls. But what about starting to incorporate some more advanced techniques and variation into your video recordings?

Part two of our blog post series explores some handy ‘next-steps’ to take your filming to the next level:

  1. Keep your composure
    With the amount of Zoom meetings happening these days, you’ve probably noticed a lot of poorly composed, badly framed shots. But there are a couple of really easy ways you can instantly improve the quality of your framing:
  • In general, avoid low angles. It might take a bit more effort to raise your camera but it’s worth doing. The camera should aim to meet your eye level, or just slightly above if you want a more flattering angle. Try not to have more than a few inches of space above your head, as tilting the camera up too far can look clumsy and careless.
  • Stick to the ‘rule of thirds’. Split the frame up into three sections horizontally and vertically, so that there are nine squares in total. Use the bottom line of the top section as a resting point for your eyes and place any objects of interest where the lines intersect. This golden rule has been a valuable, trusted tool for filmmakers and photographers for many years, so never underestimate how valuable it can be for creating the most visually engaging shots.
  1. Up close and personal
    Close-ups can add considerable character to your footage. Subliminally, it tells the audience the information in the current sequence is more important, so they literally have to come in for a closer listen. If you watch carefully, many film scenes start wide and move closer as the drama increases. So, try starting your first shot from head to waist (a mid-shot) and then move in closely, so it’s just head and shoulders (a headshot). Make sure the camera is raised up to your eye level so that you don’t zoom into your chest. In the final edit, you’ll then have far more choices for shots which will bring your finished film to life.
  2. Making the final cutaway
    There’s an age-old phrase in filmmaking that goes as follows, ‘don’t just say it – show it’. No matter what your video is about, if it’s just footage of you talking, it will eventually become boring. Show the audience what you’re talking about by using cutaway shots to breathe life into your film. Literally, ‘cutting away’ from the person talking to another shot illustrates what they’re saying, plus makes a video visually interesting. They’re also a helpful way of moving between different dialogue takes, as the overlaid image will distract from any audio editing. Most importantly, make sure you match any cutaways with the rest of your video. For example, if your talking shot is static, make sure your cutaways are nicely composed and still too to contribute to the overall feel.

Start testing these out

Getting some of these techniques right can take a bit of practice but overtime you’ll find they add new layers of quality to your films. Look out for the next part of our blog post series for more advanced production tips to help you improve your footage even further.

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