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CENE 150 Introduction to Environmental Engineering

A guide for CENE 150 students to help with their essays and video presentation using library resources

Recording Video

Videography is the process, or art, or making videos. A videographer is someone who is responsible for recording live events and small scale video productions. Videographers often focus on smaller productions like documentaries, live events, short films, legal depositions, weddings, birthday parties, sports events, commercials, and training videos.

Want to built your videography skills? Click the image below to view a Udemy video production training course (available to NAU affiliates). 


Videography course from Udemy screenshot.

Tips for Better Video

Nothing makes a media project look more amateurish than poor videography. Follow these tips to record the best video possible:

1) Plan your Video in Advance

Many students think that the quickest way to create a media project is to pick up a camera and start shooting, but a lack of planning can leave your viewers underwhelmed and result in a poor grade. This is why it is extremely important to take the time to plan your video thoroughly before you start production. When making a video, you should always start by defining your project and thinking about what ideas you want to communicate and how. Be sure to brainstorm unique ways of presenting your topic - maybe interviews work best, or perhaps you can incorporate skits - just make sure to think outside the box. Once you’ve defined your project, write a script and create a storyboard. View the "Pre-Production" section form more information about scripting and story boarding.

2) Use Plenty of Light

Poorly lit videos strain the eyes of your viewers and reflect poorly on your project, so it is important to consider lighting when you are filming (whether that be indoors or outdoors). Before you set up your light sources, consider the effect you want to create in your finished video. Do you want your subject’s face entirely lit up (“soft” or “flat” light), or do you want some shadows (“hard” light)? If you’re filming outdoors in natural light, try filming in the morning or evening when the light is softer and doesn't cast harsh shadows. Softer light is also more flattering. If you’re filming indoors, avoid overhead lighting where possible and instead look for natural light from windows. You can also use lamps to get the exact type of light you want.

3) Choose your Background Wisely

When planning a shot for your video you want to make sure that the audience focuses on your subject and not the background behind them. There are many things to consider when choosing a background but the key is to minimize elements that will make the scene look cluttered and draw attention away from your subject. Make an effort to use simple backgrounds when possible (a wall, a solid color bedsheet, paper backdrops, etc.) or to carefully reduce the clutter behind your subject. It's also important to avoid too much action in the background that can become distracting (traffic, students walking by, interfering bystanders, etc.). Finally, make sure to place your subject a few feet away from whatever background you choose in order to add depth to the shot and avoid casting a harsh shadow.

4) Use White Balance

If you intend to shoot scenes of your video in a number of different settings (like outdoors, in natural light, in artificial light, etc.) then using the white balance setting on your camera is vital. Different lighting conditions across scenes can create competing pigmentation throughout your video. For example, sunlight can often give a scene a yellowish look, while fluorescent lights can produce a blue tint to a scene. These competing pigmentations create inconsistency and harm the visual flow of a video project. Setting the white balance on your camera ensures that the colors of your video remain the same even in different lighting conditions. Just make sure you reset your camera's white balance every time you switch lighting conditions.

View the video below to learn how to set the white balance on the library's Canon Vixia camcorders.

5) Avoid Shaky Footage

Unless you are planning a moving shot, you'll almost always want your camera on a tripod. Shaky footage can disorient your viewers and make your videos look amateurish. Once your camera and tripod are set up, try not to move them. If you do need to pan, zoom, or tilt the camera, do so carefully and with smooth hand movements - like you're holding a full cup of hot coffee.

If your footage still turns out shaky despite your best efforts, video stabilization software can help to fix it in post-production (available in programs like Adobe Premiere Pro). Some cameras also have built-in stabilization that you can use while you’re filming. Slowing down the speed your footage in post-production can also help to make shakiness less obvious. 

6) Apply the Rule of Thirds

Image result for rule of thirds

What many beginners don’t realize is that good videography involves more than just aiming your camera. It also involves arranging your shot and using visual elements to tell your story and ensure the scene is aesthetically pleasing.

Among the most important videography tips and compositional rules is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine that there’s a 3-by-3 grid laid over the shot you’re filming. Instead of placing your subject right in the middle of the shot, you should place your subject along one of the lines of the grid. The points where the lines intersect are particularly strong areas of focus, so situate important elements of the video there, if you can. 

7) Shoot from Multiple Angles

Cutting from one angle to another in a single scene is a great way to add visual interest to your video. This is an especially useful technique if you’re making a how-to video, a product demo, or another type of video that shows you doing something rather than just talking. When you change perspectives, shift by at least 45 degrees. Smaller shifts in perspective don’t really create the intended effect – they just look jarring to the viewer.

8) Shoot to Edit

Most importantly of all, when recording a scene, be sure to always record more footage than you'll actually need. Shoot multiple takes to get different sound or lighting conditions and shoot the same take from a number of different angels. The idea here is to collect as much video as possible in order to give yourself plenty of options while editing. While this may seem like a waste of time, it will actually save you time in post-production, especially if you find a clip that has poor lighting or audio quality. Nothing is worse than having to re-record a scene just to make up for a mistake in filming.