01 Camera-work

1. Keep Calm. Don’t hurry: good shots need time to be positioned. Work as little manually as possible. The automatic mode usually gets it right. Especially as an inexperienced video journalist you can save a lot of time if you use the automatic as often as possible.

2. Hold the camera as steady as possible. Support your camera on the back of a chair. Lean against a wall. Put the camera on a table or a ledge. Use a bean bag. That is a bag filled with beans or with rice on which you place the camera to align it. Bean bags also give support at unusual positions as for example in the fork of a branch.

3. Take a tripod for non-moving shots with long duration, pictures with long focus and stills, i.e. shots of photos and graphic images. Moving pictures and actions require a moving camera, static pictures a tripod. Panning shots are better hand-held.

4. The rule of seven seconds. Don’t take snapshots. Let the camera run at least seven seconds. When editing, you will need different IN and OUT points. Pans and zooms should be steady for some seconds at the start and at the end allowing you to use the steady-frame as well.

5. Five-shot-coverage. Shoot from different positions with different frame sizes. Generally five shots are enough: the person with surroundings, the face, hands, overshoulder and an unusual perspective.

6. Shoot loads of footage. The day doesn´t come again. What you have not recorded, you can not cut. Shoot cut-ins (closer shots), cut-aways (pictures of the surroundings) and reaction shots (faces) as a back-up for intermediate cuts.

7. Show the motive clearly. The main thing should immediately be discernible: big, well illuminated and more or less in the centre of the frame. The viewer must recognize it at once. The biggest mistake for beginners is to leave too much space around the main motive. Static pictures require more composition.

8. Careful with high contrasts. The exposure adjusts automatically to the brightest spot. If someone is positioned in front of a bright window they will come out black. Use the manual mode with high contrasts.

9. Film people, people and people. Get some of the location, but then more people: moving people, people from different perspectives, people in action. People love to see people.


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