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3.1 Five Sure Signs of Amateur Video

Learning how to record good video starts with learning about the bad. This lesson examines some of the most common video mistakes and why they happen.

3.1 Five Sure Signs of Amateur Video

Welcome back. So you and your gear have arrived at your destination in one piece and you're ready to start recording your amazing adventures. In this chapter, you'll learn the basics of capturing good video. Things like proper framing and composition, how to use your environment when recording video handheld, and tips for audio and lighting. Part of learning how to shoot good travel videos is in identifying what bad video looks like and more importantly why it happens. So we can avoid making these mistakes ourselves. In this lesson, we're going to take a look at five sure signs of amateur video. First up, something I like to call firehosing. If you've ever watched firefighters try to put out a fire you know exactly what I'm talking about. Picture a raging house fire. Firefighters rushing into the house with their hoses blasting water. What happens next? Well they spray water at the ceiling, they spray it in the corner over here, they spray water everywhere, continuously moving that nozzle up and down and all around until the fire is out. We see the same principle in action with amateur video. Let's suppose the guy across the street from that house fire grabs his video camera to capture all the action. He rushes out the front door, he hits that record button, and he starts shooting video. Mr. Neighbor records everything, continuously moving the camera up and down and panning left and right. Zooming in and out until the action is over, it's enough to make you seasick. Fire hosing occurs because people don't know what they want to shoot so they shoot everything continuously. They use the viewfinder instead of their eyes to see what or where they want to shoot. The result is a long, boring pointless piece of video that no one wants to sit through. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you a simple technique to avoid firehosing and take control of your storytelling. Our next sure sign of amateur video is the shakes. This usually happens because the person is capturing video hand-held. In other words, without using a tripod or other stabilizing device. Let's face it, most people don't own a tripod. And even if they do, they're not going to lug it along when they travel. There's nothing wrong with recording video handheld. I do it all the time. I'll show you how to make your shots as steady as possible and how to use your environment as a tripod. Another hallmark of amateur video is bad audio or no audio. Most people don't give much thought to sound. After all, video is all about the pretty pictures right? Wrong. Sound is just as important. If we have to strain to make out what someone is saying, it won't matter how brilliantly composed your scene is or that it was shot in high definition. Bad audio is extremely frustrating for the viewer. It usually happens because most people rely on the microphones that are built into their recording device. Whether that device is a video camera, DSLR, smartphone or whatever these built in mics have limitations. Now this doesn't mean that you have to run out and buy an external microphone, although it's a good idea. I'm going to give you some tips on how to record the best audio using what you've got. Another common mistake we see with amateur video is something called backlighting. This happens when you place your subject in front of a bright source of light, like a window. As you can see the subject ends up in silhouette. Now chances are you were able to see the subject's face just fine when you were standing there looking at them in person. Without getting too technical here, the camera's iris detects the bright source of light and becomes smaller to reduce the amount of light coming in, sort of the same way the pupils of your eyes become smaller when you step outside on a sunny day. This lowers the light level in the entire scene and as a result your subject ends up looking too dark. The easiest way to avoid this is to add some fill light. But again, lights are not something everyone wants to lug along on a trip. I'll show you how to use natural light to your advantage. Last but certainly not least my personal pet peeve when it comes to capturing video with a smartphone, vertical video. Vertical video happens when you hold your phone the wrong way, as you know we can shoot photos by holding a phone horizontally or what's often referred to as landscape mode or vertically often called portrait mode. But it's a different story with video. Yes, you can hold the phone vertically and hit the Record button, in fact you see people doing it all of the time and it actually looks fine when you play it back on your phone. The problem comes when you go to share that video on social media or watch it on a computer or TV screen. This is what your video will look like. See those big black spaces on either side of the video and the way the video shows only a tall narrow slice of the scene. This is vertical video. It happens because the screens we watch a video on, are horizontal. The obvious solution is to hold your camera horizontally when shooting video. Now I know what you're going to say. What if the thing I'm shooting is really tall and skinny, like a tower or a building and it doesn't fit into the screen when I hold my phone horizontally? You're gonna learn ways to deal with that as well. So there you have it, five sure signs of amateur video and why they happen. Now let's tackle how to avoid them. In the next lesson, you'll learn the basics of framing and simple techniques to avoid fire hosing and vertical video. Stay tuned.

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