Regardless of what camera you use, when filming yourself or a subject, you need to be mindful of setting up your camera and environment. Focus on three things: camera framing, lighting and audio.
The video below, created by Forrest Warner, Hamilton College’s Video Support Specialist, covers help with image quality, lighting and audio; and continues on to show simple ways to capture and edit video from a webcam or phone.
Best Practices for Creating Videos - Basics (Forrest Warner, Hamilton College)
Table of Contents
Tips to Help with Quality of Image, Lighting & Audio : 0:55
Webcam Capture for Mac : 10:18
Video Editing for Mac : 14:01
Webcam Capture for Windows : 18:22
Video Editing for Windows : 23:36
Tips for Filming with Phones : 26:36
Teleprompter : 28:01
Image by Jeff Scism
The Rule of Thirds
It’s a rule of thumb to help place yourself or a subject within the camera frame. Divide the frame into nine equal parts and place yourself or your subject on the lines or at intersection of the lines. When filming a person, placing the subject's eyes on the top horizontal line often produces pleasing results.
What’s in the Frame
What else is in the frame beside your subject? Try to avoid busy and cluttered backgrounds that can distract your audience.
By placing your camera at different distances from the subject you can achieve different shot types. Filling a large portion of the frame with your subject improves clarity for the viewer.
Image by Drew McClellan
Low light will give you poor image quality. All cameras love light so be sure your subject has plenty of light falling on it. Natural light, if available, is often best as it is more powerful than traditional indoor lighting. Setting your subject up in front of a window so the light falls on it is an easy lighting setup. If you don’t have access to natural light, try placing light sources close to your subject and arrange them to avoid harsh shadows.
Audio is often overlooked when creating videos but it is just as important as the visuals. Many external webcams and modern phones have good microphones but need the subject to be relatively close and the environment free from distracting noise. When moving farther away from the camera mic, not only will the volume decrease, but the quality of the audio will as well. Try recording your video in a quiet environment and consider an external microphone if you must be farther away from the camera.
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