Vacations are one of the most common times to bring out the old video camera. We all want to capture the fun of camping and road trips and family gatherings. It can also be the time of frustration; the battery is dead, mismatched tapes, and unsatisfying video. “Why did we take 20 minutes of that waterfall, anyway?”
By following these simple tips, you can turn your dull video into exciting home movies.
1. Be prepared. Charge your batteries and have tapes ready before the summer starts. Take a few moments to glance at your owner’s manual. Get familiar with your camera. Practice taking some film before the big trip.
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Turn off the TV, radio, fans and other distracting ambient noise. Low light? Open the window shades, turn on some lamps. If it doesn’t look good on the monitor, don’t be fooled that it will look good on your TV
3. Be deliberate. Know what you are shooting before you turn on the camera. Don’t search for your subject while the camera is turned on.
4. Think about what you are going to shot. We have all seen this. Someone decides to set up the video camera and film the whole one hour gathering. Don’t shoot to just shoot. Get 2 or so minutes of one scene. Turn off the camera and get the next scene.
5. Slow and Steady. Professionals use tripods and for good reason. Shaky video can be nauseating to watch. If you don’t have a tripod, use what you have, your body. Firmly place your feet steady, elbows close to your body and shoot. While shooting, move the camera slowly.
6. Get down to their level. Kids are short. When filming get down to their level. Sit on the ground or bend down and shoot at their level. It is much better to get a face in the video instead of the top of a head! – Keep in minds this also applies to pets.
7. Be wary of zooming. When we zoom, every movement is exemplified. So unless you are using a tripod, it is difficult to get a steady shot. Instead get closer to your subject. Remember that audio won’t follow the zoom.
8. Get the whole family, including yourself!
9. Label, label, label. Perhaps the most important tip of all. We think we will remember the trip to Aunt Sally’s, but time flies but and we don’t. When starting a video, narrate the date and place and the circumstances. “It’s July, 2011 and we are excited to be at our cabin and go swimming today.” Label your camcorder tapes as soon as you put a new one in. Protect your camcorder tapes by switching the switch at the top of the tape to protect it being recorded over.
10. Store Properly. Dampness and humidity are enemies of video tape. Avoid storing in basements or garages. Instead store them under a bed in a plastic box or in a closet.
By following these simple tips, your vacation video will be memorable and will be shared with future generations.
Linda O’Connell is the owner of Take 5 Productions www.take5productions.net in Onalaska, WI. She transfers home movies to DVD and see lots of great – and bad home movies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.