By Liam Garrahan, video journalist

Everyone’s done it; you look at videos that your competitors put out and you think “how hard can it be?” But so many times people meet the same old pitfalls, and then they realise just how hard it is to produce a killer piece of film. This list of dos and don’ts will help give your video content that professional shine.

Do

  • Film in HD

Always film in HD. If your server or software can’t handle the footage you will always be able to scale it down in post-production. You don’t want to be in a situation where you end up with poor quality footage because upscaling it can have nightmarish consequences on the look of the video.

  • Monitor audio levels

You might think that poor audio can be rectified in post-production, but you’re wrong, it can’t. Make sure you always monitor your audio input levels because if you don’t you can spend hours fiddling with settings in post trying to get something that sounds vaguely “alright”.

  • Use the rule of thirds

This is something that I stressed in a previous post, but it can’t be stressed enough, even TV news gets it wrong sometimes. Cut your screen into thirds (figuratively) and line up your interviewees against the lines. The eyes should intersect the top horizontal line and the nose should align with one of the two vertical lines.

  • Leave the camera rolling for a few seconds

It will probably end up on the cutting room floor but by leaving the camera filming for a few seconds at the end of a shot you will ensure that you have enough space to adjust your edit if you have to, meaning no more harsh cuts. It’s nice to have a bit of breathing space.

  • Record natural sound

Natural sound is simply the atmosphere around you, but it does have practical benefits. By recording 30 seconds of natural sound with an interviewee you gain sound bites that can be used to link your interview snippets together. No more dodgy audio jumps.

Don’t

  • Never use jump cuts, they’re completely unnatural. If you want two snippets of an interview you should glue them together with another shot over the top, combined with a wee bit of natural sound to blend it together seamlessly.
  • You might feel inclined to respond to your interviewee, but unless you’re there to challenge them on an issue then don’t, it will be a struggle (and nigh-on impossible) to edit your voice out of the final edit. If you want to respond stick to nodding, it’s silent and still encourages your interviewee to say more.
  • Try to avoid getting your equipment in shot. Unless you’re on a tight time restriction or you only have a gun mic, always try to hide microphones and wires. You’re not TMZ.
  • Don’t go handheld unless you really have to. Tripods are cheap now, and if you’re in a cramped area it’s worth investing in a monopod. You can stabilise footage in post-production but it usually leaves a weird warp effect on the footage.
  • Don’t invest in a memory card that’s too small. There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot to delete footage that you may still need, so always go for at least a 128gb card.

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