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Do This When Shooting Video for the First Time: A Checklist

Just bought a video camera or camcorder and are anxious to get down to shooting your first video? you could do well to go through this checklist to ensure that  your video shooting adventure progresses without a hitch. 

Read Your Manual First 

Are you all excited to shoot your first video without really even
bothering to read your video camera or camcorder manual? Resist the
temptation. As boring as your camcorder manual may be it’s worth
investing your time in it.

Firstly,  you’ll fully begin to appreciate the full power of your
video camera and know what it can do and what it can’t. Secondly,
when you need to perform  a function  like for example you want you
to use the night shot function, you don’t have to scratch your head
figuring out where it is.

I once faced this problem,  when I was trying to shoot a night scene
without much lighting since I  couldn’t locate the control for the
function, I just gave up. This taught me a good lesson – familiarise
yourself with the camcorder manual if you want to do some serious
shooting with your camcorder.

Assuming you’ve done that, Let’s get started with how you should go
about shooting video for the first time.

Step 1 : Ensure You Have a Fully
Charged Battery

The first step is to ensure that your camcorder battery  is fully
charged If you’re shooting an important project, you don’t want to
run out of battery power halfway through. Have your spare battery
also fully charged. Ideally, you should charge your batteries hours
in advance so that you can fully concentrate on your shooting.

Step 2 : Set Your White Balance
After switching on your video camera or camcorder and removing the
lens cap, press the white balance button. Setting the white balance
will ensure that the colours your camcorder capture is well-balanced
for the lighting condition you’ll be shooting in. You don’t want any
trace of of the three primary colours showing up when you shoot
something white.

Press the white balance button and shoot a white piece of paper.

If you’re just using an entry level video camera, you don’t have to
worry about setting your white balance, as it will be done
automatically for you.

Step 3: Take Care of The Tape
If you’re using a tape-based camcorder, insert a blank tape and
press the rewind button to ensure you’ll be shooting from the
starting point of the tape.

Step 4 : Use Manual Focus

Turn off auto focus if your camera comes with manual focus.  Aim
your camera at a subject of our interest and press the
RECORD/STANDBY button.  At this juncture, avoid the temptation to
use the ZOOM button to shoot a distant object. It makes your shots
unsteady and drains your battery power fast.

If the image on the viewfinder or LCD is out of focus, adjust the
focus ring until you end up with a clear and sharp picture.

Step 5 : Go for  Short Recording
Avoid the temptation to record for a long period of time. Avoid
moving your camera from subject to subject at this point. Adopt a
disciplined approach. Record a subject for about fve seconds or so.
Then STOP and move on to another subject.

Step 6:  Study What You’ve Shot
Fully rewind the tape. Play back the tape to study what you’ve shot.
You’re now ready to watch what you’ve shot. If you’ve read your
manual carefully, you would have learnt how you could play your
video back.

You have two options to play back what you’ve shot. One is to view
your your shots through the viewfinder. If your viewfinder could
only display video in black and white, then you would have to view
it in an external monitor, if your camcorder does not come with a
LCD screen.

Again if you’ve read your manual carefully, you would have learned
how you could connect your camcorder to your television monitor
There would be video out terminals or AV out. What you would have to
do is connect the RCA cables for video and audio to the AV in of
your television set.

If your TV has multiple AV in terminals, you would have to switch to
the AV terminal you’ve connected the RCA cables with your TV remote.

Also make sure your camcorder is switched to the VTR mode, or the
video playback mode. Again this would be explained in your camcorder
Now press the PLAY button on the camcorder. If you’ve made the
proper connections, then
you should see your recorded video on  the TV screen. If you don’t
see anything,  refer to your camcorder manual and your television
manual for guidance.

Step 7: Learn From What You’ve Shot
If you’re shooting for the first time, you would be disappointed
with the result. This is only to be expected. Anyway, the shots are
not supposed to be that good. So, don’t compare them with
professionally-shot video you see over television.

Take the opportunity to learn as much as possible  from the video
you’ve shot fpr the first time. Don’t repeat the same mistakes in
the next shoot. Make notes on how you could improve your shots.

Your notes may look something like this:

1) Don’t move from one subject to another quickly. Shoot for your
audience. Consider what they would like to see and how long they
would prefer to see. As a guide, hold your shots for at least five
seconds before moving on to another subject.

2) Don’t zoom. Move closer to the subject instead.

Step 8 : Shoot the Same Subjects

After viewing your shots, you may have ideas to shoot the same
subjects differently. You may want to shoot your subjects with
different camera angles or open a window to let in more light to
illuminate your subjects.

Go ahead and do whatever you think will improve your shots.  Be
excited with the good shots you come up with. But don’t be
disappointed with the not-so-good ones when you’re shooting video
for the first time. Keep shooting with the help of this checklist.
The more you shoot, the better your video shooting skills will be in
the days to come.

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