Tech It Out Tips

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August 15, 2014
by Les

Video and Photography Composition Tips

All of us want to create visually interesting images, whether we’re drawing, painting, photographing, or capturing video.  There are some basic rules that apply to the framing of a shot and especially to images that include people.  You might find these tips interesting when recording your lectures for classes too!

From Nikon USA website

Composition is how you choose to frame the video you’re about to capture; and composition is just as important for video as it is for still photography.

Rule of Thirds
One of the most basic composition rules is the Rule of Thirds. When you look through at your subjects, using Live View on the LCD screen, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid over the scene. Notice where these lines intersect. The rule of thirds suggests that these intersection points are the ideal places to position your subject. Doing so will generally result in a pleasant and balanced composition. Try moving your camera so your subject appears where two of the lines meet. The subject doesn’t have to be directly on the intersection but somewhere close to it. Try a couple of different compositions to find the one you like best.

Establishing Shots, Medium Shots, Close-up Shots
When shooting video, you want to vary the types of shots for a more interesting feel. There are three types of shots that you’ll always see in videos and movies from big Hollywood productions to commercials and even wedding or occasion videos.

The Establishing shots are the wide shots. It allows the viewer to take in the entire scene and as an establishing shot is often the first shot in a scene.

Medium Shots can be of a subject (full length or cropped); or a medium shot can be a tighter shot of a scene, that doesn’t include all of the surroundings that a wide or establishing shot.

Close-up shots are tightly cropped shots showing fine detail. Close-up shots can be of a person’s face, an action occurring that is important to the storyline of your movie or simply a tightly cropped shot that shows details of an object.

Where to Crop or Frame a Shot of a Person
Similarly to still photography, you want to make sure when deciding where to crop for shots that show people, that you do it in a way that will make the final footage look pleasing to the eye. Cropping at major joints should be avoided.

For example, If you’re showing a person full length, you don’t want to accidentally crop them at the ankles. Likewise, for a medium shot, don’t crop a person at the knees. Frame your shot just above your subject’s knees. Lets go for a little bit tighter of a shot now, but don’t crop your subject at the wrist, as the viewer will be left wondering where their hands are. Lastly, when framing a tight close-up of a person, you can actually get away with cropping part of their head, so long as their eyes fall on the top line of your imaginary rule of thirds grid.

What is Headroom?
Headroom is the amount of space above your subject’s head in a frame. Too much space isn’t good, so make sure that you’re only leaving a small amount of airy space above your subject’s head.

August 15, 2014
by Les

Creating Better Videos

If you’ve ever tried to create a video by simply picking up a camera, hitting the record button, and using a stream of consciousness style to tell a story or relay information, you probably already know that’s not the right way to approach any production, whether professional or amateur, simple or complex.

Forethought and planning are critical to successful productions…yes, even to lecture captures.  Below are some tips from Nikon that might be helpful to all of us who create materials, from slideshows and powerpoint presentations, to full videos.

6 Tips for Shooting Better Videos

From Nikon USA website

Follow these six tips for a better movie making experience with your Nikon HDSLR:

1.  Pre-production planning.  A Hollywood movie never begins shooting without all aspects of the film being planned out in the pre-production stage. Take a tip from the pros and plan out the story you want to tell using video. It can be as simple as writing out a shot list (a list of shots you want to capture); a simple outline; the dialog you wish to capture; or it can be more formal, with a script and storyboard (illustrating your movie shot by shot). This way you can keep track of what you’ve shot and what is remaining. This lets you make sure that you don’t forget to capture any important footage when you make your video.

2.  Capture a variety of shots. Telling a story will be more interesting if you’re capturing a variety of shots. The best videos are made of short clips edited together. In the film world the wide angle shot is known as the Establishing Shot and it shows the overall scene. Medium shots often include one or more subjects. Close-up shots can be cropped at the head and shoulders like a portrait, or an extreme close-up of only a part of a person or subject.

3.  Break up the monotony by moving the camera’s position. Just like its good to vary the composition of your movie with wide, medium and close-up shots, its also good to move the camera’s position if possible. Don’t shoot everything at eye-level from a standing position. Look for creative angles, low to the ground or from a high vantage point. These will make your movie more interesting for your viewers.

4.  Pad your shots. This means shooting a little extra footage before your action begins and letting the camera record a little bit extra after the action ends. Doing so will make it easier for you to edit your movie together, because you’ve got extra frames to edit around.

5.  Limit your camera motion. Too many zooms (in and out) or pans (from side to side) can be distracting to the viewer; ruining an otherwise good story. Less is more in this case.

6.  Shoot lots of stills. Still images can be incorporated into your movie as part of multimedia storytelling.

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