The 3 Basics of Capturing Good Looking Video

There are 3 simple steps to take if you want your video to go from an amateur level to a more professional look. They’re very easy and don’t take long to set-up before you press the record button. I am talking about:

Exposure

White Balance

Focus

If you know how to manually control these three things then you are on the right track to creating better looking videos. Exposure refers to the amount of light being let into the lens, white balance is a way to achieve the correct colour in different lighting situations, and focus is whether your subject looks clear and not all fuzzy.

Overexposed - The stones begin to lose their cracks and melt together

So when adjusting the exposure you’re basically controlling how bright or dark the subject is. You don’t want the subject to be underexposed, too dark, because then the viewer won’t be able to see them. You also don’t want the subject to be overexposed because it will become very bright and start to lose definition and turn into a blank slate. The rule of thumb when setting exposure is that if you’re unsure whether it is correct then it is best to be underexposed than overexposed. A video that is underexposed can be saved in post production but one that is overexposed probably is a gone’r. Most Professional cameras come with a setting called zebra patterns. These create little zebra like patterns on areas that the camera has deemed bright. When setting the exposure for a person the best thing to do is set the exposure so only a little bit of zebra patterns appear under the eyes and on the forehead. Voila now you got one thing on to then next.

White Balance Fail - Photo is looking a little blue

White Balance is another important thing to remember when you make a video. Not all lighting is the same, sometimes you can film under a bright sun, in the shade, or inside under house lights. No matter where you find yourself, make sure to set the white balance otherwise your video could turn out looking blue or orange. I won’t lie, I have made the white balance mistake and ruined some photos from my trip to Jordan. The best way to correct it is take a blank white piece of paper hold it up towards the camera where your subject will be and press the white balance button. Now the colours on the EVF and LCD should be closer to what we can see through our own eyes. Some cameras, Pictures ones, might only come with presets for different lighting situations which can work as well. Now that the white balance is set there is one more thing to remember.

Make sure that your subject is in focus and not a blurry ball, unless they asked you to not show their face in the video then it could work. This one should seem obvious, but sometimes we don’t realize that the focus has actually been set for something other than your subject. In my current class about operating ENG cameras I have noticed that people are setting their focus at a wide angle, but when they zoom in to their subject they’re out of focus. When this happens it can make the subject a bit fuzzy and this can make your viewers uncomfortable having to look at something that can be hard on the eyes. The best way to achieve a sharp focus is to set-up your camera where you plan on filming from, zoom in all the way on your subject and twist the focus ring until you have got a crystal clear image. When focusing on people it is best to zoom in on the eyes and focus on that part of the face because when the viewer is watching they’re probably looking at the subjects eyes. Unless the subject is a famous actress and the viewer is male then you might want to get better focus on another body part.

There you have it three very basic steps to getting a better looking video or even photo. My piece of advice is to take your time and get these settings right before you hit record. However if you do hit record and something was wrong then the best part is you can always stop and do it again. Unless it was your child walking for the first time then you’re out of luck and might want to practice beforehand. Before I end this I have one last very important piece of information that ties together with exposure, white balance, and focus. If the camera is picked up and moved to another place then there is a good chance that all three functions will have to be re-adjusted. If the lighting doesn’t change much from the prior spot then you probably don’t need to white balance, but exposure and focus should be adjusted.

Have a look at this short little video of the three problems you want to avoid when making a video.