Better Do-It-Yourself Videos

Want your online video to look more polished?   Using the right equipment is the place to start.  Get the best camera, lighting and audio you can afford.  You can find lots of discussion and advice online to guide you.

Once you're ready to shoot, here are some other tips:

Use a tripod.  Put your camera on "sticks," whenever possible.  Shaky video is hard to watch. Yes, sometimes handheld video is necessary, but if you look around the natural environment, you can usually find a way to steady yourself and the camera.   For example, you could lean against a door jam or street lamp or tree. You could prop the camera on a table or big rock or car hood.  Look for stationary objects like that. Even your breathing can make the shot heave in a handheld shot.  And the tighter you are zoomed in for a close-up, the more likely the slightest camera movement will look like an earthquake hit.

Don't pan and zoom constantly.  Pros hold their shots. They don't make camera moves without a specific purpose.  Really short shots and panning and zooming all over the place is the mark of an amateur.  Hold each shot 10 seconds. If you want to pan a scene, take the shot more than once, panning both from the right and the left. Hold for 10 seconds on each end.  Do the pan twice in each direction – a slow pan and a slightly faster one. You want choices when you sit down to edit. 

Wide-Medium-Tight Repeat.  You usually want to take a wide shot to set the scene, what's called an establishing shot, but medium and close up shots are more compelling visually.  Aim to take each shot 3 times – wide, medium and tight. Hold each shot 10 seconds. Be sure to "match" the angle and frame of the shots so they can be edited together smoothly.  

Transitions  If you don't want to do much editing, you can plan to end each shot the way
some wedding videographers do.  After each scene, hold the shot for a moment and then pan away to focus on
some atmospheric object like a candle, chandelier or flower.  When
you're editing, you can dissolve from that item to the next scene or for variety's sake with some scenes, cut the
shot before the pan begins and edit it to the next scene.  

Watch your backgrounds.  Pay attention to what's going on in the whole frame.  You don't want a distracting background or someone positioned in front of the camera in such way that they look like a tree is growing out of their head.

There are plenty of other subtle things to consider to put your best foot forward.  Today's technology makes taking good video easier that ever, but it's still the knowledge, care and skill of the person behind the camera that makes the difference.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Coach/Trainer at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Communication Coach, Media Trainer & Founder Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who helps rising and future business leaders communicate with courage and charisma on-camera, and off. Contact at

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