How to not make common mistakes when shooting video

Filming at the 6 Billion Ways conference

I work a lot with charities producing campaigning videos, filming publicity stunts and training people to make short videos. I also watch a lot of videos made by NGOs, charities and others and see the same mistakes repeated again and again. This list is a few quick tips that will improve the quality of your videos without much effort.

  1. Background noise – computers, air conditioners, phones, doors etc
  2. Busy backgrounds – people wandering around, milling about, having conversations. Backgrounds should never hold or take your attention.
  3. Boring backgrounds – no one wants to look at a plain white wall. Step 2-3 feet away from your background and if you are interviewing stand at an angle. Also be careful of windows as the light is a different colour so can mess up the white balance.
  4. Lighting. If it is too dark, find somewhere else and remember to white balance.
  5. Interviewees should look at the interviewer, not into the camera. Only look directly into the camera if you are addressing the person watching, like a presenter.
  6. Film b-roll. Extra footage that you can use to set the scene, hide edit points and illustrate comments made in interviews.
  7. Ask people to say their name and caption on camera. You don’t have to use this in the edit but it saves fumbling around for a pen.
  8. Prepare your questions beforehand but be prepared to respond with followup questions specific to that person.
  9. Long corridors made from painted brick, stairwells and large halls echo. Find somewhere else.
  10. If at all possible use an off-camera mic.
  11.  And, because this top 10 list goes to 11, don’t film too much. Prepare a list beforehand and stick to it as much as possible. It can be tempting to film the whole of someone’s speech or talk so you don’t miss a good bit but logging and editing hours and hours of talks afterward is not fun and so probably won’t happen.

One comment

  1. Nice meeting you in London. I took video of difficult return journey to Belfast: train/ferry/buses and the people I met.

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