Friday, December 10, 2010

Three Tips to Shoot Better Holiday Video’s

By Tom Sullivan, Video Guru and Penn Camera Partner
Bookmark and Share
Well it’s that time of year when our camcorders get a workout during the holiday season, but the reviews from the last year’s video still have the family critics judging your expertise. So, how can we improve our videos and turn them into award winning family moments. Easiest and quickest way is to add a few accessories to the old camcorder or add these accessories as stocking stuffers for the new camcorder being delivered by Santa this year. We have 3 accessories that are a most for all professional and should be a most for your video efforts. These items will help you get that professional look.

Item 1: One of the most important items you can add to make your videos look more professional is to use a tripod. Having steady video is the key to capture the attention of your viewer. The brain can only process so much information and when that information comes in small bites viewers can only concentrate on a few stimuli at a time. It’s a lot for a viewer to listen to the audio and try to relate it to the visuals on the screen. If the visual has the added issue of constantly moving, it disorients and confuses the viewer. There is a reason all movies and television show always use tripods or some type of stabilizing support. There are a few exceptions, but that for the pro’s to use in a specialized storytelling techniques. So get a tripod.

Item 2: The type of tripod head you use is critical to producing great video. There are two main types of tripod heads; still photography which is a mechanical action that is always locked into position. With video things move and you have to move with them. You can only do that with the second type on tripod head which is called a “Fluid Head”. As its name indicates this tripod head has a constant fluid motion making it easy to follow the action. If needed you can lockdown these tripod heads for non-movement situations. Again, all movies and television show use this type of tripod head to give you the best viewing experience. Penn carries combo tripod and fluid head for video.

Item 3: Audio is the element that pulls everything together. It is a documented fact that if people are watching the greatest looking visual video in the world, but the audio is indistinguishable they will turn off the video. If the video is visually terrible, but the audio is great, they will continue to watch. The built-in audio mic’s in today’s cameras are better then ever, but they pick-up to much ambient noise which can be very irritating. There are some great mic out that are excellent and very affordable. There are many different types of mic’s, and you need to select a mic that compliments the type of video you like to shoot. One of the best all around mic is called a “Shotgun Mic”; it captures a pinpoint area of sound based on where you point the mic. It still will pick-up a little ambient noise, but far less then the on-board mic’s in your camera. One of the best out there is called the “Rodie”, it has some great additional features. If you plan on recording the family history by interviewing your senior family members then you need a Lavaliere mic or Lapel mic. These can come in either a hard wired or a wireless configuration. I recommend using wireless. It is so cheap for wireless unites and they are easy to use and more importantly they are not tied to the camera allowing you to move freely with the camera.

Give these items a try to help improve your videos, and remember you can purchase all these items at Penn Camera. At Penn Camera not only get great pricing; you get great expertise after the sale.

Don’t forget that starting in January Penn camera will be providing several classes on video production, editing and more. Spielberg Lookout.


Tom Sullivan is a photography and videography professional with 25-plus years of experience in all aspects of video production on a local, regional and national level. His work includes video production for such clients as the Moscow Ballet, the National Parks Service, ESPN Sports, and PBS. Tom’s background in both still and video photography makes him an ideal instructor for bridging the knowledge gap between the still and motion fields. Visit his website for more information: