Videography Tips for Aspiring Professionals

So, you’re a brand new videographer. You have little to no experience.
It’s hard to remember everything that you need to bring and everything you need to do for your assignments/projects. You’ll need a physical checklist (if you want to do your job well) until the list is engrained in your mind and it comes to you smoothly.

Packing Checklist

  1. Video camera – Check out my last post for the best Canon and Sony cameras!
  2. Camera batteries – Make sure they are charged.
  3. AC power supply
  4. Microphone batteries – Always bring extra.
  5. Microphones – For enhanced audio quality, use both lav and shotgun mics.
  6. Lens cap – To protect your lens while not in use … Don’t forget to take it off when you do start shooting.
  7. Cables
  8. Lens cleaning cloth – To clean your lens, of course.
  9. Headphones – To ensure that the audio being recorded is the audio you actually want to be recorded.
  10. Script – To keep your shots organized and to have a method for the madness.
  11. Tripod – To keep your shots steady and even.
  12. Memory card/Tape – Probably the worst and easiest thing to forget. There will be no way to record your creative shots, if you don’t bring one of these.

Shooting Checklist

  1. Battery power – Do you have enough battery to start the shoot? If not, charge it up!
  2. White balance – Stand in front of the camera with a white piece of paper, press down the white balance button.
  3. Sound check – Use your headphones! With the subject already mic’d up, listen to the subject say a few lines.
  4. Talent release – Make sure you have permission (preferably written) to own and display anything you produce for the assignment/project. You’ll need this for the people you shoot and the locations you shoot at.
  5. Lighting check – Make sure the lighting on set looks professional through your camera lens.
  6. Tape/card check – Make sure your tape/card is there and has enough room for the things you will shoot.
  7. Tripod – Make sure your tripod is locked into place, level, and tightened.
  8. Zoom in/Focus/Zoom out – To properly focus your camera, zoom in as close as you can on your subject, focus the camera, and then zoom back out.
  9. Compose image – Make sure the amount of head room you’re giving the subject is desirable and that you are zoomed in tight enough.
  10. Shoot!

The Seven Most Common Videographer Mistakes

  1. Headhunting – Placing every subject in the center of your frame.
    This seems like something that would be okay, but it’s often offsetting to the audience. Instead, place the subject slightly off-centered.
  2. Motor-zooming and firehosing – Overuse of on-screen zooms and overuse of panning.
    It’s easy to want to recompose a shot while shooting in order to see more (zoom out) or focus in on something (zoom in), but this is hard to do smoothly and even if it is done smoothly, it most likely won’t go over well with the audience. Same with panning. It disconnects the visual line and sometimes makes the audience feel nauseous.
  3. Rooting – Staying in one spot instead of looking for interesting angles.
    You don’t want to move, because you don’t want to miss anything or disrupt anything or you’re just comfortable in that spot.
  4. Upstanding – Shooting everything from standing eye-level.
  5. Snapshooting – Taping only two or three seconds per shot.
    Always tape for at least 10 seconds, if possible more. Even if you only plan on using two to three seconds of the footage, shoot more.

Check out the VideoMaker site for lots of tips, blogs, and news.


2 thoughts on “Videography Tips for Aspiring Professionals

  1. Wow Jamie! I feel like I learned so much. I really love the step-by-step instructions on how to shoot. Wish I had this in my internship because it was always hard to remember where to start when shooting. Thanks for this!


  2. Jamie,
    This was an amazing post! I’m literally debating printing this out and having it with me before I go to a shoot. As an aspiring videographer/filmmaker myself, this list is absolutely priceless. For me, I have learned the hard way several times when it comes to some of the shooting check list items… Like forgetting to white balance, or even worse… forgetting to check and make sure my external audio recorder is actually recording. We live and we learn haha! Thanks for the awesome list!


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