6 Tips for Shooting a Video for the Non-Professional Videographer

Friday the 13th was an unusual-but-fun day; after a few months of coordinating, we filmed a yoga breathing exercise video for patients. I plan to share the final film once it’s edited and finalized, but in the meantime I thought I’d share some tips based on my experiences making videos, as someone who is not a professional.

  1. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Filming takes time, resources and people. Figure out how much time you can dedicate to your project. A 20 minute video with a high production value and a variety of shots can take several hours to film and twice as long to edit. If you don’t have much time, adjust your expectations. Figure out what resources you can tap into and who can help you. If you don’t have much help, adjust your expectations.
  2. Plan, plan, plan. Like any other project, investing the time to plan out your video before you start filming will ensure the finished product is what you wanted. The ultimate plan for a video shoot is a shot-for-shot story board, but you don’t need to go into that much detail. At the very least, think about what angles/shots you will need to get in order to make the final product make sense to your viewers, but also think about how you can film to minimize set up. Setting up each location takes a long time; moving clips around during editing takes minutes.
  3. Write a script… Even if your project is short or informal, writing a script will help you stay focused on the day of the shoot and help ensure that your video makes sense when it’s all put together. Do yourself a favour and finish the script in advance so you have time to revise, rehearse and review before filming begins. Finishing the script on your way to the set isn’t going to help you much.
  4. … and stick to it. Great ideas always come up during filming day, but I would caution against going after them. Because you haven’t had as much time to think it through, adding new content to your video while filming often causes a big headache. Even if your talent is an expert on the subject matter, ad libbing can result in redundancies in content, incomplete sentences, awkward transitions, or jumbled up words. People regularly make these mistakes in normal conversation without consequence, but they become distracting when they’re on film. Also, if you need to take multiple takes it will be next to impossible to say the same thing twice. You’ve just made your editor’s job a nightmare.
  5. Use talent that take the project seriously. You probably don’t need to hire professionals, but you do need to find actors/talent who are dedicated to the project and comfortable speaking on camera. Why? It takes a great deal of patience, endurance and focus to be “on” for the camera. If your talent doesn’t take their responsibility seriously, it’ll show.
  6. Put the most experienced person you can find/afford behind the camera. You may not be able to hire a professional, but you can still get a decent looking video by having someone with some experience, professional or otherwise, standing behind the camera. You need someone who can direct the actors, dress the set, frame the shots, and make sure all the needed footage is recorded. It’s a lot to think about and a lot easier to do if you’ve done it before.
After seven work-related video shoots, I’ve found that following these 6 tips makes the difference between suffering through a loooooong, drawn out process of wasting time versus getting things done with everyone’s sanity in tact. Got a tip to add? Share it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “6 Tips for Shooting a Video for the Non-Professional Videographer

    • Great point! Renting a lavalier mic (if you don’t have access to one you can use for free) will go a long way to boost the quality of your production. Though you can capture sound with your camera, the camera mic will pick up ALL the sounds in the room. A microphone makes it easier to target the exact sounds you want to capture.

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