2020 turned out to be different than anyone could have anticipated. The one silver lining that many of us could relate to was more time with family. Having the calendar cleared with less time in the office and on the road + less sports practices and playdates equaled the opportunity to slow down and savor the little things.
Yes, at times, the closeness felt a little too close, but for the most part, people have reported feeling a greater sense of gratitude for those around them. We played more games, dusted off and completed puzzles and snuggled up for a whole lot of Netflix. We also captured a lot of those moments on our phones. The social media app, Tik Tok saw a boom in family related fun filled with dance parties, cooking demos, humorous pranks and life hacks.
Before you gather the gang and get ready to shoot your next video, here are some tips from Documentary Film Producer, Ashley Bloom Kenny on how to make yours stand out.
Get Up Close & Personal
You probably haven’t heard this a lot in 2020, but just by getting closer to your subject you can greatly enhance the quality of your videos. If you want to shoot the kids playing games, get off your couch and get down on the floor and meet them at their eye level.
It’s very tempting to stay put and use zoom because your subject might look larger in the frame but you’ve lost valuable picture quality. While you might not be able to get up again, sitting or laying down with your subjects will provide for a more intimate video and also helps with sound quality. Don’t be afraid to have some of your subjects out of frame. Great videos aren’t about recording memories exactly as they are, they’re about telling a story of how that moment felt.
The Importance Of Sound
Sound is often underrated, but it shouldn’t be. We see video as a visual medium and consider the audio to be an afterthought. However, sound can actually change the look and feel of any video and we need to make it more of a priority. These days people are actually much more forgiving of poor picture quality if the audio is clear and crisp.
If a moment you want to capture is about to unfold, take five seconds to stop and listen to the room. If there is a dog barking or a loud heater you can shush, you just did something that had a tremendous impact on the quality of your video. And you might be the one who is making the most unnecessary noise with your play-by-play narration. Try to resist explaining what is taking place in the video and instead let the moment playout for itself.
Light It Up & Lock It Down
You don’t need to be a professional gaffer (a chief electrician on a movie set) to let lighting help you make your videos look better. If you remember to do just one thing, try to keep the brightest light in the room behind your camera.
Another thing that can be key is reducing shaky camera movements by simply propping up your phone. You won’t believe how much better your video looks if you just find a steady surface, like a table or a chair, and lean your phone up, so that it doesn’t appear shaky, which can be pretty distracting.
You or someone you know may suffer from vertical video syndrome. It inflicts nearly one in three adults. Vertical videos happen when you hold your phone vertically. Movie screens and computer screens have always been horizontal and that’s because your eyes are laid out horizontally, and after the holidays we will all be a little bit more horizontal, too. When you film videos with your phone vertically, you are missing out on capturing the full extent of the field of view. While vertical videos might look fine on your phone, they aren’t optimal on most screens and really only give you more foreground and sky. There is one simple thing you can do to fix this: turn your phone by 90 degrees. The ground is horizontal and therefore it’s easier to control the composition if the image is horizontal. Give it a try, it will “widen” your perspective.
Beware Of Love Handles
(No, not those love-handles.) In show biz, we call the footage on either side of the moment you’re trying to capture “handles” and it comes from the idea that it’s way easier to maneuver around great material with a little extra material on the ends. If need be, you can always shorten the clip on your phone or simple editing software, but it’s impossible to make it longer. So try to start filming even before the moment happens and feel free to let the camera run. You can always trim off the parts later, making your video shorter and easier to share with those who aren’t there to experience it with you.
Ashley Bloom Kenny
Founder and CEO at Heirloom Video Books & Former Head of Production at The Atlantic
Founder of a startup that mails videos in a physical books that automatically play when opened. Created an iPhone app that makes it easy to combine your videos and lets you preview the video on a simulated book so you can get it just right.