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Video 101: Shooting Basics

Average Joe dreams of becoming a famous YouTube star, but is confused how to make compelling video that looks and sounds professional.

He is at home with his friends and they plan to shoot video on their phone.

First things first, Average Joe has done his homework and knows that both what we hear and what we see is equally as important, and above all, Average Joe understands shooting quality video is a skill that takes lots of practice and time to develop into movie magic.

Video 101: Shooting Basics

Batteries and memory

Go in prepared. There’s nothing like seeing a great moment you want to capture, getting your camera all set up, and then not being able to capture it because you either ran out of battery or memory space.

Lens cloth

A clean lens is a happy lens, so don’t let smudges ruin your shooting magic.


Zooms are great for getting a close view from far away or you can reveal a wider area by zooming out.


Rotating the camera laterally (left and right) while shooting is called a pan.


Rotating the camera vertically (up and down) while shooting is called a tilt.


Seeing is believing. Your audience wants to see clearly what is on screen, anything less is distracting. When shooting outside during the day your primary light source is the sun. Your subject will look better if they face your primary light source instead of having the source behind them or the subject will appear really dark (backlit). To fill in any harsh shadows you might have from the primary light source, you can use a white or reflective material to bounce your light and fill in those shadows. You can setup lights inside a studio or room.


Plan your shoot. Think about the shots you’d like to include and then think about what’s the best way to capture them. With practice, you’ll develop a better eye for planning out the shots you want in your video.

Hold on your subject

Let your subjects give your videos life. It can be hard to tell when exactly you should press that record button, if you’re just starting out though, try holding the camera steady for five seconds before you move it again.

Movement in and out of frame

Instead of following every little movement you’re trying to capture, hold the camera still. Allowing your subjects to move around within the frame and occasionally going out of it can be really helpful for giving a better sense of their motion.

Reduce camera movement

The steadier your shot the more you can focus on the imagery and prevent nausea, it’s a win-win scenario. Try using a tripod or an available surface to rest the camera on while you record.


Pretend your screen has evenly spaced lines running throughout it, two horizontally and two vertically. The points where the lines intersect are where you want to have your subject. This is called the rule of thirds.

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