Six Basic Rules of Video Production

21.08.2014 17:48

I don’t know about you but we never have enough hours in the day.

And when you’re running around on the shoot the sands of time seem to fall particularly fast. And that’s not to mention the hour after hour spent stitching it all together post-shoot. But actually it’s relatively simple to shave a big chunk of time (and stress!) when you’re making your videos. Now, we can’t guarantee you a stress-free shoot: hurdles inevitably arise and you have to deal with them. But hopefully these tips will help you have some non-grey hair left at the end of the day…

1. Use the rule of thirds

Now, there are thousands (probably, we didn’t actually do the math) of ways you can compose a shot. As your experience grows you can experiment more and get some interesting results. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s worth understanding the rule of thirds and then you can decide whether you want to break it.

The theory goes that if you break an image down into thirds, the eye is naturally drawn to the intersection of each line. If you place points of interest there, rather than dead center, you’ll get a nice balanced shot.

Rule of Thirds

This is pretty much photography 101. And there’s a reason this rule is so ubiquitous – coz it works!

2. Tripod or no tripod?

Tripod. The end.

Ok I’ll explain a bit more.

Handheld can (sometimes) yield some good results. It depends what effect you’re trying to create. For something tense and nervy (think The Blair Witch project) it can work well. But all too often tense and nervy turns into motion sickness. Sure it can work well, but unless you’re pretty experienced it probably won’t.

Take a look at these examples of handheld vs tripod:



You can see that sticking your camera on a tripod just makes everything much cleaner and simpler.

If you don’t know what you’re doing don’t introduce an extra element to think about. You’re already juggling a million and one things during the shoot. Why make it harder for yourself? Keep it simple.


3. Pan & pull at your peril



This is kinda like the tripod vs handheld debate. Pan and pull can be effective. With emphasis on the “can”.

The problem is, used in haste you’ll mess your focus up. Instead cleanly cut each shot.



The difference is amazing. It keeps it snappy, keeps the pace up. You really are much better of keeping it simple. Believe me.

4. Give everything a tail

No, not that kind of tail. What I mean here is give yourself a few frames breathing room between each take. In the video below you’ll see there’s a few seconds space before and after the subject (in this case, me – hello!) talks. You don’t want, for instance, to cut too soon and miss a syllable of audio.

5. Clap to mark your audio

Ok so the next two tips are more about making your life easier in the edit, rather than the shoot. But it’s things you need to be doing while you’re on the shoot. So listen up :)

Let’s take a look at a video in the editing suite:

Matching up audio with visual in video

See the green bit? That’s the audio. What you need to do is match up the audio with the visual (unless you’re going for the badly dubbed effect). The camera itself will generally take a bit of audio (although the quality probably won’t be high enough for you to run with this version). So what you’re aiming to do here is match the audio from the external mic, with the audio taken from the camera mic (the bit in blue under the thumbnail).

This can be a bit of a painstaking process. But you can make it easier for yourself simply by clapping at the beginning of the take. This will give you a nice big peak and you can use this to match the two tracks up.

It’s the same thing a clapper board is used for. But free.

6. Mark a good take

Back to the editing suite. This is how a typical 60(ish) second video clip looks:

Video in editing suite

That’s a whole lotta thumbnails.

Let’s say you filmed 5 takes of one shot. And you know the third take was the one you want to use. You know it’ssomewhere in all those thumbnails, but where?

Rewind back to the day of your shoot. If you’d simply waved your hand in front of the lens after the good take, you’d now have a “bookmark” for where that take is.

There’s always more to learn

Bad day on shoot? We’ve all been there. It’s ok. It happens. But the important thing is to learn from what happened. That way each and every shoot you run should get smoother and smoother. These are just some of the way we’ve found to iron out the creases during our video production process – hope they help you out too!

In house video studio on a budget