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How to Shoot Video

A good fisherman knows what’s in his tackle box, and a good videographer knows his camcorder. Anything can happen at a moment’s notice; therefore, you should be able to adjust the shutter speed, turn off the autofocus, or do whatever else is necessary to capture the best images. In other words, learn your equipment inside and out. Read the manual twice. Know how to access the menus, which menus contain which settings, and so on. Keep a crib sheet handy if necessary (laminate a 3×5 card, hole-punch it, and attach it to the neck strap). A little bit of study and preparation can go a long way toward helping you shoot better video.

Anytime you go somewhere with your camcorder, here’s what you should be packing:

  • At least one spare battery, fully charged.

  • A lens-cleaning cloth. No matter how careful you are, the lens is going to get smudged..

  • A tripod. Throw it in the trunk, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

  • The battery charger/power supply.

  • An extension cord for the power supply, which you’ll invariably need.

  • Duct tape, for taping down the extension cord so people don’t trip over it.

  • Lighting gear, lens filters, microphones, and any other accessories you own.

Digital zoom should never be used, unless you’re looking for grainy, pixilated video.

The reason is: as you increase the zoom level, the recorder crops further and further into the center of the image, enlarging the cropped portion until the image fills the screen.

Stick with your recorder’s optical zoom (usually you can turn off digital zoom from within the camera’s menu system), which relies solely on the lens for magnification.