20 Videography Tips Every Beginner Should Know

Making your videos more interesting and cinematic isn’t something anyone with a camera can do. Thankfully you have a handy list here to help you gain some insight into how to make that happen. Planning and practicing beforehand is very important, and will help give the people you work with a good impression of your professionalism. We will also discuss different uses of lighting, audio, camera stabilization, and editing techniques. By the end of this article, you will feel more confident in tackling new video production jobs and assignments, maybe even feel inspired to start a new project. So, let’s jump in and get started.

person setting up camera on gimbal for video

Preparing for the Shot

As mentioned before, planning and practicing how to get the shot will not only make your workflow smoother but, it will also avoid any potential fumbles in the field. There’s nothing worse than getting a new piece of equipment and struggling with it while on assignment, or worse, damaging it beyond repair. Maintenance of your equipment is part of preparing for the project as well. If your camera is filled with dust and debris, it’s not ready for your next project. 

1. Research gear

This is more for the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomers to media arts, but, the information is relevant for anyone who can make use of it. Research the type of equipment you are going to buy. You want to do this because when you’re paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars for your gear, you are kind of pigeonholing yourself into a particular brand ecosystem based on your purchases. 

2. Know your gear

If you’re out in the field with the equipment you’re unfamiliar with, it will probably take you a lot longer to set up than you would like, and with your team standing by while you get your gear sorted out, you coil be wasting precious daylight, missing the action, or giving a less than stellar first impression. Sometimes you can probably even get away with these things. However, don’t make a habit of it. 

3. Take care of your gear

Investing in your gear is important, and taking care of that gear is an equally important investment. Cleaning your gear regularly is like getting an oil change on your car, it will help prolong the life of your camera and other equipment. Be especially careful while cleaning inside your camera. The electronics in there are delicate, namely, the image sensor. When in doubt, send it in under your warranty or get a pro to clean your gear.  

4. Invest in your gear

There are many tools to help you get the results you want. There’s the lav microphone or the shotgun mic, the tripod or monopod, the gimbal or the steady cam, lighting, and many many more infinitely complex variables to consider. The specialized tools mentioned help with many of these things, but, one specialized tool after another adds up, even if it’s only five bucks a piece. So, plan to invest in your equipment in whatever way suits your situation best. 

5. Getting inspiration

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, however, the inspiration I’m talking about here is the inspiration you get from consuming media. That coil be this article, a film you like, or maybe a podcast or YouTube video about videography techniques. While random moments of inspiration are fantastic, consuming media helps to inspire and influence your stylistic choices. 

Quality Over Quantity

While there will probably be situations in your burgeoning career in videography that call for large quantities of content, the quality of your craft is arguably just as important, if not more so. Quality is what will help convince people to pay you for what you do because you can do something to a quality they simply cannot. Why not stand out from the crowd with a better-quality product?

6. Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important things to consider when you’ve got the camera rolling. Are you using natural sunlight or studio lighting, or maybe even a mix of both? Will it be shot inside or outside? These are some questions you will want to consider. Moreover, these types of decisions will influence the planning process outlined earlier. 

7. Stabilization

Whether it’s with a gimbal, a tripod, or a sturdy rock, the most important thing is that your camera is stabilized for the shot. The wind could blow over your camera and suddenly make your day at the office a very expensive one. So, have sandbags available, make sure everything is secure properly and snugly, and try to create a wind or weather screen if necessary depending on your conditions. 

8. Audio Quality

Audio quality is about more than just the equipment you use to record the audio, it’s also about making sure the microphone is properly calibrated for the circumstance. Ensure your audio levels aren’t peaking higher than minus six, otherwise, the audio quality will start to degrade. Sometimes the automatic mode will work for you, sometimes it won’t. As always, practice with your equipment!

9. Video Quality

Much like, audio quality, video quality isn’t just about the gear you use to record. While cameras are getting more and more complex as the days go by, even if it does correct your white balance and adjust the levels for the lighting in the camera, the camera can really only do so much. Most videographers will supplement with other equipment to get the shot they want. That could be a variable neutral density filter, some lighting equipment, and stuff like that. 

10. Production Quality

Production quality like the other previously mentioned points on quality will steer the content you create into increasingly more sophisticated and alluring types of videography. So, don’t be lazy. Get the shot you want, the shot you need, and the shot you’re unsure whether or not it will work. Doing so gives you the resources you need, and even some you probably don’t. Essentially, don’t skimp on the b-roll, mix up your perspectives from close-ups to wide angles,  as well as take high and low camera positioning relative to your subject. It will help keep your viewer interested and give you plenty of flexibility during production. 

11. When enough is enough

This last point on quality is about knowing when to abandon ship so to speak. If there comes a time when you are spending countless hours trying to fix something with little progress, consider leaving it out entirely. You only want to show your best work because it gives the best impression. So, it’s better to leave out a bad scene than ruin your project to meet the quantity you’re after. It can be tricky, but, you’ll get the hang of it with experience. 

Style and Accessibility

This last section is about the style choices and accessibility options available for the content you create. Style choices include editing and production techniques to influence the audience’s emotions in some way or another. It’s what draws people into your content. Additionally, accessibility grants access to a wider audience. This could be as simple as adding subtitles to your work or something more complicated like avoiding tones and shades that are difficult for color-blind people to discern from other colors.

12. Captions

Captions are a great way to make your content accessible for the hearing impaired, or anyone else who doesn’t want to listen to the audio. Moreover, it helps other people to better understand the audio for easier comprehension. Consider adding captions or having a version of your project with captions.

13. Colors and color blindness

Red-Green color blind is by far the most common type of color blindness. So, avoid shades of red or green that are faintly colored, especially if you’re doing that with any text on your set. There are tools out there online for you to guide your journey on accessibility. 

14. Strobe effects, flashing lights, and seizures

Rapidly flickering lights can be difficult or just plain annoying for some people to watch. But, for others, it’s the difference between an epileptic episode and enjoying a video. If you do choose to have flashing lights in your project, put a seizure warning for anyone viewing who might be prone to epileptic seizures. 

15. Audio accessibility

Even with good audio quality, there will sometimes be significant jumps in the audio input. If anyone is watching your video with headphones in and the audio suddenly spikes really high, it coil put them off your video together, or worse, give them hearing damage. So, carefully review your levels even if they are mostly where you want them to be. 

16. ASL

Like subtitles, ASL will open up your content to new audiences, namely, deaf people. While this will depend on your production budget, it’s good to plan whether or not you will incorporate ASL into your media. This will likely involve hiring an ASL interpreter. 

17. Audio descriptions

Like ASL, audio descriptions will make your content more accessible. This aids those who have difficulty in discerning visual information like blind people or people who are otherwise visually impaired. Again, this will likely involve you hiring someone to do a voiceover describing what is happening from scene to scene, and an entire additional planning process. 

18. Transcriptions

Transcriptions help make the production process more efficient and accessible by correlating audio and/ or video information at specific points of the media time stamped into a sort of script. While fictional films will probably already have a script, non-fictional media like video journalism is more of a free-form recording of a conversation that 

19. Practice

Like any skill, videography takes practice. Very few people are talented and lucky enough to be great at something the second they start doing it. So, be patient with yourself and stick to the plan. Everyone wants to finish the race before they start. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint anyway. You don’t need to be the first one across the finish line, just getting there is good enough for most people. Having a beginner’s mindset like this will help you to roll with the punches and avoid burnout. 

20. Have fun

While there is absolutely no shortage of planning, preparation, and work to produce the video content of your dreams, it’s important to remind yourself to have fun with whatever you are working on as much as possible. If you feel frustrated, burnt out, or bitter about a project that you’re working on, chances are it might translate into your project. If you feel that way, it’s probably best to take some time away from the project until you feel better about completing the work, rather than sending in something half-baked.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea about all of the moving parts behind making an audio-video project come to life. If you haven’t already (and maybe even giving it a second glance if you already have) check out the Format portfolio builder! It’s an easy and effective way to display your best work, the work that you’ve worked so hard on. Since you are spending countless hours reviewing footage and articles to make sure your skills are up to date and you are using the best practices, it would be a waste of your time and expertise to not show it to the world, and Format’s portfolio builder can surely help you achieve that goal. 

Ready to Get Started?

Let your videography shine with a unique online portfolio website.

Start Your Free Trial