10 tips for making videos with DSLR cameras

Jumping right into videos can be a confusing process for even the most experienced photographers. DSLRs may have become popular for shooting pristine photographs, but these advanced devices can also create great videos for those that take the time to master this skill. Before ever pressing the record button, here is a look at 10 tips to keep in mind to take the best shots possible no matter your camera equipment and training.

1. Don’t Forget the Tripod
Depending on the lighting, shutter speed, and a number of other factors, some slight movements may be unnoticeable in still shots, but videos are much more unforgiving. One of the few pieces of camera equipment that you will absolutely need right from the beginning is a comfortable and light tripod to keeps shots steady and in focus.

2. Incorporate Your Photography Skills
While not all of your skills from still photography will be transferable to videos, there are some skills that will actually help you in the beginning. Some of the basics of getting a good shot such as an uncluttered background, clean horizontal lines, and breaking the shot into quadrants will create better videos.

3. Blend Filters and Shutter Speeds
Still photographers are used to a quick shutter speed freezing action, but in videos the shutter speeds must be perfected in order for each moment to blend together. A simple rule to follow is doubling the shutter speed when compared to the frame rate and using neutral-density filters to reduce the amount of light that is coming into the camera for each frame.

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4. Think About the Final Screen Ratio
For many years, the 4:3 ratio for TVs and displays was the norm, but this has all changed in recent year. When using digital cameras for video, you will need to continuously think about what the final ratio for the video will be. With most modern TVs and displays, 1920×1080 or 1280×720 HD resolutions will generally come out the best.

5. Experiment with Manual Focusing
One of the best features of a DSLR is the auto-focus, but the cinematic nature of videos may require some toying around with manual focusing. Everyone should take some time to mess around with the focus while shooting scenes at different distances to get an idea how they will affect the final shot.

6. Don’t Neglect Audio
Getting good audio is often one of the single most difficult parts of shooting videos with a DSLR. The microphones within the camera will generally only work in very controlled and quiet conditions. Attempting to get good sound in a noisy environments will require a mix of parabolic and lapel microphones.

7. Plan Out Your Storylines
Unless you are looking to shoot some basic video for family and friends, it is important to get an overall idea of the storyline. Instead of only a handful of images that will be used to tell a story, you will essentially need to be telling a story with the thousands of frames that you will be capturing per minute.

8. Test Your New Skills
Every time that an amateur filmaker feels as if they mastered a new skill they should find a new challenge for themselves. If you have recently gotten good indoor footage with an interview or at a range of only a few feet, try mastering your manual focusing or audio capturing outdoors.

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9. Keep Changing Angles
Most viewers never realize just how many angles are used in even a short video. Master filmmakers will often change angles multiple times a second in order to keep the audience focused. As soon as you consciously realize that the angle has been the same for some time, you will most likely need to edit the shot with more angles.

10. Don’t Forget Editing
Post-production work is just as difficult to master as getting the shots themselves, and anyone using second-rate editing programs will be putting themselves at a disadvantage. Begin with basic transitions, fades, and lighting changes and try to use a new editing feature with every single clip that you capture.

Just as with any other skill, practice makes perfect for shooting and editing videos. Those that take the time to find the leading equipment and use it correctly are going to position themselves for taking the best videos possible no matter if they are using a budget DSLR or top-of-the-line cameras.

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