Cameras The best camera for the job is hard to define. The price range of video cameras is wide, ranging from under $100 to $10,000 and beyond. Obviously an amateur videographer can rule out the really high end models, but the consideration should not be based entirely on cost. The ideal camera is a compromise based on size/weight, features, and price. One of the best methods of comparison is to study Amazon customer reviews to create a “short list,” then decide from there based on the type of work you will primarily engage upon. Remember, there is no one size fits all, particularly at the lower end. The upside is that many of the video effects that many people dote over are better introduced in post production. Non Linear Editors (NLEs) and their plug-ins are often better able to create special effects than cameras . . . and they are non- destructive!  
DIY Tips This page is devoted to helping amateur videographers get the best from their vision and investment. Tips, do’s and do not’s, suggestions, jargon, and a whole load of links to people and places that know stuff.
© 2014, 2016 by TeamCOLINDA, the audio-visual branch of White-Boucke Productions. All rights reserved.
Shooting Accessories There are accessories . . . and accessories. Some look cool but have very little practical value. Some appear handy but are rarely used, merely adding to the bulk you carry around with you. And some look wierd but really help to add that professional “look & feel” to your shoots. Here are some examples: Lens effect filters and hoods: Effects filters permanently corrupt the scene. Use a NLE in case the effect is really not what you had in mind. Lens hoods provide protection and help reduce/eliminate sun glare and flare. Tripods and other stabilizing gadgets: the lighter the camera, the more unstable the scene. When looking for a tripod, extend the legs in the store to check for rigidity. Never buy a tripod that wobbles fully extended. Fluid heads make for smoother panning shots. When using a mobile phone or similar device for shooting video, a tripod clamp can eliminate that hand-held wiggle that gives the source away.  External microphones: Nearly alway improve sound quality over a camera’s built-in mic.
SPARE BATTERIES . . . You can never have too many. A charger with a car adapter can save the day on location.
MINI TRIPOD & BRACKETRY . . . Fits in your pocket, to be deployed with your mobile phone for that awkward angle or selfie moment. Use in conjunction with a device bracket to avoid hand-held wiggle.
HIGHER END CAMERAS . . . provide features such as auto- and manual- focussing, aperture control and other settings. High quality recording and a plethora of connections. Usually shoulder carried, heavier and bulkier. Prices are generally from $1,200 up. 
MID RANGE CAMERAS . . . Generally of the point-and-shoot type with onboard data storage and limited editing capability. Autofocus lens and shutter. These cameras/camcorders provide all that most amateur videographers need to work with. They are keenly priced from $100-$900.
SMARTPHONES . . . are not only for selfies! Recording quality is on the rise, as is recording time. They may not be good enough to shoot a wedding, but they certainly will suffice for those priceless inpromtu family moments provided you can hold the thing still, the right way around, and keep your fingers away from the lens.
Shooting & Editing Tips Eliminate Camera Shake Camera shake or wobble is a highly visible condition that really degrades the quality of a scene, and stamps “amateur” all over your project, even more so than poor focussing and excessive zooming. A video camera/camcorder to be stable, it should be constrained in at least 2 axes (preferably all 3 axes). This is why larger cameras are often rested on a shoulder and supported by one or both hands. Smaller camcorders and mobile phones tend to be operated away from the body using one hand only, which means that the device is constrained in (at best) one axis only. The best way to eliminate camera shake is to use a robust tripod or support the camera on a solid object.  If these solutions are not an option, or if you need to walk around or pan the camera in more than one plane, then invest in one of the many pseudo “Steadicam” devices that are available in photography stores and online, including the simpler and more affordable lower-end offerings from the Steadicam company itself (gimmicky gadgets like selfie sticks won’t help much). This link is a pretty good place to start. For those who like a sniff of history when reading stuff like this, the Steadicam was invented by American cinematographer Garrett Brown in 1975, and Brown has contributed some of the most famous moving sequences in motion picture history using his invention: Danny racing through the corridors and the outdoor maze at the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Rocky Balboa’s jogging/training sequences (including racing up the stone steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum) in Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky.” Speeder-bike chase through the forest of Endor in George Lucas’ “Return of the Jedi.” As a last resort, most NLEs and their plug-ins include a means to reduce or eliminate camera shake from digital video by defining an area that should remain stationary in the recorded field of view and generating a series of “keyframes” to achieve this correction. Unfortunately, this frequently results in degraded video quality as the recording must be repeatedly moved in both major axes and enlarged in order to stabilize the image. Forget that Zoom Control Use the zoom control to establish the frame content before you shoot a scene. Don’t keep zooming in-and-out while shooting as you will likely make your audience vomit.  Zoom-in and -out during post production using your NLE, where you can better control the effect in a reversible way. Understand Industry Jargon This is not posing. You cannot learn and appreciate the skills of an art form unless you know what things are. This does not mean that you have to become a boring techno-nerd, but it does help to know what to search for in a help index or user’s guide. You’ll find out what “anamorphic” means (and where it is used) a lot faster by searching for “widescreen” rather than “oblong pictures”. A good internet resource for understanding technical terms and jargon is Shine a Light-or-Three If you regularly shoot video indoors, get some lighting. Low ambient lighting results in grainy images and lack of color and contrast. Basically put, indoor scenes look crappy. Ideally, use three lights per scene, arranged to give general illumination, background fill and subject highlighting. If you are on a tight budget, go for a 3-softbox bundle (you can remove the front diffuser on individual units for added effect) and a bright worklight from a DIY outlet. Outdoor lighting can be very tricky. Shooting into the sun is likely to be disasterous and may damage your camera, and shooting with your back to the sun may well result in human subjects squinting and hard shadows blocking faces. The three-light solution can be pretty effective outdoors but may not always be practicable. For a wide range of lighting options and ideas, visit Balance, Imagine and Improvise There are two kinds of videographer: The first is the “theory” guy who obsesses over lens settings, calculates every perfect parameter, sets white balance 3-4 times every take . . . and generally misses the action or includes his/her mirror or other glass reflection, or unwanted shadows due to numerical obsessing. The second is the “hot shot” who just wants to film, film, film. This guy generally captures good scenes from unusual camera angles, but produces a lot of unusable video due to lack of prep work and setup. So it is quite obvious that the path to steer is a compromise between the two extremes. Enough said about that. One of the most satisfying aspects of videography is finding solutions to shooting challenges. The novice will soon begin to imagine how he/she wants a shot to look for maximum effect. Amateurs (and few professionals) have the resources of Ridley Scott, so most ideals are at first unattainable. But with practice and perseverance, the keen and dedicated mind will find solutions that will get pretty close to the dream. The process is called improvisation, and it can be assisted by including a few household items in a box of bits to always bring to a shooting location. Here are some ideas to get you started: Lazy Susan: Place your camera in the center and rotate the platter to achieve smooth panning. Extension cords and power strips: Electrical outlets are always in the wrong place, and there are never enough of them. Background cloths: Pay a visit to Walmart for some fairly long cuts of plain-but-bright, inexpensive, heavy cloth (blue, red, green, white, black) and keep them rolled up in polythene. These are essential to achieve neutral, undistracted backgrounds, and can serve as makeshift chromakey aids. Don’t forget to throw-in some push pins and clips/clamps as well. Masking tape: On your next visit to the hardware store, pick up some rolls of different-color masking tape and a roll of duck (duct) tape. You will use them more than you could imagine. Here is a popular special effect that can be created using items from the videographer’s box of tricks: 1. Pose your human subject and erect a large green cloth 2-3 ft behind using the clamps, pins and/or adhesive tape. 2. Record the subject turning his/her head from side to side in bewilderment and adopting body movement that suggests instability. 3. Place the video camera on the Lazy Susan at a location where the landscape scenery can be observed through 360 deg. 4. Shoot video while rotating the Lazy Susan at a moderate speed. 5. In your NLE, knock-out (a.k.a. “key-out”, or simply “key”) the green cloth background using the program’s chromakey function. 6. Position the landscape video file behind the subject file on a separate track. The result, when played back will be a frightened, giddy, individual, desperately trying to keep balance while the world spins out-of-control around him/her. When setting up this kind of effect, it is crucial to vet the subject’s clothing beforehand and carefully choose the background location. Any key color in the subject’s wardrobe will be rendered invisible and the background will show through in the merged (or “composited”) scene.   A Good Editing Program is Worth . . . A good NLE is essential, but that doesn’t mean you must mortgage your family to go top-of-the-line  there are some good, intuitive, NLEs around at a fraction of the cost of the pack leaders (Apple’s “Final Cut Pro”, “Adobe Premiere”, etc.). Magix (a German media software publisher) has produced two impressive programs that run under Windows 7 thru 10: “Movie Edit Pro” and “Video Pro-X”, and the various flavors of “Sony Vegas also perform well. Avoid relying on Microsoft’s “Movie Maker” and Apple’s “iMovie” if you want your creativity to flourish.
MICROPHONE UPGRADE . . . If your camcorder has an external mic connector, get one and use it. Even the lowest grade external microphones render superior audio quality to most built- ins, and most come with a wind shield that can seriously reduce that terrible rushing noise that frequently accompanies outdoor use.
TRIPOD TECH . . . Like a fine racehorse, a good tripod has strong legs and fluid joints. Don’t be seduced by price and lightweight construction, these selling points generally mean you are buying an unstable platform that will not serve you well.
CAMERA LIGHT . . . This will never replace good ambient lighting or artificial external lights, but a camera- mounted light will help boost color and contrast in low light  conditions. Try to find a LED solution that uses the same type of rechargeable batteries as your camera.