Tips for Making Home Movies That Look Great

Father video recording mother and daughter

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When you’re making home movies, it’s easy to just pick up your camcorder and press “record.” Sometimes, you’ll record unforgettable moments, and end up making ​home movies that will be treasured forever. Other times, pressing "record" haphazardly means pressing your luck. Instead of making home movies your family can enjoy, you end up with lousy footage that’s not worth watching.

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Know Your Camcorder

Be sure to familiarize yourself with your camcorder before you begin recording for real. You'll want to get comfortable with the controls and the operation of the video camera.

You can prepare yourself by reading through the manual and shooting some practice footage around the house.

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Make a Plan

The first thing to do when making home movies is making a plan. You should have an idea of what you're going to be making a home movie about, what you want to videotape, and what you want the final movie to look like, more or less.

This isn't to say that you can't be spontaneous. Some of the best home movies come from unexpected events and activities. Even if you pull out your camcorder without a plan, you can create one while you shoot. Think about what interesting shots and b-roll you can capture, and, even spontaneously, you'll end up making a home movie that's more coherent and entertaining to watch.

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Lights

Plenty of light will make an incredible difference in the quality of the video footage that you shoot. Shooting outside will give you the best results, but if ​you're shooting inside, try to turn on as many lights as possible, and bring them close to your video subject.

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Sound

Video is a visual medium primarily, but don't forget that recorded sound plays an important part in making home movies. Always be conscious of the background sound, and try to control it as much as possible.

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Monitor

Don't​ just trust your camera to work best on its automatic settings. Check the audio with headphones, if possible, and check the video footage by looking through the eyepiece. The eyepiece gives you a better view than the flip-out screen because you won't be seeing any reflections or be influenced by external light.

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Hold the Shot

When shooting video footage, hold every shot for at least 10 seconds. This can seem like an eternity, but you'll thank yourself later when you're watching or editing the footage.

It may feel like you've got enough footage after recording for only 2 or 3 seconds, but those few seconds will fly by later. Remember, DV tape is inexpensive, so you don't need to be stingy.

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Look at the Details

Sometimes, you're so focused on your subject that you don't notice the surrounding elements of the scene. Only later, when you are reviewing the footage do you notice an unsightly trash can in the background or a tree sticking out of your subjects head.

Scan the video screen carefully before shooting to make sure there's nothing in the shot that you've overlooked. Begin in the center of the screen and work outwards in concentric circles looking closely at what is in each part of the screen.