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10 Tips to DIY Video

While I would love to work with everyone interested in creating a video, there are many ways that you can get into the video game on your own. Here are some basic rules and no/low cost options to get you started!

1. Use your cell phone and hold it horizontally. That will remove the telltale cellphone look and will help with your framing.

2. Use your camera framing to create the emotional connection you want your audience to have.

Mix and match for maximum story impact.

  • Wide shot – demonstration, comparison, achievement (climbing a mountain, etc.)

  • Medium shot – conversational, approachable, typical interview style

  • Close up shot – deeper emotional connection, used to really convey thoughts/feelings

  • Zoom with your feet! Set up your subject and walk your camera to the point where your framing looks the best.

  • Watch your background. Make sure that there isn’t too much clutter or any thing else to draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject.

3. Camera placement affects how your audience will view your subject.

  • Eye level with the subject is most natural and neutral and commonly used

  • Hero shot – camera is pointed up at the subject

  • Villain shot – camera is pointed down at the subject (avoid this, if possible)

4. Rule of thirds. Think of a tic-tac-toe board across your camera.

  • Keep subject’s eyes on the top third line to avoid too much headroom.

  • Keep subject to the left or right of center for a more natural (less mug shot) look.

  • Be sure to keep your lead space to the direction the subject is looking.

5. Audio. Consider using a secondary audio source to ensure clean sound, especially if the camera is far way from the subject. Lavalier microphone adapters for smartphones could be an interesting option to explore.

  • Lots of options at different price points. Zoom, Sony, Tascam, Rode, Marantz are all respected names.

  • Be aware of background noise – traffic, lawn mowers, A/C units – and try to minimize what you can during your video.

6. Tripods. Use one to ensure a professional look. If you don’t want to use a tripod, stacking books or creating a firm surface at your subject’s eye level works, too. Get creative!

7. Lighting. Make sure your subject is the brightest thing in your frame. Filming with natural light is great. Put your subject perpendicular to a bright window, not in front of it.

8. Buddy up for a dual camera shoot. Call a friend and use two cameras in two different positions and framing – one close up shot, one medium shot – to efficiently capture your topic and then edit together for maximum impact.

9. Use your local cable access station. For a low membership fee, you can get access to equipment and personnel to help with your video efforts.

(To find one near you, visit:

10. Start small and have fun! A 20 – 30 second video is a great way to start building connection with your audience. You have a great story to share, so take a leap and go!

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