How to start shooting better videos

How long have you been shooting video? Are you struggling with your shot composition and framing? One of the common problems amateurs have is holding the camera still. Amateur video will often pan and zoom endlessly.

If you take your time and think about your shot before you start rolling, you’ll have much better results.

This quick recipe will give you a great formula for shooting better video.

You’ll need:
1) Tripod or a very steady hand
2) An understanding of the rule of thirds
3) To shoot sequences

Use a tripod. It may seem like a lot of trouble to set up a tripod, place the camera on it, and start rolling, but a tripod will be your best friend when you use it correctly.

There are two basic movements: Pan, (left to right, right to left) and Tilt (up to down, down to up). If you’re just learning don’t worry about pans or tilts though. Just focus on framing your shot, then tighten the pan and tilt locks so the shot stays still. Press record, and don’t touch the camera. Let it capture the scene for 10-20 seconds. Then, stop recording. Change your shot slightly by shooting a medium or close up, and repeat the process. If you don’t have a tripod, no worries, but you have to hold your camera as still as possible just as you would with a still camera.

Use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a photography composition rule that is used in videography as well. You basically use “thirds” in the frame as a ruler, and line your shot up accordingly. If you start using the rule of thirds immediately, your composition should instantly improve.

Shoot sequences. There are three basic shots: a wide shot (or long shot), a medium shot (waist up), and close up. Whenever you’re shooting action, shoot a variety of these shots. Start with a wide shot. Record 10-20 seconds of video without moving the camera, then move the camera closer and get a medium shot. Then you may want to zoom in (depending on your camera) and get a close up. If you’re recording someone performing a specific action, have them do it two or three times for the camera. During the first take, shoot it wide, then shoot the action again using a medium shot. Then shoot close ups of the specific action like the hands or whatever is being done. You can also try getting creative with the angles.

What challenges do you have when shooting? Let us know if these help.

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About Amani Channel

Amani Channel is a former news reporter, a vlogger, an award winning video producer, and an adjunct professor. He also helps organizations and companies create visual stories through VisualEyeMedia.

Follow Amani on Twitter and circle him on Google+


  1. I've been shooting myself for my blog (fitness related stuff). My challenge is having no help. I have my tripod and it works, but without help, it can't really get the close ups and angles I need without a lot of extra work and maneuvering. I still want to be awesome, though, so I intend to take as much time as needed to get best shots.

    • Amani Channel says:

      Great question Yum Yucky!

      It can be a challenge to self-shoot everything by yourself.  What kind of camera are you using, and what are you demonstrating?  If you're just doing a quick talking head vlog, you can probably get away with just a headshot, but if you are demonstrating something, or being creative, you'll need to record several takes of the action. One suggestion is to record several takes at different anges, so you'd record the first take  on a wide shot, then do it again, on a medium shot, then do it a third time with a close up on your hands if you're demonstrating.  Or just record specific parts of your video with the angle that you want to capture.  Do you have a loved one that you can recruit?  

      • Josie YumYucky says:

        Hey Amani. I'm okay on head shots. It's the fitness exercise demonstrations I have trouble with. But I did beg my husband for help yesterday (haha) and finally got a decent shot. I'm using a Flip cam, and I'm serving my husband notice that he bettah get used to being my assistant. 😉

        • Amani Channel says:

          Make sure he's using a tripod. I'd stay fairly wide for most of it, then re-shot or shoot additional footage with close ups of what you're demonstrating.  


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