Many digital video enthusiasts I know have trouble with making indoor home videos. Indoor home videos can be challenging for a number of reasons - the primary ones being low light conditions and the need to capture action shots.
In this article, I'll give you seven tips on how to make better indoor home videos. Once you read these, you'll have a much better idea of what goes into shooting subjects indoors.
The first tip I always tell my friends is this - understand and know your camcorder. The trick to shooting good videos - indoors or outdoors - is to develop an intricate understanding of your camcorder's functionalities.
Where the manual switches are, what the various scene modes are, how to attach an external microphone and so forth. One of the best ways to know your camcorder better is to simply invest an afternoon to read the manual.
Take time to understand your camcorder well
Then, for each of the camcorder functions, try it out - go outside and practise shooting. Get familiar with flicking the controls with your fingers so you can reach functionalities in an instant, instead of fumbling up and down.
The second tip for making indoor home videos is to have a plan. This is especially important if you're shooting an event like a wedding or birthday party indoors. What I usually like to do is to make a shot list - a collation of all the important shots I want to capture.
This helps to remind me to go after those shots during the event. The other important thing is to imagine the final video in your head - if you can picture it, you can shoot it. With a plan, you can also concentrate on get proper shots and setting out equipment (e.g. lights) where you need them.
One of the main challenges in indoor videography is the lack of light. How do you shoot videos in low light? There are some methods to do it. One trick is to open up the windows and let light in. If you have a light source, make use of it!
Another way is to bring in the heavy duty lights which you can purchase from camera stores. Position them carefully just before you shoot the videos for the best effect. Some of these lights can be attached to your video camera, as shown below.
The Litepanels Micro lighting attachment
In addition, you should learn about your subject. Knowing under what lighting conditions your subjects look best is important.
Before the event, go around and try shooting some test videos to make sure your subjects come out properly.
Another challenge in indoor videos (and outdoor videos) for that matter - is ambient noise. If you're shooting video inside the house, you may get things like fan noise, TV noise, or the noise of children running and screaming.
It's difficult to filter these out sometimes. Make sure you invest in a good microphone (e.g. a zoom mic) to isolate your subject's audio and cut out ambient noise. You can also use clip-on microphones if you're conducting an interview in the house.
Many beginner videographers make the mistake of fearing the manual controls. My advice is to use the manual controls as much as possible. To make good indoor home movies, make sure you're familiar with your camcorder's manual controls - how to zoom, focus and adjust dials for the best video settings.
Use your camcorder's manual controls if needed
If you understand the scene modes (night, low light, sepia, etc), you can also apply them where it makes sense. It's important to keep checking your video footage in the LCD preview screens to make sure the video is turning out right with your current settings.
One tip that a Singaporean film maker told me in the past - which I remember till this day - is to hold every shot. In fact, hold it for at least 10 seconds. To make a good indoor home video, it's no different - stay with your shot and don't move for 10 seconds at least.
The problem for many beginners is that they keep zooming in and out, or move the camera about. The end result is that the video that comes out is shaky and disorientating for the viewer. Avoid doing that!
Indoor home videos are good opportunities for you to capture details. What do I mean? You should go around the house and check the surrounding elements of the scene. Perhaps there's a piano, flower pot, TV or some old photographs that add meaning to a video clip. Rope them into your shots.
In fact, try to check that they turn out properly before you do your actual shooting. Looking out for details like this often produces interesting perspectives you did not see previously.
Making an indoor video need not be difficult. What you do have to remember is to apply some basic tips (particularly around lighting and manual video camcorder settings) so as to capture the best shots.
Apply the above tips and soon you'll see your indoor videos start to look fabulous!