Don't Miss a Minute: 10 Tips for Improving Your Home Video Footage.

by Elisabeth Roberts

If you’re a parent with a video camera, you know the frustrations of trying to shoot good footage of your children. Your adorable three-year old decides to put on a show, so you get out your video camera out and start shooting, hoping to save this moment forever. But when you look back at the video, it’s lacking the beauty you remember. Maybe your child keeps running out of the shot, or it’s too shaky, or every time your child says something, all you hear is your own voice. Despite your most noble efforts, the memory has been lost.

While video cameras are a common site at playgrounds and ballet recitals, few people know how to use them properly to capture the joy and craziness of family life. When I worked as a broadcast television producer, one of the cardinal rules was never to shoot children or pets, because they are usually unpredictable. Now that I am a parent myself, and run a business that edits and produces family videos, I know how to use that unpredictability to my advantage!

After producing hundreds of family videos over the past four years, I have developed some surefire tips that will help you maximize your videotaping opportunities, whether you’re shooting for an audience of one or one million.

1) Get down to their level. When you shoot kids, try to get eye-level with them, whether on your knees, the floor, or a low chair. This proximity is less intimidating, and it allows you to get closer and to have greater interaction with the children.

2) Let the camera roll As we always said in television, “Tape is cheap,” so don’t be in a rush to turn off the video camera. When you feel you have captured the dance or giggle, let the camera roll for another minute or two. Some of the best moments happen unexpectedly, so if you have the camera on and focused on the subject, you’re more likely to get them on tape.

3) Don’t use a lot of movement Feel free to adjust your shot according to the action, but don’t zoom in out, or pan around too much. The subject should be providing the movement, not the camera. Try this: when you see something you want to videotape, pick up the camera and get a nice long shot of whatever is happening without any camera movement whatsoever. Then move in to adjust the shot and then let it roll for a while. This way you will have both a wideshot of the activity (something that shows all the action) and a close up.

4) Fill the frame This is a great tip for videotaping small babies. Some of the best video is where you can see the expressiveness in a baby’s face when she is playing peek-a-boo, or her determination in trying to get the spoon from the cereal to her mouth. Don’t be afraid to get really close and fill the frame with your baby’s face. It’s wonderful to be able to see every detail.