Step 1: Film Something, Anything! Step 2: Review

First things first, 90% of what you will be doing is controlled by a simple web camcorder. They are surprisingly high in quality, and very easy to operate. The majority of your use will entail the power button, starting to record, and stopping. I don’t mean to be condescending, it is just the truth. The magic is in deciding what to record and in editing. The filming itself is very straightforward.

So to begin, go play with your camcorder. I’m serious. Film something, so long as you are recording you are on the right track. The point is to go use the camcorder then sit-back and reflect on what you can do to record better next time. Why? Because you will not be an expert until you practice. No shortcuts here. So to help get you started right, we will walk you through the first practice recordings with this video tutorial.

After you have recorded a little test footage, you can go ahead and transfer it to your computer to take a peek at your first video dabblings. Beware, they will be shaky and nowhere near pro quality, but that is normal, and that is why we are here to help. So to learn how to get those video clips onto your computer for the first time, you can watch the following.

I mentioned that you will only use the most basic functions of your camcorder and you may want to raise your hand and ask about some of the other features. But resist the temptation, especially when it comes to zooming.

Zooming may seem like the perfect solution to get a little closer to your subject, but don’t do it. Although it achieves what you’d like (getting closer) the cost is far greater than you’d expect. Simple camcorders lose quality when zooming. So if you’d like a closer shot… get closer. Scientific, I know, but little tricks like this will greatly improve your end product. For additional clarity on this topic we made the following tutorial.

Whether zooming or moving closer there is a limit to how close you can get. This varies camera to camera but the rule of thumb is about a foot. So when looking to include the finer details of the inside of a toy robot, the painting you just finished, or those ants marching toward their hill keep the camera the minimum distance away to keep everything in focus and looking fantastic. To see examples of what we are describing, the following video is available for you to enjoy.

Next on the list is the most common culprit for footage being ruined. Light. It seems obvious, yet when you are filming it can be easy to overlook. Bright light, low light, and contrasting light are the three lighting situations you will encounter in real-world filming. Understanding what causes them and how to avoid them will save you time and frustration. So learn the basics and get ahead of the curve.

Last but not least, where is your audio coming from, what background noises are there, and how can you avoid them? This is so important because audio disruptions are a nightmare while editing. The built-in microphone on an inexpensive camcorder is amazing, but it can be overwhelmed by audio you do not want to record. These are evident in noisy rooms, on windy days, and when the person speaking is too far from the camera. So know your cameras limitations and record the best possible audio.

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