Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

In the era of YouTube, home videos are as popular as family photos. Even if all you have is a video camera on your phone or digital camera, you still can create good videos. However, a dedicated video camcorder, such as a Flip Camcorder is a much better option.

No matter which video camera you have, these 10 simple tips on how to record home videos and make home videos look professional.

#1: Plan Your Production

No matter what event you videotape, have a plan. Write down or make a mental list of shots you will want to include. For example, if you’re videotaping a birthday party, your list might include:

  1. Decoration of the cake
  2. Guests arriving at the party
  3. Guests being welcomed
  4. The presentation of the birthday cake
  5. Blowing out the candles and reactions from guests
  6. Cake cutting
  7. Shots of presents being opened
  8. Interviews of guests
  9. Entertainment and dancing
  10. Guests leaving

If there’s an agenda for the event, you can use it to prepare you shot list. The more you know about what is going to occur in the event, the easier it will be shoot your production.

#2: Use a Tripod

Whenever possible, make use of a tripod. I realize it’s a hassle to set up a tripod, but using one makes a big difference in your video production. If you’re not going to be moving around, hand-holding your camcorder, using a tripod will help you keep your shots steady and clean. There’s nothing more distracting than to view videos in which the camcorder is constantly shaking and moving in and out of focus. Using a tripod, you can easily pan your shots for smoother recording.

Opening Establishing Shot

Nearly all movies and scenes in them begin with what is called an establishing shot. It’s a shot of the location where the action is going to take place. In the case of the party, it might be a panning shot of the party setup, or an outdoor shot of where the house or place where the birthday party is being held.

Ads by Google

Shoot Close

Just as with photography, you should typically shoot close on your subjects. Fill the LCD monitor of your camcorder with the main subject being shot. The more background distractions you have in your shots, the less appealing it will be. Typically, there are four types of shots used in videography: wide, medium, close-up and extreme close-up. You can recognize these type of shots in well done movies you watch.

how to make home video look professional

Shoot Cutaway Shots

All good videos and movies use what is called cutaway shots. A cutaway shot is usually a related shot to the main action. For example, when shooting a birthday party, you will have a shot of the birthday girl blowing out her candles and cutting her cake. But you will also want to include cutaway shots of the guest singing the birthday song or clapping after the candles are blown out.

Another example: when the birthday girl is opening her presents, you might cutaway to a shot of the person from whom a presents was given.  Here’s a good how-to video that explains cutaways.

how to make home video look professional

Shoot Wide then Close

Similar to cutaway shots, you will want get in the habit of shooting medium to close range shots. For example, you start with a medium shot of the birthday girl opening her presents. Then you shoot in close on her hands as she opens the present, adding to the dramatic effect.

Change angles and positions

Get in the habit of shooting from different angles and positions. If you shoot every shot from the same position or angle, your viewers will easily get bored. You don’t need to change your position with every shot, but you also don’t want to be stuck in the same place for the entire recording.

Shoot to Edit

Whether or not you edit your movie after it is recorded, try to do what is called in-camera editing. For example, your camcorder may have a built-in fade-in and fade-out feature which means that each time you start and stop a recording, the shot will automatically fade in and fade out. That can help make for cleaner and more appealing shots.

If you don’t plan to do post-editing, you will want to keep in mind the timing of your shots. Before the event, determine how long you will want your video production to be. If you’re shooting a birthday party, your production might only be 15 to 30 minutes long, even though the party itself might be a couple of hours. Remember, Hollywood movies are typically no more than 90 minutes. Viewers will not want to watch a two-hour video of a birthday party. So plan your shots and make them purposeful. When capturing guest arrival shots, for example, each of your shots might be about 10 seconds long for recording each guest. Your camcorder should include a timer that you can monitor for the length of time of each shot.

Check Sound and Recording

Shooting video is not like shooting with a still camera. It’s quite easy to have your camcorder on and see action in the LCD screen, but that doesn’t mean you’re making a recording. Learn to recognize when your camcorder is actually recording and when it’s not. Also check the sound level. If your camera has a way to manually monitor and adjust the level of audio coming into the camera, be sure to constantly check that audio level to make sure it’s not too high or low. If possible, use a set of closed-headphones to monitor the audio levels coming into your camera.

how to record videos

Edit Your Production

Editing your video shots using what is called a nonlinear editor, such as Apple”˜s iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, or Adobe Premiere Elements, is simply the best way to make better video productions. The process is not as difficult as you think, but it does require extra time. With a movie editor, you can get rid of poor shots, tighten the editing; add smooth transitions, background music, and titles to make your production worth watching. There’s also a website called that allows you to edit movies online. I have not used Jacycut yet, so I can’t vouch for how good it is, but it is a free option you might give a try, especially for say five-minute videos. You could also take a look at other video editors MakeUseOf has covered in the past.

record videos

I will be sharing some more tips on video productions in future articles. If you have questions about this topic, be sure ask them in the comment section.

  1. Akira
    September 24, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    These tips really help me out when I was filming viral videos for my project. Since it makes my works look so professional, even though I just film some extra shots.

  2. Akira
    September 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    These tips really help me out when I was filming viral videos, it makes my work look so professional. Even though I just shoot some extra shots.

  3. Naveen
    August 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Bakari, useful information. I was planning for a short video play.. Naveen

  4. Paul Verizzo
    November 26, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I've been shooting 8mm, analog and digital since 1987, and recently 3CCD miniDV . Thought I'd look for some tips online, and I gotta say, you have nailed them. That I didn't learn anything speaks well of what you wrote!

    I would like to offer two thoughts under the "Use a tripod," heading. Most people have never heard of a monopod, yet it offers the stability of a tripod with a much easier to use, more flexible, stabilizer.

    Second, use a "handy cam" or some variant thereof. Lots of homebrew versions out there. Basic premise is that inertia is your friend.

    I would also suggest a Wide Angle lens adapter. The Sony cameras I'm familiar with, at the most wide angle, are at about 35mm focal length if they were 35 mm cameras. Barely qualifying as WA, and sometimes worthless in interior shots. One really needs to get to a 28mm focal length to be effective. Or, 35mm equivalent X a .7 WA adapter, and you are at 24.5 mm equivalent. Thousands of times more useful in the real world than 400X or whatever digital zoom.

    Guess I'm unleashed now. The iconic "Citizen Kane," and "Hotel Berlin" used a circular pan which anyone can do. Ground breaking back then. You do need to be aware of obstructions in your peripheral vision, and it's good to have a Handy Cam or other image stabilization on. The basic idea is that you just move in a circle around the point of interest.

    Anyway, great advice, hope I've been helpful.

  5. Akshay Khanna
    October 25, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    it was very usefull thanks a lot!

    • Riley Watkins
      October 27, 2015 at 1:32 am

      hi it did sooo ............................................... not HELPED

  6. Duke Net
    May 31, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Great advice thank you so much.

  7. Anthony
    May 18, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I'm 6 years late,just now read this and it was great editing information

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks, Anthony, for your feedback. Yep, though the technology has changed, the basics of video shooting are still pretty much the same.

  8. Dlatinsmile
    December 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    You helped me. Thank you for sharing your info. Nice of you to explain it so clearly. Way to go.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 19, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks, Dlatinsmile, it's great to know that this article is still useful after so many years.

  9. Bakari Chavanu
    December 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Sheel: “embed text or or hotlinks (same as youtube) in videos.”

    Mmm not sure about that one. I'll search around and see if what I find. If you find something, please let us know.

    Charles, good idea. I've had a Canon GL2 for years and use to shoot events off and on. I've clearly made a significant profit in using the camera. I'm just not sure though about stepping up HD yet. Thanks for adding me to your favorites.

  10. Sheel
    December 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Very informative article. Do you know by which application I can embed text or or hotlinks (same as youtube) in videos.

  11. Charles Rinehart
    December 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Excellent blog with great tips. I will be getting a camcorder this week, and will be doing videos to put on YouTube to promote my Florida travel blogs. Then after I'm better with shooting, editing, etc., I want to start doing videos for websites. I think this will be a great opportunity to make some real money with a service people need. Thanks again for all the advice. I'm adding you to my favorites. All the best.

  12. mgingerhack
    December 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

    This is really a nice information..specially about planning..
    i never thought about that

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *