Simple Filming Techniques

This page is to help contributors who are filming themselves on camera make the most of their filming.

self filming

Getting Set up

  • Put yourself in a room that has enough space for you and the equipment
  • Have a listen to the sound in the room. Bare walls and laminate flooring can create a space that echoes, which is not ideal for capturing voice. There are many ways of reducing this, for example pulling curtains or placing rugs on the floor.
  • Make sure there’s at least 6ft between you and the camera, and you and the background. This helps to create a sense of space around you.
  • When choosing your background, try not to sit with the wall parallel with the camera. This can make the shot look very flat. Try and have the background at an angle so the shot has depth.
  • Try to have contrast between your face and the background. For example, if you have dark hair, try not to have a dark background as your hair and the background may merge together on camera. Go for a light background for contrast. This also applies for clothing. If you’re wearing a white shirt, don’t film against a white wall, as again, you won’t stand out.
  • Avoid wearing extreme black or white clothing as the camera lens will not pick up the details of your garments. Other designs to watch out for are closely chequered and small complex patterns, as they will appear extremely unclear and linear when rendered within the editing process. Alternatives are plain neutral colours such as grey or navy blue.
  • Don’t have any object with sharp straight lines behind you e.g. picture frames. A camera with auto focus works on straight lines. So it will be drawn to the picture frame and focus on that rather than your face.
  • Most modern cameras have a choice between HD and standard definition. Make sure your camera is set to the right definition.
  • Check the colour balance. Most cameras have an auto colour balance which does not always give the best picture. Try the difference presets to see which looks best.
  • Let people know you’re filming, put signs on the door of the room, to stop people walking in and disturbing you while you’re filming.

Lighting

  • Make sure there is enough light for the camera to capture a clear picture. Do a short test and review the footage.
  • Make sure that there isn’t a light source right in front of the camera e.g. a desk lamp behind you. It will bleach parts of the shot white, and make you look like a silhouette
  • If possible, get one light source at about 45 degrees to one side, and about 45 degrees above your head. This will then cast shadows on your face, which will give your face depth on camera. This is called the Key Light.
  • Don’t make the Key Light too bright, or you’ll start to look like you’re in a horror movie!

 

Sound

  • The human ear hears selectively, filtering out background noises. A camera microphone doesn’t. Before you start filming, look around and listen. Try and cancel any noises you can.
  • Fridges, florescent lighting and air conditioning units all make humming sounds. Avoid filming near them or where possible, turn them off.
  • Ideally use a separate lapel microphone that can be tucked under your shirt or jumper, then clipped to your collar. Remember to keep the lead hidden.

 

And Action

  • Leave a pause between hitting record and speaking. This allows the camera to get to ‘speed’ and also makes sure the editor has a few seconds of ‘handle’ i.e. you looking sat still to use in the edit.
  • Likewise, at the end, leave 10 seconds after you’ve finished before hitting the stop button.
  • Be sure to vary shot size in between takes. People need to get a feel of where you are, so start with the more of the room in vision. If you repeat takes, occasionally change shot sizes by 20% i.e. change the shot so the top half of your body can be see, or closer so just your head and tops of your shoulders can be seen. This makes it easier for the editor to choose between takes. However, don’t zoom or change the framing while filming, only between takes.

 

After the Shoot

  • Most cameras are now digital, but if shooting on tape, click the protective tab after filming to avoid the tape being recorded over.
  • Memory cards also have a protective tab which you can slide to stop the footage being deleted.
  • If filming on memory cards, save the files in a clearly labelled folder as back up.

 

Last but not least – Enjoy yourself!