Many video cameras (especially smart phones) are so compact and lightweight that they can be tossed around quickly and casually. That can result in very shaky motion pictures. Unintentional and rapid camera movement can contribute to a viewer feeling that the subject or the message being delivered on camera is casual and may not be too important or valid.
If you are interested in conveying a more serious and credible tone with your videos try using more stable shots.
Hold it close
There are many ways to stabilize a video camera. The first is to hold it close. Hold it close to your body; hold it close to the person you are filming with it. If it has a zoom lens, zoom out as wide a possible for the least amount of jitter. Zooming in magnifies everything including the movement of the camera.
Lean on something solid
Another simple way to stabilize a camera is to rest or lean it upon a static object, like a table, a chair, a ladder or a bookshelf. Use whatever is available; if it is stable that stability will transfer to the camera. Even a length of two by four will help. This method is only as good as the object you are using to support the camera.
Get a tripod
You can purchase any number of devices to support your camera. I prefer to use a tripod because it will allow you to set up a shot and let go of the camera which will eliminate all movement. Tripods have the added benefit of being quick and easy to set up and tear down. Many of them are lightweight, compact and rock solid when set up.
Pan and tilt
More sophisticated camera support devices allow you to not only lock down a very stable shot, they also make it possible to smoothly move the camera while recording to follow the action. A common feature of video tripods is a pan tilt head. This device mounts in between the camera and the tripod and allows you to move left to right (pan) and/or up and down (tilt). These common moves are best executed after rolling on a static (not moving) shot for a few seconds and then holding solid for another few seconds after your move.
Pick it up and move it
One other advantage of tripods (and many other lighter weight camera support devices) is that they add some weight to the camera so when you pick them up and move them the heaviness is tangible and it makes for smoother, more stable looking camera motion.
If you have to go handheld, hold it close, if you can lean on something, do it and a tripod is a really good option to have. Overly shaky shots might lead people to believe that your ideas are “iffy.”
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