In an era when 12-year-old kids are shooting videos and putting them on YouTube, it behooves anyone with a camera, iPhone or other recording device to know how to make a short video.
Roger Sherman is here to help.
Sherman is a producer, director, cinematographer, still photographer and author whose films have won an Emmy, a Peabody and two Academy Award nominations. His new book is the "Pocket Posh Guide to Great Home Videos: Ready, Steady, Shoot."
Most people, he says, don't take the time to do it right. So the results are often poor.
"Shooting is so easy," he said. "It only takes a few things to make it look great."
Here are some of Sherman's tips. You'll find more at www.readysteadyshoot.com).
Get oriented. A common mistake, Sherman says, is that people pull their phones out and shoot vertically. "By doing that you've lost two-thirds of the television frame."
Start right. The first shot is the most important, so plan it.
"Even if it's 10 seconds of planning. You don't have to sit down and write a script. ... Usually, it's a wide shot to show overall view. You always should have an establishing shot."
Hold steady. Learn to hold the camera still. Our eye is so much more sophisticated than a camera that we don't notice slight movement while we're walking and the subject isn't moving. But on camera, "it will bounce around and the audience will get seasick."
Avoid panning problems. Panning is moving the camera back and forth; tilting is moving it up and down. Sherman discourages both.
"I see people filming in Central Park, and they're focused on something, then it's, 'Oh, that looks nice' -- wang! -- and they jerk the camera to the left. 'Oh, over there' -- wang! -- they jerk to the right. If you're going to move the camera, decide in advance where you're moving the camera from and to. If you're panning, go toward the energy, toward the action."
Vary shots. Employ wide shots that show the entire scene, medium shots a little closer, then close-ups, such as for a face. When you're lining up a shot, figure out which works best. The solution might be as easy as simply moving 10 feet closer.
Don't zoom. "Zooming is death. Don't ever zoom," he warned.
When you zoom in that close, even the slightest movement of the camera is accentuated.
"Even though there's that great zoom control and it gets you in very tight, don't do it. It will ruin your shot and ruin your film and make your family very nauseous."
Want a closer shot of something? Walk over to it.
Shorter is better. "Six-second shots, if you're not panning, work really well. If you're panning you want it to take longer, and it depends what you have in the frame."
If you have people talking, dancing, kids playing, 6 seconds might not be enough and you need to continue.
Keep it quiet. There's no need to narrate.