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What to Avoid When You're Shooting Digital Video

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/12/2010

Doing on-site video production can sometimes be difficult, but there are sways to avoid difficulties by being prepared for them in advance.

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    A Delicate Art

    The digital video medium is fragile when it comes to capturing images and sound from the real world. The way things appear on video is often times starkly different than how they are in the real world, and many things do not transfer well at all. There are certain elements that should be avoided when in the field recording.

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    Wind

    Avoid filming outdoors on a windy day. Wind is something that can upset even the most prepared video shoot. Even if you are using the highest quality microphones, either external or onboard, the sound of wind hitting them may cause the audio recording to be completely unusable. Though padded windsocks can cut down on this interference, there is no way to eliminate it completely. An unpredicted gust can also alter whatever scene you have set up and constructed. If the weather report indicates that there is anything other than a moderate breeze you should think about holding off for the day and rescheduling whenever possible.

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    Colors

    Another thing that should be considered are the colors of the subjects you are going to shoot, especially the colors of the clothing the people in the shots will be wearing. You always want to avoid filming anyone wearing colors brighter than their skin tones. For people with very light and pale skin this means no white or yellow. For people with darker skin tones this has to be even stricter, so it is better to always go with earth tones. Avoid thin, vertical stripes as this will make the image too busy and appear as though it is shaking. The videographer should always try to avoid bright reds, both on the subjects and in the environment. Red is the hardest color to capture on video and the likelihood is that it will just look over exposed.

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    Glasses

    All eye glasses can be a problem when worn by the subject, so when possible try to encourage the subject to not wear them. Eye glasses have a tendency to cause glare and sunburst effects. Sunglasses should always be avoided, because they are difficult to light properly and they make the eyes difficult, if not impossible, to see. When the audience is watching a person on the screen they want to connect with them through the eyes. Unless you want your subject to appear sinister or distant it is important to let their eyes show.

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    Busy Public Places

    It is good to avoid extremely public places because this tends to be were uninvolved people will interfere with your production. It is natural to want to inquire when you see a video camera, and that is exactly what will happen when shooting in places with lots of people who are not aware of your project ahead of time. It is much better to stage a group shot if you need one then ever shoot in an extremely crowded public place. Also, if you have any hopes of ever submitting your film for commercial consideration, each person easily identifiable in the film would have to sign a model's release.

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    Be Careful

    Shooting on digital video can be incredibly difficult because of the sensitivity of the medium. If you know what kinds of elements to avoid you can be much more prepared for putting together great digital video shoots. But remember, if something does go wrong, you can still re-do certain portions, make changes, and improvise when necessary. That's what video editing software is for!