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Things to Avoid in Digital Video Imaging

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/17/2010

Arranging an image for digital video can be perilous, so here are a few things to avoid that can make the project go a little more smoothly.

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    No Auto-White Balance

    Similar to the auto-focus try to never use auto-white balance. This tool will never be as exact as the real white balance because it just adjusts to an assumed standard of light color. Light has so many shades of color in it and no scene has exactly the same shade of light, so each time you begin to record you have to tell the camera what true white is so that all of the video clips you end up with have the same color levels. This is a tip that is going to be true for almost every video production situation. This tip is especially true when you are planning on tricking your digital video camera's white balance.

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    Check if the Camera is Level

    If you are going to be using a tripod, and you usually should, never forget to check whether or not the camera is sitting level on the stand. It can often be hard to tell when you are framing up an object that is a reasonable distance away, but once you blow the image up in the editing room you will immediately see that the camera was slightly crooked. Most good tripods have a “bubble level” on them right near where the camera click in, which is similar to the level that a contractor would use in construction. This is pretty reliable, but a sure-fire way to check is to dangle keys in front of the lens. If they are not hanging directly strait then your camera is most likely crooked.

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    Avoid Private or Embarrassing Body Features

    This one may seem a little obtuse for your video purposes, but it will determine how the audience views people in the frame and you as a videographer. When framing up on people make sure to not give too much emphasis both on traditionally private or embarrassing body features. For example, when framing the image on a woman make sure to not set the framing just below the breast line because the audience will immediately focus on that area. Make sure the bottom of the frame is either just above the breast line or significantly below it. This should be considered for a variety of body parts like the stomach area and the back of the thighs because an unnecessary exploitation of these areas can be considered irresponsible.

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    Avoid Unsafe Locations

    Though some images, like fire or dust clouds, can be great images in your final project, you should always avoid gathering video clips where the camera could be at risk. Digital cameras are expensive equipment and nobody wants to realize that they have permanently damaged their camera by getting too close to an open fire or flood area. Safety for yourself and equipment should always be top priority.

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    Keep Equipment Out of the Frame

    When filming you should always avoid getting any of the equipment in the frame, such as lights or power cords. With each image you are trying to portray a scene and focus the attention of the audience on something. If you end up allowing some of the technical items into the image then the suspension of disbelief that an audience has when watching a video project can be compromised. This is often referred to as “mis-en-scene,” which means the appropriate visual elements of the scene.

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    Get Smart

    These are just a few things that you should try to avoid, but there are dozens of others that should be considered when out recording for your digital video project. The most important thing to always remember is that everything in the frame should look the way you want the audience to see it, so never allow anything into the frame that will distract from that. Mind the placement of the images in the frame, the way people’s bodies are portrayed, the “auto” settings on the camera, the safety of the equipment, and the items left in the scene. Above all else decide exactly what you want on the screen in the final viewing and just aim for that.