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Shooting Video Outside

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Shooting Video Outdoors Filming Outdoors

Filming outdoors is something all keen amateur video makers are going to want to try at some point. It could be your holiday or a child’s sporting event, but whatever the event if you want your video to look good, you need to learn a few tips about filming outside and, the first tip is to make sure you remember to take all of your equipment including spare batteries and extra tapes.

Lighting Considerations
You’ll no doubt have been praying for a sunny day on which to film but you might be surprised to learn that very bright filming conditions can present the most challenges. If your camcorder has a manual iris control, you will need to adjust that to control the amount of light which goes through the lens of the camera.

Filters and reflectors are other useful tools for manipulating the intensity of the light. Filters keep light out whilst reflectors bounce light into shadows. You can also improvise and look for natural reflectors too. Snow, water and sand are the obvious choices but cars which may be parked nearby and light-coloured walls can also be used to reflect light.

Without considering the intensity of the brightness of the sun, your subjects will seem to appear two-dimensional and over-exposed and it can cause some brighter colours to be washed out too. Filters tend to be understood by a beginner more easily and a camcorder specialist can demonstrate before and after effects when using different filters. They can be really useful for eliminating glare in a scene although if you’re not happy with what you see through your viewfinder, you might consider changing your angle or position to see if that helps, if your storyboard can accommodate that.

It’s important to remember that a camera can only film something in the way it’s positioned. It doesn’t have a brain like we do where we are able to look at something and our brain can interpret it in such a way that we know what we’re looking at. Let’s take a white seagull standing on a white sandy beach, for example. If we are looking at it from above, we can clearly see it. However, if you filmed the same scene from above, all you’d get to see as a result would likely be the sand. Therefore, it’s important to understand framing and to think about how you can frame your subject in such a way so that it can’t be misinterpreted on camera. Let’s take the same scene again. If you get down to film the seagull at eye level with the water as a backdrop, then the seagull and the sand will both be clearly visible.

Shot Setting
If you’re filming a mountain range or a tall building, for example, and you want to get across how big it is, you need to give your audience some frame of reference to enable them to see that for themselves. Let’s take Nelson’s Column for example. To simply film the statue on it’s own wouldn’t give the viewer any idea of how tall or small it was but if you place somebody next to it, that would then establish its size to a degree in terms of it being big, medium size or small.

If you’re outdoors filming a football match, for example, once again your eyes and the camera lens are going to perceive events very differently. Your eyes will be focused on the player with the ball but your brain will have anticipated where the ball might be heading next so you’re able to see the big picture. A camera has no such powers of anticipation so you need to keep your angles wide to incorporate both the player with the ball and any area they may intend kicking the ball to or running past a player – in other words, your camera should not simply be focused on the player with the ball.

If dialogue or commentary is going to be important to you, make sure you take an external microphone with a wind screen (foam or furry cover) to block out the noise of any wind. You may not be aware of the sound of the wind but your camera’s microphone will be.

In general, shooting outdoors doesn’t present too many problems. The important thing is to learn techniques to counteract the various weather elements you may be faced with from sunshine to squally windy showers, keep back up equipment with you and make sure you protect your equipment from the elements.

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