Although shooting handheld footage is never ideal, sometimes “due to lack of equipment, lack of space, or just sheer convenience, you need to take matters into your own hands,” says Vimeo’s Riley Hooper in a recent article “Ten Tips for Shooting Handheld” on the video site’s “Video School” blog.
Together with Stillmotion (a group of filmmakers based in Portland), Vimeo compiled a list of 10 handy tips for shooting slick handheld footage. This article among others on “Video School” blog is a great resource for aspiring filmmakers, like those earning their degree in Digital Media at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Although we don’t agree with all of the tips in this video, overall it’s helpful.
Learn how to smooth out that shaky footage in Vimeo’s 10 tips below… and check out more from Vimeo’s “Video School” blog here.
Vimeo’s “10 Tips for Shooting Handheld”
“1. Use an IS lens: IS stands for image stabilizer. Nikon refers to it as VR, or vibration reduction. Both refer to a technology within the mechanism of the lens to reduce shake and smooth out the footage. Make sure the IS or VR (or another equivalent) switch is turned ON when you shoot handheld!
2. Use two hands: One on the lens, one on the body. The more contact points the better, so use both hands to steady the camera.
3. Keep the camera close to your body: Your hands will be steadier that way. When you extend your arms you increase shake, plus you’ll tire out quicker.
4. Increase the number of contact points: Use the camera strap to add a third contact point behind your neck, or the Zacuto Z-finder to add that contact point at your eye.
5. Avoid changing focus: Any time you adjust the focus of the lens you will inevitably add shake. Try to set focus before you hit record, and avoid changing focus while shooting. Also, keep in mind that the shallower your depth of field, the more difficult it is to keep your subject in focus. So when shooting handheld it’s smart to shoot at a smaller aperture (higher f stop number) to deepen your depth of field.
6. Use wider lens and move closer: Camera shake increases at the longer end of the lens. Instead of zooming in for a close-up, keep your lens at the wide end and just move closer. You’ll be able to attain the same shot composition. You’ll have to get closer to your subject, but shooting handheld gives you that flexibility!
7. Use guidelines: Watch horizontal or vertical lines within your frame and match them up with the horizontal or vertical lines of your camera’s LCD screen or viewfinder. Keeping them parallel and the same distance apart will help keep your shot steady!
8. Stand your ground: The camera is an extension of your body, so stability starts there. Spread your legs apart for increased stability and balance. If you’re next to a structure like a doorway or post, consider leaning on that if you’re shooting a static shot.
9. It’s all in the hips: If you need to track movement, try to avoid walking. Keep your feet planted and pivot from the hips.
10. Take a deep breath: Even your breathing can affect the steadiness of your shot. If you’re shooting a short clip, take a deep breath, hit record, and let the air out slow and steady as you record. If you’re shooting for a long period of time, keep your breath slow, steady, and even. This will also help you to relax so your movements are more fluid and you’ll be less tired physically.”