You can't fail to communicate

The HMX production blog

*User Generated Content - the buzz phrase for videos produced by staff themselves...

With the ready availability of small high quality video cameras, even those built into smart phones, user generated content has become popular within organisations as a way of generating footage at low cost. Ensuring that the quality of the filming is also of a high standard often comes secondary. But it needn't. Below, we have listed our top tips for getting the best from UGC.

Content
Every good film starts with the script and it's no different for you. Think very carefully about what you want to say.

You may find that drafting a script, and perhaps using sketchy drawings or a text description to share your ideas in the form of a storyboard helps.

Carefully plan the length of each shot and depending on your plans for editing (there may be no time to do any!) you may need to shoot in sequence, so your finished film plays back straight from the camera.

Holding the Camera
Firstly, hold it still, and don't wave it around!

The biggest mistake new video users make is to film in the way you would naturally look at a subject. The human eye will dart about taking in details of a scene, but with a video this is called 'hosepiping' and is very difficult to watch. Pros keep the camera steady, framed up on a pleasing composition and they let the action happen in the frame. Introduce slow camera movements where appropriate, either (very slow) pans across a scene, or (very slow) zooms in or out, either to reveal more of a subject, or throw emphasis on a subject by moving in. Make sure you have a reason for any camera move.

The other point on composition is to try and keep the subject large in the frame. If you are shooting a head and shoulders interview, then make sure the audience can see the expressions on the face, and if filming a larger subject cut together wide 'establishing' shots with close up detail shots.

It also helps if, for example, you are shooting a single person, to position them off to the left or right of the frame and have them looking into the frame.

Background
Try not to shoot against a bright light, and watch for straight lines or plants appearing to come out of the subjects head or ears.

Think about the background you choose - it should not be too fussy or detailed as that will detract from the subject matter.

Sound
Remember the microphone is usually built in to the camera and is often not very good quality. Being built in means you cannot put it where it needs to be -  near the speakers mouth or the action. To counteract this, keep the subject close to the camera, close windows and doors, turn off background music if possible, or find a quieter spot to film.

And don't let two people speak at once ... the human ear does a much better job of sorting out multiple conversations than a recording, which will sound awful.

Finally, the good news is that these cameras are usually solid state, with a built in storage chip, so there are no tapes to worry about. It will record for maybe an hour or two depending on the model and then you will either hand it back or copy the recorded files to your computer for further use. To do this you will need to follow the instructions for your camera.

Good luck, and happy filming!