Do your videos look like they were shot during an earthquake? Are they shaky with the subject bouncing all over the screen, and barely staying in frame? If this was not an intentional effect you tried to create then it’s time to learn how to get better at capturing steady shots.
- Use a Tripod.
The absolute best way to capture steady shots is to use a tripod. Yes they are bulky, unmanageable, and hard to carry around. Plus they take a long time to set up and you might miss a shot. Well shaky is better than nothing, but if you plan ahead you’ll have plenty of time to setup the tripod and still get the shot. Try to get a tripod that is meant for a video camera. You can use one for stills cameras, but they don’t have the same motion, or balance.
- Find a Natural Tripod.
There are natural tripods all over the place. A rock, a wall, a chair, the ground, maybe even a small pillow. Anything that you can set your camera on can become a natural tripod. You may have to play around with it a little to get the angle correct, but you’ll find something to give you that steady shot. I often use my wallet to adjust the angle placing it under the front to tilt up, or under the back to tilt down. It has the advantage of several thicknesses so I can pick how much tilt I need for each shot. If you use this yourself, remember to pick up your wallet with the camera, or it could turn out to be a very expensive shot. You could also use a book or a magazine for the same purpose.
- Move closer.
In my previous post “Zoom with Your Feet” I discussed getting closer to your subject and zooming out. When your lens is wider any shake you do have will be less noticeable. Why? Because, the zoom lens acts like a lever. The camera is on the short end of the lever, and the image of your subject is on the long end of the lever. The more you zoom in, the longer the subjects lever arm gets. So if you move your camera just a little bit, maybe barely perceptible to you, the image of your subject will move a lot.
- Lean on Me.
Find something solid to lean against. Press the shoulder that is holding the camera against a wall, a parked car, a light post, etc… anything solid. The solid object will help steady your body, and shoulder minimizing any movement that might be transferred to the camera.
- Take a Wide Stance.
Sometimes there is just no way around it. If you have no choice but to stand unsupported, spread your feet to about hip width or maybe a little wider, place one foot slightly forward of the other and hold as steady as you can.
- Don’t breath.
Take a normal breath before your shot begins and hold it. This will help prevent the normal inhale/exhale motion of your diaphragm from being transferred to the camera. Most people can easily hold their breath for 30 seconds. You don’t need to take a big breath. Trying to hold a big breath can create its own movements. A normal breath will do for most shots.
- Keep it short.
Even professionals have their limits. Unless your camera is on a tripod the longer your shot, the more chances of a noticeable shake in your video. Get the shot quickly and move on.
- Stay on Steady ground.
Is the ground really moving beneath your feet? Unless you actually are experiencing an earthquake, the ground is probably not moving. But that platform or the bleachers you are standing on might be. Make sure that you (and your tripod if you have one) are standing on a stable platform. The best way is to have you on one platform, and the camera on its own platform that is not touching the platform you are standing on. This way even if your platform moves, the camera will still be steady. Just make sure nobody bumps the camera platform either.
So now that you know how to get the shake out, you can get out there and start shooting like a pro. And if you want a professional videographer in Tampa Bay, or anywhere in Florida you can always find me here.