How-To Geek

How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck [Video]

If your home videos could use some work–and let’s be honest, for most of us they could use a lot of work–this brief and informative video can help.

Steve Stockman, author of How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck, shares some great tips in a video that–to his credit!–doesn’t suck. Watch it above to score five great tips that will radically improve the quality of your home videos.

How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck [via Digital Inspiration]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/3/11

Comments (13)

  1. Mr. Magoo

    Good tips, but keeping the brightest light source (esp. the sun) behind the camera can end up making your subjects squint. 30 degrees off is sometimes better.

  2. Eddie Colon

    Hello Steve, and fellow geeks,

    All these tios were great. I have a related question, how to make simple but good videos of a guitar player playing. I watch all the kids and older kids uploading videos to youtube, I can’t find any easy,useful tips on how to record yourself playing guitar. I’ve tried a couple times using an older digital camera , the built-in mic picks up external sounds (like noisy street sounds, noisy neighbors) and the guitar sounds too tinny (no bass) and the camera only does 10 fps. I know there are guitarists out there who know about making videos, any tips from you or Steve ? I might get a microphone for fathers day.

  3. Joe

    Very interesting !

  4. TheEmoLab

    To come to think about it his video was only about 3mins and he explained alot of things, very informational :)

  5. Doug

    I can put up with a lot of bad video if there is something or someone in it that I want to see. But my #1 complaint is video in which the camera moves more than the subject. I hate it when I feel that I should be wearing a seat belt when watching home video. I’m going to forward this article to my daughter!

  6. Doug

    Eddie Colon,
    While your camera might not be ideal, there are a couple things you can try to improve the quality of video you record.
    If you are using the built-in mike, position the camera as close as you can to the guitar. This probably means you won’t be recognizable in the video. If you have a zoom, set it to the widest setting so the camera can be as close as practical.
    If your camera is close to the sound source, the street sounds will become background noise in comparison to the guitar. Depending upon the built-in mike, it might be possible to place some foam or fashion a shield behind the mike to make it more directional. If there are drapes on the windows, close them and try to record at the time of day when street noises are at their lowest.
    If you get an external mike, position it close to your guitar and you should get better results compared to the built-in mike.
    Good Luck!


    great. i think you observation will perk up my videos

  8. herval

    wow ! thanks for the sharing..

  9. zeepkist

    tip 1 is: “think in shots”.

    but if i stop – start with my digital camera i end up with a lot of short videos.
    which are a pain when showing them to the family.

    am i doing something wrong? any tips on how to do right.

  10. Doug

    When the author of the video says to film in shots, I believe he is thinking of a shot of xx seconds long, not 1 or 2 seconds. When I used to shoot my kid’s events on 8mm film, I used to count to 10 at a minimum when the action was accetable. Now, not every time you turn on the camera will the video be worth keeping, ’cause you can’t predict what will happen in the next few seconds. That means a lot of the ‘shots’ you take will suck. And that is precisely why you need a means of editing your video.
    If you are lucky or filming a script, or a predictable sequence, things will work well, but most of the time it won’t.
    Getting good video requires lots of ‘shots’ and getting an end product that you will want to show with pride takes editing. Good video takes WAY more effort than still pictures. I used to cringe when the kids had a birthday or at Christmas because I had to run the camera and edit the film. But, when you look at your efforts a decade or several later, you know it was worth the effort and you wish you had taken more.

  11. DePariah

    Few good tips, but I do think the rule of thirds should be at least mentioned (one of the first things they taught us in Film & Television), hit up this link for a quick explanation (2 min or so) – its really simple. That video is about photography but the exact same rule is used in film :-)
    Also always try and have the subject positioned so that they are facing towards the empty area of the empty space of the shot (hard to describe in writing so ill just give a link)

    anyway, thats my two cents :D

  12. zeepkist

    thanks doug.
    editing it is and i found this interesting link on how to use picasa to edit your videos:

    have tried it and lo and behold it works fine.

  13. Eddie Colon


    I know it was months ago, but I wanted to say thank you for the good tips you gave me about recording a guitar player. I will try the one about foam around the digital camera. I appreciate.

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