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Video Basics: Focal Lengths and Movement

Tips on Focal Lengths and Movement

Here at Video One Productions, we live and breath video. Our staff has experience doing corporate videos, creative videos, even unusual art videos. We’ve done it all and we’re going to share some simple wisdom on the fundamentals of making a video.

focal lengths

Focal Lengths
Long, medium, close-up. Those are the three focal lengths used in movies and video. Typically, a well-composed video will try to incorporate all three.

Of course, a certain corporate videos might struggle to find organic ways to vary the focal lengths used in production. A truly long shot might not seem appropriate in a talking head video or a product demonstration. But keep in mind, long and close-up shots can be relative.

The difference between the three focal lengths might not seem like a huge difference, but the variety will offer a more engaging viewing experience for anyone watching the video.

The camera is a powerful machine, it’s a window to your stories. How you use a camera will make or break the success of your video production. The ultimate videographer trick is to get your viewers to forget that they’re watching something, and the way you use a camera will either draw your viewers in or deter them completely. Here are some tips for camera operation to help you make stories engaging and consuming.

  • Always use a tripod! The shaky, handheld camera effect has been appearing a lot in popular culture. Occasionally, it serves a purpose. However, too often it’s distracting. A tripod will give any video a touch of professionalism that will help keep viewers focused on the video’s subject.
  • Beware of pans! I once had a video professor who discouraged his students from ever using pans or zooms. He said they were unnecessary, and any story can be told without them. He has a point, but they serve a purpose when used carefully. If you are going to pan, make sure it follows action. If you’re going to zoom, don’t let it reveal that something is out of focus.
  • Follow the nose! This one is simple. Assume your subject is a person with a face. Unless the person is looking directly towards or away from the camera, their nose should be facing open space in a shot.

If you’re looking for more video production tips, check out our blog about green screens and chroma key technology.

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