The best way to shoot a video by yourself
If you’ve ever tried before, you’ll know how hard it can be to make a video by yourself. How do I set up my camera? How do I make sure the shot’s in focus? How do I not sound flat on camera?
These are all tricky questions that can stop you from creating your next piece of video content. You have the idea, but you just need to know how to do it yourself in the best way possible? Well read on!
First of all you’ll need somewhere to shoot your video. Ideally, somewhere quiet where you can set up your camera gear – you can do this just about anywhere!
You don’t need a fancy studio – in fact, it can add a little personality to your video if the scene looks homey or has a flavour of what you’re going to talk about. For example, a couch and plant combination? Perfect! A corner of your workshop? Great! In front of a bookshelf? You’d better believe it!
Here’s a list of the best gear for shooting a solo video:
- DSLR camera
- Wide lens (24mm is fine)
- Audio recorder
- External monitor
- Daylight-balanced lights
Tip! If you have a camera that has face detection autofocus, you’re in luck. What’s that? It’s built in software that allows the camera to focus on your face while you move closer and farther away. This is one feature that’ll make it incredibly easy to shoot videos by yourself.
If you’re looking to get into shooting a lot of solo videos, it’s defiantly worth getting yourself a DSLR camera that has this feature built-in, such as the Canon 5D Mark IV. The good news is you don’t need a fancy pants camera to shoot a video by yourself, or any of the things in the ‘best gear’ list – just use what you have for starters and see how you get on.
So, how do I make sure my shot looks good if I can’t see the screen? Good question! For the best results shooting solo, you’ll need one of the following:
- A camera with a flip-out screen
- An external monitor
- A camera with WiFi to monitor the shot on your phone
Any of these options will work just fine, but maybe you’re thinking, I don’t have any of this stuff either!
Don’t panic! Do you have an extra display for your laptop? Plug your camera right into your screen and use that to preview – it’ll work just as well. Remember, all you’re looking for here is a way to see your shot and make sure it’s stays in focus and you stay in shot.
You have your background, you have your gear, and now you’re ready to set up your shot. When you’re prepping to shoot a video by yourself, consider sitting down. Why? Well for one, you’re less likely to wander out of shot.
Ultimately, do what you prefer. You’re the one shooting and you’re the talent in the video. If it’s easier to show your script on a laptop on a desk in front of you, do it!
Grab a chair and something to put your laptop on, like a small desk or stand. Next, place your camera on a tripod and position it about an arm’s length away from you.
As for camera placement, you’ll want to position the camera just above your eyeline, pointing down slightly.
Since your camera is so close, you’ll more than likely get away with using the cameras internal microphone. For best results, use a external microphone placed on a desk in front of you and plugged into your camera.
Next, if you have them, grab your lights. Place them on either side of your camera just above your eyeline, and dial in the brightness. Any daylight-balanced lights will do – you’re just looking for soft, flattering light. At the end of the day, it’s all about what kind of look your going for, so experiment!
Now that you’re all set up, shoot a bit of footage just to make sure everything looks and sounds great. Then, if you need to, make any last-minute adjustments to your audio, lighting and video settings.
Whether you’re shooting an off-the-cuff, or a more carefully planned video with a script, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Pump yourself up! You’re the only person in the room, and there’s no director to comment on your delivery. In order to avoid sounding flat on camera, get hyped with your favourite track or have a quick jog around the room.
If you have a good take, write down the clock numbers, this will save a ton of time when you get to the editing stage. If you can’t find the numbers, just cover the lens with your hand after you feel like you got a good take so you’ll know exactly where the best takes are.
Only record what you need, don’t let the camera continue to roll from line to line. Do a few takes in a row, then stop the camera recording. Again, this will help immensely when you or your editor is knee-deep in footage.
Take advantage of remote recording. A lot of DSLR cameras have WiFi built-in and the ability to record remotely from an app or browser. This is a huge benefit, especially for shooting solo. You get a preview of your shot and are able to quickly start and stop recording between takes.
Now you’re now set and ready to make a video all by yourself. Remember, try not to take it too seriously. Enjoy yourself!