#3 Sure Sign of Amateur Video: The Shakes

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Unless there’s an earthquake going on, your video should be as stable as possible!

SpiritLevelThe easiest way to accomplish this, of course, is to use a tripod.

Just make sure it’s level.  Many tripods feature a little bubble level (known as a “spirit level”) to help you do this.

If your tripod doesn’t have a spirit level, look through the viewfinder at the horizontal and vertical elements in your shot.  Are they level?

NotLevelNotice how the vertical elements in this shot (the edge of the wall, the side of the chair back) are not straight up and down.

Poor guy.  Kinda looks like he’s on the Titanic as she’s starting to go down.

It’s a simple fix – just adjust the legs of the tripod until the vertical or horizontal planes in your shot are level.

No tripod?  No problem!

There’s nothing wrong with shooting video handheld.  I do it all the time.

Sometimes I’m shooting in a location where it’s just not practical to lug along a tripod – like climbing through caves.  Other times the event I’m shooting is moving too fast for me to keep setting up and adjusting a tripod.

The point is, handheld video is just fine.  Just follow these simple steps to make your shots as steady as possible:

But wait – there’s more!

Use your environment as a tripod.

BenchBraceTake a look around you.  What objects or surfaces could you use to brace yourself when shooting video handheld?



Vertical objects like flagpoles, trees and walls can be a great way to brace yourself when shooting.  Just lean into them with your shoulder, hip and thigh.



Need to get a low angle? Try placing your camera directly on the ground to steady it.

Look for benches, desks, fences and other horizontal surfaces.

The world is your tripod!


Next week:  #4 Sure Sign of Amateur Video – Too Much Headroom

Follow Cindy Burgess:

Pro Video Storyteller

Cindy Burgess is a former broadcast journalist who's been telling stories with video for more than 20 years. She's passionate about spreading video literacy to the world!

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