Skip to main content

22 Ways to Improve Your Home Videos

Forget trying to copy the shaky-cam aesthetic popularized by Saving Private Ryan—your home movie audience will appreciate the fundamental cinematography featured in the 22 frames below (click on the thumbnail, then click on the larger image that appears to see the full-sized version).

The above are compositions advertised as "that always work", and are meant to help the growing mass of camcorder users create home-made cinema that gives pros a run for their money. We only have Joel Johnson to thank for his hard work.

For a demonstration of the 22 frames, check out this video.

  • mauller07
    They also forgot the main one, decent camera work such as using stabilizing gear such as a tripod.

    Also decent camera hardware wouldn't be at a loss

    good time of having to 2 hand a camera and balance my elbows on my knees while squatting down to get some nice stable video.
  • Good Grief. If your goal is to shoot a scripted movie with a camcorder, by all means. BUT the vast majority of people want to capture unscripted live action. That is kids playing in pool on vacation. Grandma riding a roller coaster for the first time. Bobby's 5th birthday and seeing his face when he unwraps the Star Wars light saber toy he wanted.
    That is real life, unscripted. That is what most people want. What is MORE useful is compiling all this content into a form will not bore your audience to tears. That is EDITING.
  • grillz9909
    There are boobies in the third to last picture. GO!

    Haha boobies aside... this is pretty interesting. I might actually try to reproduce some of these shots. It's amazing how changing the camera angle or colors of the scene can affect the feeling or mood of the shot so easily... Of course I'm sure there are some of you who took some kind of photography class and are scoffing at something this basic. :)
  • LePhuronn
    Editing is only half the story - if you edit shit material you still get a shit video.

    I'm not saying every person with a handycam needs to have an in-depth knowledge of composition, but there are fundamental and easy points everybody can benefit from knowing to make their footage more engaging, enjoyable and (as a result) actually usable = there's no point filming grandma on a rollercoaster if all you're gonna get is a mass of motion-blurred footage because some pleb is holding the camera in one hand trying to follow the rollercoaster from 10 feet away.
  • joebob2000
    Saving Private Ryan? My home videos always go for the "Blair Witch Project" look... Terrible camerawork combined with uncomfortably close dialogues and nothing but scared-out-of-their-mind participants. How does it get *better* than that?
    Ermmm.... this is for doing comics, not video.

  • serkol
    What is "ben day"?
  • chriskrum
    My tip for amateurs: stay wide and don't touch the freak'n zoom!

    That one alone would make 90% of home videos better.
  • TwoDigital
    So spinning around while randomly zooming in and out (while adjusting the white balance and manual focus) isn't one of the 22 guaranteed framing methods?
  • eyemaster
    I hate when the camera moves so much to create action when it's the actors that should be creating the action. Just like in Borne Identity, great movie, but way too much camera movement. Each punch was done while moving the camera 5 times!