Video Tips: Cooking Shoots

I’m new to the video world. I don’t own a video camera (well, my phone, but that’s not why I got it), lights, mics, editing software or anything else associated with video production. Naturally, of course, I don’t let that stop me from tackling self imposed video assignments at work. I’m certainly no expert (hardly a novice), but that won’t stop me from using my blog to spit out some tips from what little I do know. My assignment was to shoot a how-to baking segment like you’d see on any cooking show. Here’s what I learned:

  • Have a script or storyboard before you even show up to the shoot: figure out the flow of what you want to capture so you can scope out the right camera angles, get the necessary sequences filmed and ensure you don’t forget anything. For example, I didn’t film an intro sequence where our baker introduced herself to the world. I made up for it during editing with an overlay of her name and title, but it would have been better for her to introduce herself.
  • On the heels of the above example, if you intend to create a series of videos, make an intro and credits sequence to bookend the entire production.
  • Have note cards somewhere out of camera view, but available to the person in the shot to ensure they sticks to the script and don’t forget anything important.
  • Don’t belabor anything for too long. Web video typically needs to be short and sweet. If there’s a ton of information to communicate, do it over a series of videos instead of one overly long one (how often do you sit through a 30 minute video? Hmmm?). Also, YouTube has time limits except under some instances like edu accounts, so time does need to be a concern. You can also include supplemental information as text based video notes that accompanying the piece.
  • Learn from existing cooking shows and have all of the ingredients pre-measured and ready to go to simplify the shoot. This allows you to avoid lots of cuts which can be distracting and problematic when editing.
  • Have enough ingredients on hand to do the shoot several times, just in case.
  • If you have the resources, shoot with multiple cameras so that multiple angles can be captured at once. Efficiency is a good thing.
  • Keep the counter area free of distractions: no stray bottle caps, unnecessary towels, bowls, etc. When you add an ingredient that’s measured out in a dish of some sort, set it out of camera view after you no longer use it. If you keep things clutter free, that’s half the battle.
  • Again, if resources allow, use a mic in order to ensure a consistent audio level. I only used the mic that came with the camera. The camera placement was far enough away in some shots that our host sounded distant. I augmented it during editing, but why not get it right during shooting?
  • And yet again with the resources theme, use good lights. If you’re relying on natural light, you’re at the mercy of clouds rolling by. If you’re relying on indoor lights, you’re at the mercy of odd shadows, odd color casts, and the weird spotlight effect that never looks good. Spotlights can also cause harsh reflections off of metal or plastic that’s no fun to deal with.
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