As children grow from toddlers into students, more of the video we take of them seems to be set at school—plays, ceremonies and graduations. Since getting the best video requires a customized approach, here are some common situations and how to get the best video for each one.
This is one of the most common videography situations parents find themselves in—and one of the most difficult to properly capture on video. Start by obtaining a tripod. Over the course of a half-hour or more, even the lightest camcorder becomes too heavy to hold steady and your video will end up jerky and unwatchable as your arm tires. Set your tripod up in the back of the room, aligned as closely as possible to the center of the stage, then zoom in to capture the entire stage from left to right. The Samsung QF30BN offers a 20x optical zoom lens that should let you frame the entire production easily.
Once your camera and framing are set, hit record when the play begins, and don’t touch it until the final curtain. Zooming in and out will distract anyone watching the production on video later, and shooting close-ups only when your child speaks her lines will probably embarrass her.
Videotaping an entire graduation ceremony is probably not going to make for great cinema, so take advantage of your camcorder’s mobility to grab a series of shots throughout the day which you can later stitch together. Get a combination of shots. Look for wide views of the stage and the graduates (as seen from in front of the stage), close-ups of the presenters and speakers, and of course, a “hero shot” of your student receiving his or her diploma. Mix up video and still shots for maximum impact. (The QF30BN can capture 5.3-megapixel images and features a continuous shot mode that can grab eight still pictures in rapid succession.)
Another tip: Pay attention to the exposure when shooting in darkened halls. Dark or black backdrops can trick your camcorder into thinking it’s shooting at night, and it may automatically up the brightness to compensate. This can blow out the features on faces in the scene, making them look a bit like ghosts. If the preview image looks washed out, decrease the Exposure Value (EV) until things look right. On the QF30BN, you’ll find this setting by touching Home, then Manual, then EV.
Whether they take place inside or outside, capturing video of sporting events is a challenge for even a seasoned videographer, thanks to the fast-moving action. Avoiding stray basketballs and hockey pucks is hard enough, let alone getting great video of your kid.
Above all, mind the focus when shooting a sporting event. Unlike graduation ceremonies and plays, people tend to move around a lot during games, often walking in front of your camera. Your subject is also going to be moving a lot, complicating matters further. Keep a close eye on the preview image to make sure your camera’s autofocus is trained on the right thing. If too many people keep breaking the frame (and messing up the focus), you may want to switch to manual focus mode.
Your best bet to avoid people getting in the way of your shot? Get as close to the sidelines as possible, an extra trick which helps you take video that looks more like it’s part of the action instead of just observing it.
If you’re left-handed, it can be difficult to use many camcorders because they are optimized for use by righties. Samsung’s QF30BN features an ambidextrous feature called Switch Grip 2.0, which lets you turn the camera upside down and shoot lefty. This mode, which you can activate from the Settings menu, can also help when you’re shooting in unconventional spaces, such as when you’re pressed against a wall or shooting from a vantage point on the ground.
Got the perfect video clip? Built-in Wi-Fi on the QF30BN lets you upload videos and photos to social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube any time you’re in wireless range, no computer needed.
For more advice on how to capture great videos, check out our other Camcorder Articles.
Do you have some helpful tips on how to capture school memories? Share them in the comments below.
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