How can I improve my video technique?

This is a question not just addressed at amateurs and enthusiasts, but also at professionals. At CASTERBRIDGE VIDEO, we continually examine our technique and consider how we can become even better. Because of this we have some simple tips which may help you. All of these are for guidance - sometimes the most dramatic shots are made by deliberately breaking the rules (having thought about it beforehand rather than doing it through carelessness)!

Watch television!

This is the simplest tip of all, and probably the best. This is particularly true in Britain where our television companies have the highest production standards in the world, and can provide excellent examples to follow. Think about:

The answers may be surprising. The shots will all be quite short (certainly measured in seconds), composition will be considered and look natural, the camera won't move or zoom often during the shot but does cover the same action from different static angles, sound quality is always high and favours whoever/whatever is doing the 'action', and the background will not be distracting - if it is, a good cameraperson will throw it slightly out of focus. And talking of focus, 99.9 per cent of television shots will be razor sharp.

Shot length

Following on from the above comment, keep the length of your shots down, and after taking one shot, move the camera and take the same action from another angle. As a rough guide, in a professional production we'll usually use between six and ten shots per minute - an average length of six to ten seconds each.


Some basic rules can help. The subject should be near the centre of the frame, and dominate the picture.

Camera Moves

As a creative tool, and used carefully, a zoom can be great. But it shouldn't be used all the time. Equally, keep the camera still - what you are filming should do the moving…not the camera!


If you are trying to film someone and want to hear what they're saying, try to pick a quiet environment. If there's a noise - for example a radio playing or the television is on - think about turning the volume down while you are filming. If you have a microphone socket on your camera, you could get a separate microphone that you can place nearer to the subject than the camera with its 'on-board' mic. Beware though that there is a skill to using a separate microphone, so practice first before you try to record something important this way.


The same applies as above. If the background is distracting try to re-frame the shot so the background is simpler. Sometimes the only way to do this is to shot from a higher angle - so the ground behind the subject becomes the background, rather than something further away which is moving.


Auto focus on modern cameras is much better than it used to be, and in most circumstances is good. However it's never used by professionals because it can't beat the human eye. If you do have manual focus, use it when you can. If you don't, you risk the focus 'hunting' back and forth through the focus range, and no autofocus can cope with a really fast moving or unpredictable subject. Some auto focus mechanisms also make a noise on the video because they're close to the camera microphone.

We hope these pieces of advice will help you to create better productions - as a professional production company these rules (and many others) are second nature to CASTERBRIDGE VIDEO.

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If you would like to find out more please contact Casterbridge Video by e-mail. Please replace the 'at' with an '@' symbol on the actual mail form.
Or you can telephone us on (01590) 623077, or write to

Casterbridge Video,
Grande Havre,
Partridge Road,
Hampshire. SO42 7RZ.