8 Tips For Shooting Great Video Footage

When you create a video with Magisto you don’t have to know anything about video editing.  Just upload your footage and Magisto automatically discovers the best parts and edits them together for you.  We even have features and effects built in to improve your actual footage, but the truth of the matter is that if you can get your original footage to look really great before you upload then your final video will turn out looking even better.  To help you get your original footage looking amazing, we’ve put together a list of video shooting tips.  They’re simple, easy to apply and will make a huge difference!

Learn the ins and outs of your camera

First things first.  Make sure you know your way around your camera.  You probably know how to zoom in and out and hit the button to record, but there may be other cool features and effects that you’re missing out on.  Sit down with your camera and the instruction manual and go through, testing out all the features.  You just may learn some cool new tricks that will take center stage in your next Magisto clip!

Use a tripod to avoid shaky footage

Magisto does have image stabilization built in to smooth out shaky footage, but you can avoid the problem altogether by setting your camera up on a tripod.  Tripods are also great because you don’t have to stand behind the camera to hold it all the time.  Set your camera up on the tripod, get your shot and start recording, then feel free to roam around in the shot.  This is especially great if you want to make a dance video!

Practice your pans, zooms and other camera movements

Practice makes perfect, so take a few minutes to practice your camera movements.  When you zoom in and out make slow and smooth movements.  Many people tend to zoom in and out and pan left and right way too quickly, which can be nauseating.

It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t be moving the camera constantly.  Keep the camera in one place to focus on a scene.  Too much movement can often ruin a shot.

Composition – The Rule Of Thirds

You may or may not be familiar with the Rule Of Thirds—a camera composition technique that can help you set up a nice shot.  The Rule Of Thirds divides the frame into nine equal parts separated by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines (imagine a Tic-Tac-Toe board superimposed on your screen).  Subjects should be aligned where these lines meet for the most visually appealing shot.

Composition – Headroom

When you are shooting a person, specifically one that is talking to the camera, you should take headroom into account.  Headroom is the amount of space between the top of a person’s head and the top of the screen.  When thinking about headroom you can also think about the Rule Of Thirds—generally, the eyes of the person in the shot should be placed along the top horizontal line.  But really, you just want to make sure that you aren’t leaving too much space above the person’s head, or too little space.  In the images below you see too much headroom on the left, too little on the right, and just the right amount in the middle.


Lighting is a lot more important than you may think.  If there isn’t enough lighting, your footage may look grainy and unclear.  On the other hand, if there is too much light then your footage may look washed out.  While you probably don’t have a professional lighting kit laying around, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that the lighting is as good as possible:

  • When shooting inside during the day try to get as much natural light into the room as you can through the windows.
  • When shooting inside at night set up lamps around the room to give yourself more light.
  • If you are shooting outside, choose a sunny area over the shade when you have the choice.
  • Try to position your body so that the sun is behind you and shining onto your subject if you’re outside and it’s a sunny day.
  • Keep in mind that midday, when the sun is highest in the sky, it can cause harsh shadows.  You may want to avoid shooting during this time of day.

Tell a story

Remember that the best videos are those that tell a story.  If you are shooting an event like a birthday party you want to tell the story of the event.  This means you should get footage of as many of the people that are there, as much of the location and as many of the activities as possible.  When you upload your footage into Magisto you’ll want to end up with a video that shares the full experience of the event, so shoot with that in mind.  Think about the story you want to tell and then shoot with that story in mind.

Always shoot more than you think you need

Finally, remember that it’s always better to have extra video footage than to not have enough footage!  Make sure you’ve got a fully charged battery and as much free memory as possible and shoot tons of footage.  Of course, only the very best stuff you shoot will make it into your final clip, but the more you shoot the more quality content you’ll have to choose from!