Video Shooting Tips: How to Compose Great Shots

Last week we gave you some tips on how to shoot better video on your smartphone – this week we’re breaking things down further with some easy-to-apply tips for shot composition. Get ready to shoot some phenomenal footage!

tipstricksMagisto takes the work out of video editing and even improves upon your footage with image stabilization, color correction and the addition of filters, effects and transitions. That being said, your final result will always be better if the footage you give us to work with is well-shot. Last week we gave you some tips on how to shoot better video on your smartphone – this week we’re breaking things down further with some easy-to-apply tips for shot composition. Get ready to shoot some phenomenal footage!

When it comes to shot composition, there are two main principles you should always keep in mind – The Rule of Thirds and Head Room.

The Rule Of Thirds

The rule of thirds is an easy way to find a nice way to frame your shot.  This camera composition technique divides your frame into 9 equal sections with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines, like a Tic Tac Toe board.  Points of interest should be placed at the intersections of these lines for the most visually appealing shot. The reason? When objects are slightly off center it makes for a more interesting shot than when they are perfectly aligned and symmetrical.

You can see The Rule of Thirds in action in the image below. Notice how the dog is lined up along the left side of the screen, in line with the left side of the Tic Tac Toe board, with his head and nose placed at two of the intersections. Click here to read more about The Rule of Thirds.


Head Room

When shooting a person, specifically one that is talking to the camera, you have to keep headroom in mind.  Headroom is the amount of space between the top of the person’s head and the top of the screen.  Too much or too little headroom can ruin a shot.  Think about the Rule Of Thirds and imagine that you are lining up the subjects eyes with the top horizontal line.  In the image below you see that on the left there is too much headroom and on the right there is too little.  The center is just right.



While we’re on this subject – we’ve noticed that a lot of you are uploading videos of yourselves dancing with your heads completely cut out of the shot. You have awesome dance moves – own them! Showing your face won’t only let you take the credit for your skills, but will also make your Movies much more interesting and engaging.

Use a tripod

If you have the option, using a tripod can help you with your composition by allowing you to set up your shot and then hold it steady. When you shoot by holding a camera or smartphone, it can be hard to keep your hands steady, so even if you start out with a nice shot, things might get shaky and as your arms get tired you may start to lose your carefully crafted composition.

If you don’t have a tripod, not to worry – Magisto has image stabilization built in to counteract any shake we encounter in your footage. You can cut down on shaky footage and keep your composition steady by holding your camera or smartphone with two hands and bracing your arms against your body.

Practice makes perfect

When it comes to video shot composition, the more you practice the better you’ll get. Ask friends for feedback when you show them your Movies and improve based upon their suggestions. Additionally, if you’ll want to include movement in your camera work, take some time practicing panning from side to side and zooming in and out.  Use slow, steady, fluid motions.  Many people zoom and pan too quickly and it can be nauseating.  Additionally, remember that you don’t want to be moving the camera all the time.  Frame your shot and leave the camera still to capture the action – Magisto may incorporate movement into your shots after the fact!

Do you have any tips for video composition that you’d like to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!