I remember the first video project I shot over 20 years ago...I still cannot watch it to this day. It was horrible for several different reasons, but mostly I didn't know what I was doing, so I faked it when shooting. Luckily, the people who hired me were really good friends and paid me anyway. It was from this experience that I learned to shine in the edit room.
Over the years, as a video editor, I have learned that you will not always get footage from a professional camera operator, (sigh) that's when it get really interesting in editing. There is crying, yelling, staring in disbelief and getting up and walking away, well that may be exaggerating a little. If non-professional camera operators keep the following in mind it would help us as editors immensely.
Let's talk about audio first…
When you buy a camera and see there is a built-in microphone, it might even be a really cool looking microphone, but please buy an external microphone to plug into your camera. As cool looking as the built-in might be, it is not designed to do interviews. When watching the news, ever notice the stick the reporters are holding with the station number on it? Yeah, and they have really expensive cameras to use.
Pay attention to your surroundings; background noises can be really distracting. Usually when we shoot, something will start. Outdoors, it is time for a neighbor to mow their lawn, and indoors the custodial staff will start vacuuming. Make sure that someone is listening with earbuds or a headset so the camera does not pick up the noise. Sometimes the noise is just going to be there, but if the viewer can see what is making the noise (like a busy street) and the voice of the interview is heard distinctly, then chances are you can go with it.
Next, let's talk video…
Shaky video, whether it is b-roll or an interview, shaky video footage drives me nuts. If you don't have a tripod, buy one. If you have a tripod, use it.
Make sure your b-roll shot is long enough. When shooting that award winning shot, make sure the editor has enough to edit. An idea I tell beginners, count to 15 in your head and do it again. Tape is cheap compared to having to reshoot.
Faces, faces, faces…people want to see faces of people, not the backs of heads. Make sure to get in front of them. Don't get too close, with High Definition cameras and TV's, it might get scary…I'm just saying.
Make sure the light in the background is not overpowering your subject. Witness protection is not the look most interviews want. Move to another background if you cannot provide enough light to see the person's face clearly.
Now all that said, as a video editor, I want to tell the story. These suggestions are to help tell the story and get rid of distractions. I think the best thing a camera operator can think while shooting is ask, "Will this make the editor think 'what a great shot,' or will this make the editor want to shoot me?"
Happy Editor…Great Story.