(a 2008 revision
of material written by Susan Bauer and originally appearing in EMQ
Evangelical Missions Quarterly magazine October 1993, copyrighted by
Alpha Video Productions.)
As the price of video cameras goes down and the picture quality goes
up, more and more missionaries and short-term workers are shooting
their own video footage. If you want to shoot your own, then have it
edited into a neat and clean, effective presentation, here are some
tips to make it look as good as possible. (Remember, your editor can
only make it look as good as the original footage he or she has to work
For certain high-impact presentations with broad exposure, there’s no
substitute for the experience, equipment, savvy, and creativity that
seasoned professionals can offer. The investment is worth every penny!
Think through which kind of video you need.
For those who find a simpler video report will do the job, following
these tips will make a world of difference.
It goes without saying that you must get acquainted with the
equipment—before you leave the country. Shoot. Shoot. And shoot some
more. Practice the different settings to see which work for you the
best. Take along more tape than you think you’ll need. Pack a notebook
to write down the names of people and projects (don’t forget to ask
exact spellings and job titles, too). And on location, roll tape to
record that information; you’ll be glad you did when you get home.
If you need professional editing for your story, Alpha Video would be
happy to discuss post-production services with you. And please call
us--before you go--to check format capability. And now, our favorite
1. Use the best quality camera you can, and look for an
image-stabilizer feature if you plan to hand-hold the camera at
all. (The lighter weight the camera, the more it shakes when you
2. Use the best format you can. Quality from best downward—digital
DVCam, flash-card or hard-drive camera, digital mini-DV tape.
3. Use a tripod. Shots must be steady to be edited. If you must hold
the camera, use the wide-angle position. (Instead of zooming, come in
closer to your subject, and it will be more stable.)
4. Resist the urge to move the camera. Instead, let the action occur
within the viewfinder frame. An editor can use only a few pans and
zooms, and they must be smooth to be usable.
5. Shoot in sequences—a wide shot to establish scene, a medium shot in
closer, then close-ups. Don’t be too shy to ask people to repeat their
action so you can get a complete sequence. Your editor will love you!