How to take better home videos

Better home videos

Over the past few months my family and I have been rediscovering our old home videos! Even my three year old LOVES to see herself as a tiny toddler getting into trouble or caught doing something adorable.  It’s become our favorite Sunday afternoon activity. We pile on our bed and take in a walk down memory lane. It’s a guaranteed good time!

It’s been while viewing these family memories that I’ve come to realize how much I wish we would have been doing differently behind the lens to produce better videos. I think it’s hard enough to even pull out the video camera and capturing a moment let alone have to think about making it the best video ever! Ok, ok…so we arn’t looking for Oscar worthy footage but with a few mindful tips we can all improve our family videos by leaps and bounds!

tips for betterBack up a little! After watching hour after hour of home footage I noticed one very obvious thing. We were way too close to our subject! If we were at the park we’d be zoomed in on our 2 year old. We follow her around like a shadow, watching her pick up a leaf, throw a rock and find a bug. The frame was all about her. In our mind we were thinking ” Holy smokes! Is she not the cutest thing on earth or what!” That admiration for our explorer clouded our goal. The goal was to capture her, at this sweet age, in an environment that she loved.

Because we were so tightly focused in on her we lacked the ability to take in her surroundings and put her on a stage that would emphasize her size, age and ability. A tiny 2 year old up close looks like a cute kid but a tiny 2 year on a play ground highlights her height and comparison to her surroundings. If this is a favorite place of hers to visit a wider shot of her enjoying the park will better be compared to later visits as she grows.

And our kids aren’t the only things that change! Surrounding change too. If we are focused in too much on just them we will fail to capture the environments they will some day love to see again when they watch themselves on these videos.

Our back yard trees have doubled in size and so have our kids while we have lived here! The kids get a kick out of seeing how their childhood surroundings have changed just as much as they have.

Silence the wind! Sadly in too many videos we took outside there is a wicked wind swirling into the mic. It makes it next to impossible to hear anything else but it’s annoying tone. It totally takes away from the moment you wanted to capture and makes you actually want to fast forward to the next scene. If you are outdoors and the wind is working it’s best to tick you off just be sure to position yourself with your back against the wind. This might mean that you need to move the kids or go on the opposite side of the soccer field but trust me, if you can avoid get a microphone full of wind you’ll thank me later. Wind doesn’t sound very load in person but when played back on a home video it sounds like rustling paper.

Capture the crowd! We have years of collected birthday gatherings on video. Fun parties with one year olds digging into a cake for the first time and birthday girls unwrapping piles of gifts! I noticed that for the majority of the footage the camera was only on the guest of honor. I heard voices all around that I could make out as grandparents, aunts and uncles but I totally failed to pan the camera around the room to capture the crowd! I missed the chance to capture a moment. What I wouldn’t give to see how adorable my little one was AND see my grandmother, in her signature purple color, enjoying her party as well.

It’s not only fun to go back and see what you got for your 5th birthday but it’s also great to see how Uncle Doug looked too way back then.

Step out from behind the lens! This is our biggest home video FAIL! All too often me or my husband were behind the lens or avoiding being in front of it as much as possible. What a shame! 20 years from now we’d give anything to look as young, thin, or vibrant as we do today even if while the camera rolls we think we are not as camera ready as we’d like! I  regret not being captured on film, as dorky as it might feel I wish I had more video of myself and my husband as new parents.

Moments with our kids are what it’s all about. Put yourself in the shots. Make family videos about being a family! Years from now you will have endless footage to admire and laugh about! Your style, trends and self will be captured as they change. You won’t regret it!

Think short and sweet! Oy, I watched one video where I followed my little one outside for 8 min. Talk about a snooze feast! 8 minutes of the same old, same old. I was ready to poke my eye out by minute 4 on the play back! As cute as something might be in the moment just remember that to watch it back years from now it might loose some of it’s sparkle! Just food for thought.

Ask a few questions! This is sort of a family joke. When we watch my husbands old home videos we laugh because at the start of every video my father in law asks the same few questions ” What’s the date? Where are we?” How old are you?” It sounds pretty funny but I can’t tell you how handy it is to hear the answers back! It’s a great way to document the date and avoid that ugly annoying date that used to fill the corner of home videos.

fun questionsOne thing we have done well over the years it to sit our kids down and interview them! Interviews are a fun way to see your kids at different stages of life. We sit our kids down at least once a year and ask them fun questions. These have become some of our favorite videos to watch back and we all too often nearly die of laughter as we see their innocence, smarts and whit on display. Create a fun list of questions and start recording! These are a few fun questions we always seem to love hearing the answers too…

  • How old are you?
  • What grade are you in?
  • Who’s your best friend?
  • What’s your favorite food?
  • What is your favorite show to watch?
  • Do you have a crush?
  • What do you want your husband to look like or be? ( Funniest answers ever! Apparently my oldest at one point wanted her husband to like soccer, have big muscles and wear a bow tie!)
  • What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
  • If you could go on vacation tomorrow where would you go?

The list could go on and on! Take the time to create a list of questions that focus in on who they are right now! These videos will be treasures and don’t be afraid to get interviewed yourself! Turn the tables and have your kids ask you a few questions!

We’ve already started to take better home videos. Every time I pull out the camera I am thinking of the videos we have recently been watching and what I wish I would have done differently!  I hope these tips help you to be more mindful of how to capture family moments even better! Happy filming!






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    Love the tips! We need a better video camera- that is first on my “Better Home Videos” list! :)

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