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6 October, 2023

Mastering Video Recording - Part 3

Video is the most important medium for online content. In developing the Perxeive app as a personalised education platform that has user generated multi-media content it was critical to provide users with tools to record and edit video content. In an earlier blog post I covered how we implemented user generated video recording and playback in Perxieve. I also posted a blog that gave users 10 simple tips to make their phone videos go viral on social media. So, the subject of video recording is close to my heart and helping users create great video content will help them get the most out of the Perxeive app.

In my life and career I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of different professional video recordings. These range from corporate videos in which I have appeared or which I have commissioned and been deeply involved in to television advertising recordings I have witnessed first hand in for businesses for which I have worked. This has given me not only personal experience but also the opportunity to discuss in depth with video professionals how they do what they do. I also have a personal passion for movies and as a member of the British Film Institute I have been able to listen to many of the film industries leading people discuss their craft.

In this short series of articles I attempt to bring all this together as a guide for those who are interested in video recording. In the first part we covered pre-production tips for successful video recording. In the second post we discussed setting up your equipment for optimal video quality.

Recording Techniques for Engaging Videos

Rule of Thirds

Having being able to learn from experienced video producers, one important thing I've learned is that one of the most effective ways to elevate your video content is by incorporating the Rule of Thirds into your composition strategy. This fundamental principle in visual arts and photography can make all the difference between an average and exceptional video.

The Rule of Thirds is a simple yet powerful technique that involves dividing the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, creating nine equal parts. The magic happens when you place important subjects or objects at these intersection points, rather than centering them. By doing so, you create visually appealing compositions that engage your audience and add depth to your videos. For instance, if you're recording an interview, try positioning the subject's eyes or shoulders at one of the intersection points, rather than placing them directly in the center of the frame. This technique allows you to:

  • Create balance and harmony within the composition
  • Guide the viewer's attention to key areas of interest
  • Add visual interest and complexity to your shots

By incorporating the Rule of Thirds into your video recording strategy, you'll be able to craft captivating visuals that draw your audience in and keep them engaged. So, the next time you're behind the camera, remember to divide that frame into thirds and place your important subjects at those intersection points – it's a game-changer for taking your video content to the next level!

The rule of thirds is a critically important concept to understand. For more detail see the execellent Wikipedia article of rule of thirds which provides a few examples including the one below.

Rule of Thirds Image

Leading Lines

Having personal experiences of discussing with video recording experts how they do what they do, I've learned that one of the most effective techniques to create engaging and captivating videos is to incorporate leading lines into your footage. But what exactly are leading lines, and how can you harness their power to elevate your video recording skills?

Creating Depth and Direction

Leading lines are continuous features such as roads, paths, shorelines, or any other element that leads the viewer's eye directly to the subject. By incorporating these visual cues into your composition, you create a sense of depth and direction, drawing the audience's attention exactly where you want it. Imagine capturing a stunning landscape with a winding road that disappears into the horizon – the viewer's eye is naturally guided along the path, creating an immersive experience.

To make the most of leading lines, try to:

  • Experiment with different angles: Don't be afraid to get low or climb high to capture unique perspectives that emphasize the leading line. This will add visual interest and create a more dynamic composition.
  • Pay attention to lighting: Overcast or golden hour lighting can enhance the leading line's impact, making it even more compelling and engaging.
  • Keep it simple: Avoid cluttering the frame with too many elements – let the leading line be the star of the show. This will ensure that your subject remains the focal point.

By incorporating leading lines into your video recording repertoire, you'll be able to craft visually stunning and captivating videos that engage and captivate your audience like never before. So, next time you're behind the lens, remember to look for those subtle yet powerful visual cues that can elevate your storytelling to the next level.


Talking to talented video creators about their work, I've learned that one of the most effective ways to elevate your video recording skills is to master the art of framing. Framing is all about using natural or artificial elements to create a sense of enclosure around your subject, adding context and visual interest to your footage.

When I think about framing, I think about creating a subtle yet powerful narrative that draws the viewer's attention to my subject. By carefully selecting the right frame, you can add depth, dimension, and emotion to your video. For instance, archways, doorways, trees, or even architectural features like columns or staircases can all serve as natural frames that lead the viewer's eye directly to your subject. These frames not only add visual interest but also provide a sense of context, helping to tell a more nuanced story about who or what you're capturing on camera.

But framing isn't just limited to natural elements. You can also use artificial frames like props, set pieces, or even digital overlays to create a custom frame that suits your subject and style. For example, if you're creating a video about a new product launch, you could use a brightly colored background with bold graphics to match the energy and excitement of the event. The key is to experiment and find the right balance between creativity and restraint, ensuring that your frame enhances rather than overpowers your subject.

Depth of Field

Some video recording professional have told me that they have found that mastering the art of controlling the focus is crucial in drawing attention to specific parts of the scene. One of the most effective ways to do this is by utilizing depth of field. In this section, we'll dive into the world of shallow depth of field and explore how blurring the background or foreground can elevate your video recording skills.

Shallow Depth of Field: The Power of Selective Focus

When you intentionally blur certain areas of your scene, you're creating a visual hierarchy that guides your audience's attention. This selective focus enables you to emphasize specific elements, whether it's a speaker's facial expression, a product's features, or an action taking place in the foreground. By doing so, you're crafting a more engaging and immersive viewing experience.

For instance, imagine filming an interview with a CEO in a bustling office environment. To make them stand out from the chaotic background, you can use a shallow depth of field to blur the surrounding distractions. This instantly places the viewer's attention on the speaker, allowing their message to resonate more effectively.

  • Separate your subject from the environment: By blurring the background, you're creating a clear visual distinction between your subject and the surroundings.
  • Guide the viewer's attention: A shallow depth of field helps direct the viewer's focus toward specific aspects of the scene, increasing engagement and retention.
  • Add context without distraction: Blurring the foreground or background can also help maintain contextual relevance without diverting attention from the main attraction.

Depth of field is a concept that is vitally important to understand. It is also a relatively complex topic that is well worth taking the time to learn fully. The rule of thirds is a critically important concept to understand. A good starting point to learn more is this Wikipedia article of depth of field which provides a few examples including the one below.

Shallow Depth of Field Image

By incorporating these techniques into your video recording repertoire, you'll be well on your way to crafting captivating content that resonates with your audience. So, experiment with depth of field and unlock the full potential of selective focus in your next video project!

Camera Angles and Movement

Video creators understand the importance of capturing their audience's attention from the get-go. One way to achieve this is by experimenting with different camera angles and movements that add dynamism and emphasize key elements in your scene.

When it comes to camera angles, there are several options to choose from, each with its unique effect on the viewer. A high angle, for instance, can make your subject appear vulnerable or powerless, while a low angle can convey confidence or authority. The Dutch angle, also known as the canted shot, adds a sense of unease or tension, making it perfect for dramatic or intense scenes. By incorporating these different angles into your video, you can create visual interest and convey the mood and atmosphere you want to evoke.

However, camera movement is just as crucial in elevating your video recording skills. Panning, which involves moving the camera horizontally from left to right or right to left, can help showcase a scene's landscape or follow a subject's movement. Tilt, on the other hand, involves moving the camera up or down to emphasize important elements or create a sense of unease. Dollying, which is moving the camera forward or backward, can add depth and create a sense of intimacy with your subject. By combining these movements strategically, you can create a visually stunning video that engages and captivates your audience.

Composition in Motion

Videographers are always on the lookout for ways to add dynamism to their footage. One often overlooked aspect of video production is composition in motion – the art of capturing movement and energy within a scene. In this section, I'll share the expert insights I have gleaned from the video professional I have worked with on how to take your video recording skills to the next level by leveraging techniques that create a sense of motion and visual interest.

Tracking Shots: Following the Action

When it comes to composition in motion, one of the most effective techniques is the tracking shot. This involves following your subject as they move through the scene, creating a sense of fluidity and energy. Whether you're capturing a person walking down a hallway or a car driving down a road, the tracking shot adds an immersive quality to your footage that keeps your audience engaged. To achieve this, try using a dolly or Steadicam to smooth out any bumps in your camera movement, ensuring that your subject remains in sharp focus throughout the shot.

Creating Energy through Blur and Motion

Another way to inject energy into your composition is by experimenting with blur and motion. By intentionally incorporating blurred elements within your scene, you can create a sense of dynamism and visual interest. This could involve panning across a bustling cityscape, capturing the blur of a speeding bike, or even incorporating intentional camera shake to convey a sense of urgency. When used judiciously, these techniques can add an extra layer of depth and emotion to your footage, making it more captivating for your audience.


Lighting is one of the most critical elements in creating high-quality videos that captivate and engage your audience. Proper lighting can make or break the mood, tone, and overall aesthetic of your scene. In this section, we'll delve into the world of lighting, exploring how to harness natural and artificial light sources to elevate your video recording skills.

Understanding the Power of Lighting

Lighting has the power to transform a dull, flat scene into a vibrant, immersive experience. By leveraging natural or artificial light sources strategically, you can:

  • Enhance mood: Create a specific atmosphere or emotional tone by using warm or cool tones, bright or soft lighting.
  • Highlight specific details: Draw attention to particular elements in your scene, such as textures, colors, or objects.
  • Create depth: Use lighting to create layers and dimensionality within your scene, adding visual interest and complexity.
  • Add ambiance: Establish a sense of place or setting by incorporating ambient light sources, like lamps or candles.

Whether you're shooting indoors or outdoors, understanding the principles of lighting will empower you to take control of your scene's aesthetic and create a captivating visual experience for your audience. In the next section, we'll explore additional tips and best practices for mastering the art of lighting in video recording.

Focus Pulling: The Art of Shifting Attention in Video Recording

As a video creator, you understand the importance of keeping your audience engaged and captivated throughout your video. One effective technique to achieve this is focus pulling, which involves gradually shifting focus between subjects or elements within a scene to create an engaging narrative flow. In this section, we'll delve deeper into the world of focus pulling and explore its significance in elevating your video recording skills.

Mastering Focus Pulling: Why It Matters

Imagine watching a video where the camera remains static, focusing on a single subject for an extended period. Chances are you'll lose interest quickly. That's because our brains are wired to respond to changes in our environment. By incorporating focus pulling into your videography, you can create a sense of dynamic energy, drawing your audience's attention to specific elements within the scene and guiding them through the narrative. This technique is particularly useful when working with multiple subjects, products, or demonstrating complex processes. By subtly shifting focus between these elements, you can weave together a cohesive story that resonates with your viewers.

To effectively incorporate focus pulling into your video recording skills, remember to:

  • Plan your scene: Before hitting record, take a moment to visualize the narrative flow of your scene. Identify key elements or subjects that require attention and plan your focus pulls accordingly.
  • Use smooth transitions: Abrupt changes in focus can be jarring for viewers. Practice using smooth, gradual transitions to guide their attention between subjects.
  • Experiment with different focal lengths: Don't be afraid to experiment with varying focal lengths to add depth and visual interest to your scene.

By incorporating focus pulling into your videography arsenal, you'll be well on your way to crafting captivating videos that engage and resonate with your audience.

Cutaways and Inserts: Elevating Your Video Storytelling

Watching seasoned video creators up close, I've learned that one of the most effective ways they use to keep their audience engaged is by incorporating cutaways and inserts into their footage. These techniques not only add visual interest but also provide context, emphasize key details, and break up continuous scenes, making your video content more captivating and informative.

The Power of Cutaways

Cutaways are separate scenes or shots that interrupt the main footage to provide additional information, show a different perspective, or add emotional depth. They can be used to:

  • Add context: Cutaways can help explain complex concepts, demonstrate a process, or showcase a product feature.
  • Create suspense: Use cutaways to build anticipation, hint at what's to come, or create a sense of urgency.
  • Show different perspectives: Cutaways can provide alternative viewpoints, allowing your audience to see things from different angles.

By incorporating cutaways into your video, you can create a more dynamic and engaging viewing experience. For example, if you're creating a tutorial on how to use a new software feature, a cutaway shot of the feature in action can help illustrate the process and make it easier for viewers to understand.

The Impact of Inserts

Inserts are close-up shots that focus attention on specific details, such as text, graphics, or props. They can be used to:

  • Highlight key information: Inserts can draw attention to important data, statistics, or quotes.
  • Add visual interest: Close-up shots of textures, patterns, or objects can add a layer of visual appeal to your video.
  • Create emphasis: Inserts can help emphasize key points, making them more memorable and impactful.

By incorporating inserts into your video, you can create a more polished and professional-looking final product. For instance, if you're creating a promotional video for a new product launch, an insert shot of the product's features or packaging can help highlight its unique selling points and make it more appealing to potential customers.

By mastering the art of cutaways and inserts, you'll be able to take your video recording skills to the next level, creating high-quality content that engages, informs, and captivates your audience.

Establishing Shots

One of the most effective ways that I have seen professional videographers draw their audiences into their stories is by using establishing shots strategically. These shots have the power to create empathy, immerse viewers, and enhance storytelling – and when done correctly, can make all the difference in keeping your audience engaged.

When I say "establishing shots," I'm referring to those initial moments of a scene where you deliberately place the camera in a specific character's perspective. This technique allows the viewer to step into the shoes of that character, gaining a deeper understanding of their emotions, motivations, and surroundings. By doing so, you create an instant connection between your audience and your protagonist, making them more invested in the story as it unfolds. For instance, if you're telling the story of a entrepreneur who's struggling to make ends meet, an establishing shot from their perspective could show a cluttered workspace, piles of unpaid bills, or a worn-out laptop – instantly conveying the sense of frustration and desperation they're experiencing. In contrast, if you're showcasing a luxurious lifestyle, an establishing shot might feature a grand mansion, sleek sports car, or opulent jewelry – immediately evoking feelings of glamour and sophistication.

  • Immerse Your Viewers: By placing the camera in your character's perspective, you invite the viewer to become an active participant in the story. This subtle yet powerful technique can evoke strong emotions, such as empathy, excitement, or even fear – drawing them deeper into your narrative.
  • Create Empathy: Establishing shots help viewers form a connection with your characters on a more intimate level. As they witness the world through your character's eyes, they begin to understand their struggles, desires, and motivations – ultimately investing themselves in the character's journey.
  • Enhance Storytelling: By carefully selecting the elements that make up an establishing shot, you can convey essential information about your story's context, tone, and themes. This not only sets the stage for what's to come but also provides valuable insight into the characters' personalities, backgrounds, and relationships – adding depth and complexity to your narrative.

Point of View (POV) Shots

When it comes to creating engaging videos, one often overlooked aspect is the point of view (POV) shots. By watching experienced filmmakers, I've learned that incorporating different POVs can elevate your video content and draw your audience in. In this section, we'll dive into the world of POVs and explore how to use them effectively.

Mastering Lighting for Immersive POV Shots

To create an immersive POV shot, you need to consider lighting as a crucial element. Natural light is always a great starting point. Whenever possible, utilize natural light sources to achieve soft, flattering lighting that complements your subject. However, we can't always rely on Mother Nature. That's where artificial light sources come in. LED panels, softbox lights, or sidelights are excellent options for creating desired lighting effects.

But here's the key: it's not just about using light; it's about balance and contrast. Achieving a visually appealing lighting ratio between your key and fill lights can make all the difference. Imagine a shot where your subject is dimly lit, with a subtle glow in the background – this creates an intriguing atmosphere that draws the viewer in. By balancing your lighting, you create depth, dimension, and visual interest.

To take your POV shots to the next level, experiment with different lighting setups and ratios. Remember, the goal is to create an immersive experience that puts your audience in the midst of the action. With careful attention to lighting, you'll be well on your way to crafting captivating POV shots that leave a lasting impression.

Reaction Shots: The Secret to Emotional Connection

As a video creator, you understand the importance of capturing your audience's attention and keeping them engaged. One often overlooked yet powerful technique to achieve this is through reaction shots. In this section, we'll explore the art of incorporating reaction shots into your video recording skills, elevating your content from mere visuals to an immersive experience.

Reaction shots are more than just a character's response to a situation; they provide emotional context, emphasize key moments, and encourage viewer engagement. By capturing authentic reactions, you create a deeper connection with your audience, making them invested in the story unfolding before their eyes. Imagine a dramatic plot twist or a heartwarming revelation – without a genuine reaction shot, the impact is lost. Consider the following benefits of incorporating reaction shots into your video strategy:

  • Authenticity: Reaction shots add a layer of realism to your narrative, allowing viewers to empathize with characters and become more immersed in the story.
  • Emotional resonance: A well-timed reaction shot can evoke strong emotions, from laughter to tears, creating a lasting impression on your audience.
  • Contextualization: By capturing reactions, you provide context to pivotal moments, helping viewers understand the significance of what's unfolding.

To master the art of reaction shots, remember these key takeaways:

  • Capture candid moments: Don't be afraid to capture unplanned reactions – they often yield the most authentic and captivating results.
  • Experiment with angles and composition: Get creative with your camera placement and framing to add visual interest to your reaction shots.
  • Timing is everything: Ensure your reaction shot is well-timed, coinciding with the peak emotional moment, for maximum impact.

By incorporating reaction shots into your video recording skills, you'll be able to create a more immersive experience for your audience, fostering a deeper connection and encouraging engagement.

Next Section - Post-Production Essentials for Polished Videos

In the next section we continue our journey to master video recoding by covering post-production essentials for polished videos.

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