Lights, Camera, Baby!

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We’ve all sat through bad baby videos. The poor lighting, shakiness, and choppy sound -- UGH! That’s no way to welcome a new bundle of joy into the world. Whether you’ve decided to film the birth or capture your tike’s first words crazy sounds at home, here are 5 shooting tips to make your home videos enjoyable, memorable, and fun!

1. Know your lighting. As with still photography, your subject is only as good as the light. Mixed indoor fixtures (fluorescent + incandescent + halogen + LED) create the most bizarre colors on video. Try as often as possible to shoot near a window with clean natural light. When shooting outside, avoid the harsh mid-afternoon sun. The most natural illumination comes in the morning after daybreak and in the afternoon just before the sun goes down. This light is truly magical.

2. Get down with the action! Capturing dynamic baby video often means positioning the camera at the baby’s level. Take a knee beside the crib. Get down on your stomach and record your little guy crawling to or away from you. By keeping the camera at the “baby level” you’ll wow your audiences from an amazing perspective.

3. Rock steady, Freddy. As camcorders get smaller and smaller, there’s a tendency for lots of one-handed shooting. This leads to camera shake and motion sickness for your viewers. Consider using a light tripod or Gorillapod to keep things stable. Even when a tripod isn’t available, there are plenty ways to steady your shots. Start by always trying to keep two hands on the camcorder. Leaning against a support structure like a doorframe or the edge of the crib can help, too. Recording your daughter’s first attempt with solid food? Support your shot by placing your elbows on the kitchen or dining table and forming a human bi-pod.

4. It’s about the sites AND SOUNDS. Your camera’s built-in microphone is okay, but for optimum recording of baby’s first words, laughter, and other audibles you’ll want an external mic. If your camcorder has an external mic jack, try an Azden SMX-10 Stereo Mic. It’s light, inexpensive, and easy to set up. If you can’t use an external mic, try getting the camera closer to the baby. By minimizing the distance between your little one and the on-board mic, all the coos and giggles will sound richer and fuller.

5. Always keep your camera at the ready. There’s always a lot of debate about what’s the best type camera to buy. Whether you choose a simple shoot and share like the Kodak Zi8 or a more full-featured prosumer cam like the Canon VIXIA HF S21, the best camera is the one that you have with you.

Got a tip for shooting baby video? Share it with us below.

David Flores is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York City.

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Making the camera as common a sight to everyone will help all to relax and enjoy the moment. I'd also suggest having lots of fun while getting in lots of practice time and trying new things. All in all, everyone will be able to enjoy these times as the years go past!

I like to use my Black Rapid camera strap to steady my shots with my DLSR video. I extend the camera away from me until the strap tightens and then perform jib movements like a slow tilt from the sky down onto my little girl with a dandelion (which she always seems to have in-hand). I'd rather use the tripod or even my jib but common; that's not at all practical when you're playing with a 19 month old!

Be sure if you purchase an external microphone add on such as above, you also purchase a mounting shoe for the micorphone. I recently purchased a cannon from your store along with the microphone, but there was no way to attach the mic to the camera. I had to then purchase a shoe mic holder.  The shoe then had to be confirgured, by cutting off the nodules and drilling a hold big enough for the screw to mount to the camera head at the bottom. Please provide this info unfront before purchasing an external mic...

I use my Sony HDR SR11 camcorder for my family movies. It is really worth purchasing something that will give a very good quality picture. External light is the best when you are filming your little ones. If the sun is too strong, you can use one of the ND filters and they work just fine. You can't really have the camera ready all the time to capture funny moments with the baby as they are extremally quick and usually don't do funny things when you have the camera ready. It is all pure luck and a bit of good timing as well. IT'S ALL WORTH IT THOUGH. GOOD LUCK!

 perfect ,very good ,very good.......

 1.  The ALC or automatic level control is designed to protect your onboard mic from loud sounds.  However, if you talk while holding the camera, the ALC adjusts to the loudness of your voice.  This will make any sounds at a distance or a soft voice, like a child, too low.  If your camera has a powered or unpowered mic jack, use a wireless mic or even a wired mic to record the audio while keeping the camera at a normal distance for a more telephone shot. It is more pleasing to the eye.  Wide angle tend to distort close up objects like the shape of your child head.

2.  For a non-mobile child, take many shots from  difference angles and distances from your subject.  The variety of shots coupled with gentle camera motion adds interest and variety to home movies.

3.  Motion pictures are to show motion.  Using a tripod as a steadycam works well to add camera motion when you move slowly.  For recording a small person, shorten the legs of your tripod, hold it by the center post and guide it with the tripod handle.  Keep the motion slow and no more than 15 degrees of arc around your subject.   Camera motion will greatly add aesthetics to your home movies.

also, sometimes (not *too* often please!) turn the camera on yourself or whatever the kid is looking at.

Seeing from the baby's perspective can add a little different flavor from time to time.