As it's been said before, video is THE #1 form of media today and it's only going to keep evolving over the next handful of years and well beyond that. As of this year 2018, video accounts for over 2/3 of mobile usage. If that doesn't speak volumes, then I don't know what does.
Thousands of people in the horse world take videos of them and their horses, whether it's their horses just running and playing, or them, a friend, their student, their child riding. Taking good clean video is a lot more involved than many think. It's not rocket science but it's all about the attention to detail and the little things that are often overlooked.
I could easily come up with a 100 ways to shoot better video but here is just a start - so here are 5 of my biggest tips on how YOU can start taking better video of you, your friends, children, students and your horse(s) TODAY!
𝟓. 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻.
Leveling your horizon is simply having your camera's horizontal axis sit parallel to the ground. Why should you do this? Because it makes any video look a thousand times better than say one that was accidentally shot at an angle because the horizon wasn't leveled. This is mostly done with the camera mounted on a stabilizing device such as a tripod, ultra clamp, etc (you will read more about the Ultra Clamp later in this post) but it can still apply when shooting video handheld.
First you frame your subject however you like, then you adjust the camera so that (if done on a dedicated camera with this feature), you would wait for the horizontal leveler (horizontal line) to turn green, that means your camera's horizon is perfectly leveled. If you are using your smartphone (because phone's do not have this feature), use the bottom edge of your phone as reference and eyeball it from the ground. It will take more time and perhaps won't be near as accurate but over time with practice, you will get it very close and find the task much easier to do. Crooked video can be used for style and effect in some genres but not when it comes to recording individuals riding!
𝟒. 𝗗𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘇𝗼𝗼𝗺!
I know it can be tempting but if you use your smartphone to take videos (which I am assuming you do since just about every average consumer does), I always tell people not to use their phone's zoom simply because it's digital zoom and not optical. Optical is real zoom, digital is not. That is why, not just your videos but also your pictures come out fuzzy, soft and aren't visibly read when using your smartphone's zoom. So as a result of this, zoom by simply using your feet whenever possible. Yes it's more work but the payoff is worth it in the end.
𝟯. 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗱𝗲, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗶𝘁.
Obviously the reason why majority of the people shoot their video in portrait mode is because that is the natural position in how we hold our phones when talking on them, taking selfies, texting, reading, etc. Unfortunately you lose A LOT of screen real estate when shooting in portrait mode and because video is essentially a series of moving images, every bit of screen real estate matters for your videos. Instagram has it's purpose when it comes to portrait videos since that is the only format they take but when users are scrolling through their social media feeds on mobile, they want the experience to be seamless.
Very rarely will someone take the time to play a video that was originally shot in landscape mode to play in full screen, however, very often people will do the opposite and turn their phone to see a portrait shot video to play in landscape. Especially when it comes to recording someone riding, landscape mode is a MUST.
𝟐. 𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗺𝗶𝗰.
70% of a good video is good audio. Without good clean audio, the video is garbage. When people watch videos, if someone is speaking in it and they can't hear what the person is saying, they will stop watching. Pick up a external shotgun mic, one that works exceptionally well, is plug and play and made specifically for smartphones is the Rode VideoMic Me - the best part about it? It retails for $70-80CDN. I've tested this mic and you can't beat it for the money. Again, 70% of a good video is good audio.
𝟭. 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗶𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆.
The same logic from tip #2 applies here as well. Too shaky video footage and nobody will want to watch it because watching shaky video is just not enjoyable. If you shoot handheld, the key is to use both hands and do what I do, lock your elbows into your body for extra stability. If you enjoy walking while taking your videos, then I'd suggest a smartphone gimbal. There are many on the market but you can't beat the price and performance for your dollar of the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 which retails for $180CDN.
For everything else, use a tripod or a smaller and more tailored device such as the "Ultra Clamp" that is just that, a clamp that mounts onto barn doors, arena rails, chairs, just about anything with a flat surface that's commonly found inside barns to hold that camera steady for you. Oh and they are dirt cheap, about $40CDN, well worth the money I'd say.