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Weekly Video Tip: Zoom Rules

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By Stephen Schweickart

There are two instances when using zoom can really enhance your video: when you can’t get close to your subject, or when you shouldn’t get close to your subject. Yes, that extreme close up of an alligator stalking its prey may add to your storyline–but we hold no responsibility if you deem it safe to approach all those sharp teeth with your fixed, wide-angle lens.

On the other hand, people tend to act differently when they know they’re being filmed, so if you’re going for a candid approach, use your zoom. So, if you’re trying to capture action at a large conference or event, your zoom lens will be your best friend.

If drama is what you crave, use a slow zoom in or out to give your audience a new perspective on the action. Zooming in will create a more intimate environment, while zooming out will introduce the scene unfolding around your main talent.

Keep in mind that there are two types of zoom: digital and optical. Digital zoom is found on many of your inexpensive handheld cameras and, like your ex-girlfriend, it doesn’t do anything to enhance your image. In fact, it’s really just taking the image and enlarging it in camera, which could distort or blur the shot. And don’t forget that just because your camera can zoom, doesn’t mean it should. Optical zoom is absolutely essential if you want to maintain the best video quality.

When using a zoom lens to its fullest potential, look out for camera shake! Unless you want your audience to suffer from motion sickness, or the script calls for an earthquake scene, invest in a tripod! Using a lens with built-in image stabilization will also lessen camera shake when shooting that fiery explosion from a safe distance.

If you think using zoom effectively will broaden your video-making horizons, give us a thumbs-up or follow us for a closer look into the world of professional production.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/.

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