Video Shooting Tips And Tricks: How To Improve Your Handheld Shot

If you’re looking to level up your handheld filming, you’re in the right place.

Filmmaking is a challenging art form requiring many different skills: you need to find a crew, finance your project, shoot the footage, and edit it, to name a few. This process is expensive, time-consuming, and be difficult.

Luckily, things are getting easier for the up-and-coming filmmaker. 

With the ever-improving quality of cameras, it’s now possible to film without wildly expensive film cameras – instead using smaller, handheld cameras.

A handheld shot is a popular and commonly used film technique. It’s versatile and can be used in many different ways, from following a character to showing off the scenery. Filming with a handheld camera is also a great way to make videos on a budget

In this article, we’ll take a look at what handheld shooting is and provide some tricks on how to improve it.

Why do you need this article?

Thanks to a large variety of video cameras and software, anyone can easily shoot and edit a movie. But just because you have the necessary equipment doesn’t mean you know how to use it. 

If you’re a beginner and have never shot a video before, it can be hard to understand how to get started. 

Mentor teaching student about handheld filmmaking.

So what is handheld shooting?

More than likely, you’ve seen many examples of handheld shooting in cinematography: a person films while holding the camera with the help of their hands and shoulder. It’s an excellent way to add a more personal touch to your videos. There are many options for what you can do with a handheld video camera. You can use it for filming interviews, A-Roll and B-roll, VR, and more. The key here is to keep the camera steady while you’re moving it. 

So why are handheld shots used in films?

  • They can add a sense of realism and make the viewer feel like they are right there in the middle of an action. Handheld shots can also be used to create a sense of urgency or tension in a scene.
  • Holding the camera in your hand offers flexibility. You can take shots in tight spaces or areas where it would be difficult to set up a tripod or to get a different perspective of a scene.
  • A handheld movie camera helps to take shots quickly. This can be helpful to add energy and movement when you’re filming a scene that’s unfolding in real-time.
  • The technique can be used to capture b-roll footage. This is the type of shots that are often used to cut away from the main action and add visual interest to a scene.
  • Video camera handheld shooting helps capture spontaneous and unplanned moments like reactions and interviews.

There are also some drawbacks:

  • Handheld shots can be less stable than shots taken with a tripod, which can result in a shaky image. 
  • It can be more difficult to keep in focus, especially if you’re trying to follow a moving subject.
  • It can be tiring to hold even a small handheld camera all the time, especially if the filming process takes too long. You may start to feel fatigue in your arms and shoulders. Take breaks between shots, so you don’t get exhausted.

Video Shooting Tips and Tricks: How to Improve Your Handheld Shot

Source: Unsplash

If you’re like most people, when considering handheld shooting, you probably think of shaky, low-quality home movies. But it’s a very effective way to capture high-quality video footage. 

There’s no shortage of filmmaking techniques that can help make your video look more professional. Here are some video shooting tips and tricks you may find useful for improving the quality of your handheld shot:

Choose the best location

When handheld shooting, you’ll have more flexibility in where you can shoot. But that doesn’t mean any location will do. You’ll still need to consider the lighting and the background. A well-lit location with a simple background will make it easier to keep your handheld shots in focus and good-looking. If you’re shooting in low light, use a higher ISO to compensate.

Get the right equipment

Having the right equipment can make a big difference in the quality of your videos. 

Get a video camera that’s specially designed for handheld shooting. It can be anything from DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, GoPros, or other types of cameras. It should be lightweight and comfortable to hold. Explore the different options and purchase the best handheld camera for video

A good lens is another important piece of equipment you should think of. A wider lens can give you more leeway to make more cinematic camera movements, while a telephoto lens can help you get closer to the action.

Edit your footage

After you’ve shot your video, it’s essential to involve some editing to further enhance its quality. 

With the right software, you can take your handheld shot from good to great. Video making tools can help you avoid any residual shake or blurriness, make transitions, and even add special effects and filters. 

Some programs are free while others require a subscription to use them, so choose the one that suits all your needs.

Shoot in short bursts

It’s better to shoot in short bursts than one long take. This will give you more footage to work with and make it easier to edit your video. 

How to Hold a Camera Steady?

Source: Unsplash

Hold the camera close to your body

One of the most common mistakes people make when taking a handheld shot is holding the camera out at arm’s length. Not only will this result in shaky footage, but after a while, you’ll start to feel pain in your arms and shoulders. 

Instead, hold the camera close to your body, with your elbows close to your sides. This way you keep the camera more stable and reduce fatigue.

Relax your shoulders

Your shoulders play a big role in how steady your hands are. If you’re tense, it will be harder to keep the camera still. Relax your shoulders and take a few deep breaths before you start shooting.

Use support rigs

If you’re going to be shooting handheld for a long time, you may want to consider getting a support rig. This will take some of the strain off your arms and shoulders. A support rig can also help keep the camera more stable, which will result in less shaky footage.

There are a few different types of support rigs you can use. A handheld rig is the most basic one and can be as simple as a handle that attaches to the bottom of the camera. A shoulder rig is another option to distribute the weight of the camera across your body.

Select an appropriate shutter speed

A good rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed that’s twice as fast as the frame rate. For example, if you’re shooting at 30 FPS, use a shutter speed of 60. It will help to reduce camera shake and produce a sharper image.

Use a lower f-stop number to increase the depth of field and make it easier to focus on the subject. This is especially useful for filming moving subjects.

If possible, use image stabilization when shooting handheld. You can do it in-camera or post-production.

Don’t zoom in too much

When you zoom in, it’s harder to keep the subject in focus. Zooming also accents any small movements, making them feel much larger.

 If you need to get a close-up, walk closer to your subject instead.

Handheld Shooting Techniques

Now that we know how to make perfect shots, let’s explore some of the most popular handheld techniques.

Two-handed technique 

You hold the camera in both hands and keep your elbows close to your body. The two-handed technique is great for stability and keeping the camera still.

Shoulder-mounted technique 

This technique implies mounting the camera on your shoulder and extending your arm out in front of you. The shoulder-mounted technique is an excellent way to get a more stable handheld shot and have less movement.

Neck strap technique 

If you don’t have image stabilization in your camera, or if you want to further reduce the risk of handheld shake, try using a neck strap. This involves holding the camera close to your body with one hand while supporting it from underneath with the other. The strap will help to counterbalance the camera and keep it more stable.

Wrap Up

Handheld shots are an important tool for filmmakers. When used correctly, they can add a sense of realism, urgency, or tension to the filming process. They can also be helpful when you don’t have time or money to use a tripod or gimbal.
Try experimenting with different techniques to see which one works best for you. With just a little practice, you’ll be able to get steadier, more polished handheld shots every time!