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Family day is approaching giving you plenty of opportunity to take some fantastic family videos.  I have complied some of my favorite and fun video tips in order to get the best out of family day.


DSLR’s have become really popular with their ability to shoot amazing stills, and HD video. The most popular in use right now are the Canon 5DMKII, and the Canon 7D. I personally own both, and use them on a constant basis.  They give me the flexibility to carry around a still camera, and yet be able to shoot video immediately if my children start to do something outrageous.  They give you a fantastic depth of field and a nice film like look. Their only real draw back is they tend to over heat in approximately 11mins, and they don’t record the greatest audio with additional add-ons.   They really were not designed to be full-fledged video cameras. Thus, if are covering a live event, such as a school play, or a birthday party, a camcorder may be the better route.


A few years ago I purchased the Sony A1U, and it has proved to be invaluable while shooting my kids.  It shoots HD directly on to minidv tapes I can then store on my shelf or transfer them to digital. However, has almost all but disappeared. That’s why if you are in the market for a camera these days it’s a good idea to look at the ones that either shoots to a hard drive or to internal flash cards. Such as the Panasonic HDC-HS700k or Sony HDR-C110.  Just keep in mid if you are after one with a hard drive. Bigger is better! Video fills up drive space unbelievable fast!


When shooting Children, the most important thing you can do is have plenty of batteries, because you never know what they are going to do. But to make the shot more interesting and appealing to view, get down to their level, that means crouch down to their height. Not only can you get a better idea of their world, but your are more likely to get better sound from the more shy ones, unless your children are like mine, loud all the time.

Remember children’s voices are small, and therefore it may be a good idea to pick up an entry level shotgun mic such as the Rode. This mic can be mounted to your camera and will out perform the mic situated internally on your camcorder.  You will soon realize these inexpensive mics can save you a great deal of headache trying to pick up children’s voices, especially during parties with all the other background noises drowning them out.


One of my favorite things to do is give my daughter the camera and watch her run around and take video of everyone. This makes a great POV (point of view) of her world.  You will be surprised and happy at the footage you will get. They provide a unique perspective on the world.

Shooting Coverage

Being an editor means I can speak from experience, Coverage is key to getting the best out of your video. For example when shooting a birthday party, try to get shots of the house outside, guests arriving, close up of the cake before and after it is lit. This way you have enough footage to edit together a story that is more enticing for the audience.

Editing Gear & Software

Once you have all the footage you need for your family day. It’s time to edit them together into a great story. Now if you have a PC or Mac that’s a few years old, it may not perform as well when working with HD footage. Editing HD footage requires a lot of processing power. I would definitely recommend upgrading your Mac or PC, and you would be better off spending a little more on a laptop that has an Intel i7 to edit all that footage.  Such as the Asus or Macbook Pro.


The software I use actually differs from project to project.  But don’t think you need to break the bank to get the latest Avid or Final Cut Pro for editing. There are other solutions that you can use to edit your footage.  Recently EditShare released software called Lightworks. It is a free download in its beta form. Its’s a little advanced but they do provide you with helpful hints and tips as you use the software.




When editing your footage try to remember it’s more about creating a structured story then it is about adding tons of effects.  You first have to have a great story that engages your audience, and then you can use effects wisely to add to the scene.

By adding music it will help to set the pace of your edit.  However, try to turn this into a montage. So many people do the montage with several hundred clips spanning over several pieces of music. This can get real boring real fast. Try to focus on the children’s faces, their reactions, maybe their first bike ride, first steps, or even their first magic trick.  This makes a much better to story to view, and engages the audience better. Plus when you look back this video over he years, you will have a great memoir of the moment you shot.

Last Tip

I would like to leave you with one last tip for getting the best out of your family video. Do not be afraid to experiment. Experimentation is the spice of a good film; try different angles, different frames, and lighting techniques. It may be the shot that makes that special moment into a memorable film.

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