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Tips for shooting for the web

For the smallest file size, the ideal subject would probably a talking head against a plain and boring background in a noise free studio. This is not very practical so please consider the following guidelines.

  • Try to shoot on a tripod when possible. If you shoot video with the camera in your hands, every slight move you make is translated into change between frames and generates more data to compress. The more similar each frame is to the next, and the one before it, the better the final product.  It’s all about keeping the data rate lean.
  • A word about wardrobe. Stripes, dots and checks are not so good. When you can plan ahead, ask your talent to wear low contrast solid colours. You might be tempted to set your subject up in front of a tree swaying gently in the breeze, but you’ll need a lot of file size to capture the movement of the leaves online. Try finding a stationary background that can be easily compressed and still look good.
  • High contrast busy backgrounds are also unhelpful. Plain walls will compress better than busy wallpaper
  • If you don't have a choice of location then shallow depth of field will come in handy. Open the camera's aperture (f2.4 – f5.6) and place the camera further away and increase the focal length to reduce depth of field. A neutral density filter (ND filter) will help to prevent over exposure. Your subject can be kept in focus while the background is blurred, reducing the amount of detail that has to be compressed.
  • High contrast lighting is also not useful. Use a soft-light indoors or put a diffuser in front of a hard light. Shooting at midday in bright sun will cast dark shadows under chins and into deep set eyes
  • In a web browser’s small viewing window, close-ups give the viewer a better chance of working out what is going on than wide shots.
  • In addition, make sure you use large enough titles, as the screen will most likely be reduced to a 360×240 (or smaller) size. You can size down your preview window in Premiere or Final Cut Pro to that size and that will help you preview your logos and titles
  • To obtain the cleanest and clearest sound the microphone needs to be very close to the subject. An on-board microphone does not achieve this so an external microphone and a skilled sound recordist will produce the best results. Minimize background noises. Good clean audio produces better results in compression