Video Creation Basics: Shooting Video

Moira West


If you’re looking to regularly create content for social, it helps to be able to shoot your own video clips. Video catches the eye in news feeds and adds polish to almost any promo. Luckily, with the high-quality smartphones and reasonably priced DSLR cameras available today, you don’t have to spend a lot to shoot good-looking video.

So for this week’s Video Creation Basics post, we’ll be showing you the basics of shooting your own video, along with some specific tips for product, real estate, and travel videography, and a “Build your skills” segment at the end to help you develop your video skills further. Let’s get started!

Planning your shoot

With just a few basic components, you can start building up a collection of video clips you can use in marketing for your business. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • The camera: You can shoot compelling footage with just a smartphone—check out a few tips showing you how in the video below. However, if you’re shooting with a DSLR camera, our series on DSLR photography can help you learn a bit more about composition and choosing the right equipment for your shoot. And if you already have the photography basics down, you can find strategies for video in our series from pro photography educator, Sue Bryce.
  • Shot list: Before you shoot, create a checklist of elements you want. This’ll ensure you won’t be missing any key footage later when you go to edit your video together. If you’re not sure what to include, don’t worry. We’ll dive into some elements you may want to add to your shot list later on in this post.
  • Background: Whether you’re shooting indoors or out, look for a background that won’t distract from the focus of your shot, be it a person, a product, or a some other kind of subject. If you don’t have a background that fits the video you’re shooting, it’s easy to create your own. For inspiration, take a look at this video showing you how to make a background for your video using wrapping paper and a couple removable hooks.
  • Lighting: A good general rule is to try to shoot your footage in a space with lots of natural light, since natural light tends to be flattering and give softer shadows. There’s more to it than that, of course, which is why our next post is devoted to lighting your video clips.
  • Sound equipment (optional): We’ll cover this in more detail in a couple weeks with a post focused on audio, but for now, if you plan to use a microphone, have it ready to go prior to your shoot.

During your shoot

Once you’ve finished gathering your equipment, grab your shot list and get to work! We’ve broken down some simple techniques that’ll elevate the style of your video clips, while helping you avoid some common video pitfalls.

Keep clips short

To cut back on editing time later, aim for video clips that are about 5-10 seconds long. This practice makes it easier to eliminate what you can’t use, lets you upload your video clips faster, and helps you avoid hunting through a long clip just to find the few seconds you need.

Stabilize your video

A steady shot is easier for your audience to watch. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to stabilize your shot and avoid camera shake. For the most surefire method, invest in a tripod to set up your camera at just the right height. But in a pinch, you can just plunk down your camera on a safe, flat surface, set up the shot, and let your camera roll until the shot’s done. If neither of these options work for you, or if you’re recording video clips on the fly, try some of these stabilization tips:

Shoot from several different angles

Viewers stay engaged longer when the focus and angle varies a little from shot to shot. So when you’re shooting, be on the lookout for different angles that’ll add visual interest to your overall video. Get down on the ground, shoot from above or to the side, go in close, and then pull back to give yourself lots of options later.

Remember b-roll

B-roll is extra footage that supports and enriches your main footage. It can help flesh out your video, letting you tell a more effective story—which makes b-roll a good addition to most shot lists. You can see what it looks like in action below.

Leave room for text

The purpose of a marketing video is to share your message with your audience. Since some of that message probably needs a bit of text, it’s important to leave room in at least some of your video clips for what you want to say. If you leave space above, below, or to the side in video clips, your message will stand out without covering up your image in the process. For more tips on this technique, read our post about shooting video with text in mind.

Shoot for your format

What you’re shooting for has a definite impact on how you should shoot. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Landscape: If you’re making a landscape video for YouTube, Facebook Live, or a website, just be sure to hold your camera horizontally to capture the right aspect ratio for your video.
  • Square: If you’re optimizing for mobile, Facebook, or Instagram with a square video, you’ll have to make a few adjustments. Many camera phones have a square setting, but if yours does not, here are some strategies for shooting for square:
  • Vertical: Creating an Instagram Story? Flip your camera vertically to make your content look its best.

Industry-specific tips

Product videos

In addition to the tips above, here are a few ways to get your product video clips to pop.

  • Note key features: Write out key features for your product and make sure to shoot video highlighting those features.
  • Demonstrate your product: If possible, show your product in use so potential customers can see how it works and why they should buy it.
  • Choose a relevant background: Select a setting that suggests your product’s use or ingredients. For instance, the video clip below features coffee beans, which set off the hot cup of coffee.
Video Creation Basics: Shooting Video

Real estate videos

A well done virtual tour can help sell a home before the buyer even sees the house. Here are a few strategies designed to help you craft a convincing video listing.

  • Prep a virtual tour shot list: If you’re considering a virtual tour of a property, take a look at our post with easy-to-implement techniques for making your tour look its best.
  • Highlight the neighborhood. Grab b-roll of the neighborhood, noting parks, good school districts, or other elements that make the area special.
  • Be ready for limited light. Not every home is full of natural light. Still, try to shoot during a bright time of day, and aim your camera away from windows and other light sources, so your images aren’t backlit.
  • Pan your camera: To give a sense of how rooms fit together and to make the overall property seem larger, try a panning shot, as the video shot by Elegant Exposure Photography does below. Move slowly from side to side or from floor to ceiling to copy the effect. A device called a gimbal can make that panning movement seem smoother. Read more about it, and get other tips in our post on shooting photos and video clips for real estate.


Interviews with you, customers, or employees can foster a connection with your audience and give them a face to associate with your business. Though interviews are a little more involved, they’re still easy to do, even without much experience. We put together this video to guide you through the videography end of your interview. We’ll leave the questions up to you.


We say travel, but really a travel video can apply to anyone sharing details about a specific location—an AirBnB owner, a travel agent, travel bloggers or photographers, even businesses that specialize in travel gear. The main idea is you’re outside and sharing the beauty and culture of a particular locale. Here are some tips to help you capture that:

  • Have an action-ready camera: If you’re spending a lot of time in the great outdoors, you may want to invest in a sturdy, waterproof camera. If you have a GoPro or a similar outdoor camera, check out our blog post offering tips.

  • Pack light-weight gear: You don’t want to be weighed down while you’re seeing the sights. Take a look at our post on must-have photography and videography gear for traveling light.

  • Look for local color: Try to find moments you can record that will tell your audience what life is like in your destination. Video will let you capture some of the vibrancy and motion that might get lost in still photography, so grab video of people dancing, chefs cooking, or any movement that’ll bring your video to life.

Build your skills

Now that you know how to shoot video, it’s time to go do it! We’ve put together some activities that you can use to get better. Choose one (or more) that make sense for your business.

  • Make a product video: Shoot your product from several different angles. If possible, use footage that shows your product in use. Combine your footage into a video. Try our  Bite-sized Product Intro or Product Story storyboards if you need inspiration.
  • Go behind the scenes: Hold a virtual open house, share a place you’ve visited, or show potential customers around your business with a video tour. Then turn your video clips into a video highlighting what makes your location, your services, or your business special. Test out our Property Listing, Behind the Scenes or listicle storyboards to see how you can put that video together.
  • Conduct an interview: Ask customers, clients or your own team to share what they think on-camera, and turn their answers into a brief testimonial video. Don’t have the footage you need? Use still images along with our Quote Block feature to share what they think.
  • Share a process: Record yourself teaching a skill, then edit together your footage to create a set of step-by-step instructions. Our Step-based Tutorial and Holiday How-to storyboards are good jumping off points.

And after your video is completed, head over to our Facebook group, The Animoto Social Video Marketing Community. You can share your videos there for feedback and support, or just get inspired by fellow group members.