Do You Make These 5 Common Video Composition Mistakes?

One of the things that quickly marks a video interview  amateurish is poor composition. You can have the very best equipment but  if you don’t take time to set up your interview properly it won’t matter what you spent on your camcorder. Here are the five most common mistakes.

framing - poor lighting

Subject placed against a blank wall.

Placing your subject up against a blank wall. There are several problems with this. The first is that most blank walls are really unattractive and it creates the impression that your subject is being interrogated in a police holding cell. The other problem, if you’re not careful with lighting, is that your subject casts an ugly shadow on the wall.  Always pay attention to the background of your composition.

bad framing - air space

Backgound is too busy.

Losing your subject in background clutter. This is the opposite of the blank wall syndrome. Be careful to place your subject in such a way that he isn’t visually overwhelmed by the background. Try to go for an interesting but somewhat neutral backdrop for your interview.

Too much space around subject.

Too much space around subject.

Too much “air” space around your subject. You don’t want a lot of space around your subject. This creates the feeling that the space is more important than your subject.

Having  “odd” forms growing out of your subject’s head. This can create unintended humor. Check for wayward plants, ornaments, or other items that appear to have taken root on your subject’s head.

Head growths.

Head growths.

Not sufficient lead space.

Not sufficient lead space.

Leaving too little “lead” space. If your subject is facing left or right you want to place him off center in the frame  so that there’s more space in front of him than behind. This creates a natural flow from your subject’s eyes to what he’s looking at off screen.

Blank wall photo by Paul

Backgound clutter photo by Mikel Daniel

Too much space photo by Laurie

Head growths photo by Jehane

Too little lead space photo by Gianpaolo Fusari

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2 Responses to Do You Make These 5 Common Video Composition Mistakes?

  1. Great tips! Another you might want to add is to place the subject lower than the camera for a more flattering perspective. I’m sure you’ve seen podcasts shot from a laptop where the subjects neck and chin appear enormous.

  2. @Mary. Thanks for your additional tip. There are all kinds of little tricks to make subjects look their best. Perhaps the topic for another article!

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