Do your videos shake? Do your videos look like they were shot from a boat in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane?
Regardless of whether your video has a little wobble or is bobbing up and down like a rough sea, a shaky video can do significant damage to your final shot. It will make a mess of your frames and distract your viewers, which is never a good thing.
If you struggle with shooting a stable and precise shot, don’t worry. There are a few practical things you can do to stabilize your videos without breaking the bank with fancy equipment.
In fact, shooting videos entirely handheld is one of my favorite techniques. No fancy stabilizer. No costly or complicated pieces of gear. Just my camera and I.
Recording steady footage with a handheld camera is challenging, but not impossible. Over the years, there are several tricks I’ve come across that have helped me shoot fluid videos this way. Here are the five best tips I’ve learned for shooting great looking handheld footage.
1. Shoot with a wide lens
You need to shoot with the widest possible lens you can, which is the most important tip you need to know. The wider your lens, the less noticeable any shakes are.
A wide lens will not eliminate movement, but this tactic will make movement appear less exaggerated.
Currently, I’m shooting with the URSA Mini Pro. My go-to handheld lenses on this camera are either the Rokinon 16mm T2.2 or, for a slightly more narrower shot, a Rokinon 24mm T1.5. But, there are times when I will also use a Rokinon 35mm.
2. Shoot with a high frame rate
The second trick you need to try is shooting your videos with a high frame rate. Four out of five times when I’m shooting handheld, I shoot the videos at 60 frames per second.
As above, this technique will not eliminate shaky footage, but it does deemphasize it.
Shooting in slow motion takes the emphasis off of the shakes and jitters of shooting handheld by slowing them down, which makes them look more purposeful and elegant.
3. Shoot with proper form
When I’m shooting with the URSA Mini Pro, I will often bend my knees a bit and cradle the camera near the center of my body. This position creates a strong foundation, and it also allows for multiple points of contact between you and your camera. Generally speaking, the more points of contact you have with your camera, the better you can stabilize your shot, which will lead to more steady footage.
If you’re shooting with a smaller camera—not a cinema camera—like a DSLR or a Micro Four Thirds camera, consider attaching a strap to your camera, placing the camera around your neck, and then using the strap to create tension. To do this, you will need to push the camera as far away as you can in front of your face, which will help you to stabilize your camera and eliminate a lot of the shakes and jitters that plague the lighter and more compact camera setups.
4. Use image stabilization
Many new cameras, like the Panasonic GH5 and the Sony a6500, have image stabilization built directly into them. What is more, many lenses also have an image stabilization option you can use.
Whether you use image stabilization in your camera or lens, both options will help you minimize the small shakes and jitters of handheld shooting.
5. Look into a warp stabilizer
The four tips above will help you shoot great looking footage. But, if you’re looking for a little extra smoothness, then I recommend you look into purchasing a Warp Stabilizer within Adobe Premiere Pro.
The Warp Stabilizer comes free with an Adobe Premiere subscription, so you don’t have to pay extra for a third-party plugin. This plugin does a great job of taking footage that may have a little shake and making it buttery-smooth.
Do you like the clips we used as examples above?
Do you think they would work well for a project you’re working on?
If you answered yes to either one of these questions, then you need to know that you can download these clips instantly and use them royalty-free in any of your creative projects.
You can get these clips at a new platform we built called Storytape.
Storytape is a stock footage site where you can get UNLIMITED access to thousands of cinematic video clips shot in 4K ProRes. We add more than 1,000 new clips every month, and there are no download limits.
Other stock footage sites will charge you anywhere between $200–$500 for just one single 10-second 4K clip. However, at Storytape, you can get access to thousands of 4K clips shot with our high-end cinema cameras for an affordable monthly cost.
Are you ready to get started?
Visit Storytape to check out the video clips we have to offer for your creative projects.