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Newest digital devices let you shoot scary-good video this Halloween

Consumer Reports News: October 22, 2012 06:08 AM

Few events have lighting that's as dramatic or challenging as All Hallows' Eve, better known as Halloween. Whether you're using a camcorder, a digital camera, or even a smart phone, here are some things to consider when you're capturing video of family and friends on this magical night.

First, check out our guide to shooting better video in low light. There are more devices than ever that can capture video, including smart phones—but high definition camcorders and advanced digital cameras do a better job than most other types of device. Find out more on our guide to shooting better low-light video.

Shoot steady. Whether you're shooting during the day or night, do your best to keep a steady hand. Most devices, but particularly camcorders, include robust image-stabilization technology to compensate for the natural tendency of your hands to move slightly, but it's not a panacea: Even slight hand movements will show up in your footage, particularly when you've zoomed in. And jumpy video footage is annoying to watch.

Make sure your camcorder's images stabilization is turned on. If possible, mount your camcorder, camera, or other device on a tripod or monopod, which will greatly reduce jittery-looking video. If you don't have a tripod handy, look for a flat surface on which to place your device. And go easy on zooming quickly in and out of your scene; that can also be distracting.

Focus on composition. There are many components to properly and artfully composing video. But here are a few quick suggestions to get you through shooting on Halloween:

  • Get close to your subjects; either zoom in or walk closer.

  • Vary your angle. When shooting toddlers or babies, crouch down to their level.

  • Look for unusual or intriguing lighting, easy to find on Halloween.

  • Display the grid pattern on your LCD, if your device allows it, to divide your frame so that you can employ the composition "rule of thirds" and avoid placing the subject in the center of the photo.

  • Look for dramatic juxtapositions: unusual visual effects and intriguing abstract forms and shapes next to areas of dark shadows.

After you've captured your video. What should you do with the spooky, scary video of your friends and family? Download it to a computer and use video-editing software to create a fun movie.

For the video embedded below, I used a video-editing software program to edit and trim my video clips (Adobe Premiere Elements 11 and Corel Videostudio Pro x5 are two). I also added a soundtrack of my daughter's voice, which I processed with a reverb effect to give it a ghostly sound. Then I dragged in several effects from the software program, which included warping and solarizing effects.

I also included transitions between the clips that allowed one video clip to transition into another. And last, I exported the video clip to a high definition video file and then uploaded it to YouTube.

Grab great photos of your Halloween boy or ghoul
How to shoot super night photos
To take better photos, use the Rule of Thirds

Terry Sullivan

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