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Originally published July 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 19, 2009 at 7:12 AM

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How to shoot vacation videos with your camera

Here are some tips for shooting good-looking vacation videos.

San Francisco Chronicle

For digital-camera owners who want to use the video setting, here are a few tips:

HOLD STILL: Nothing screams "amateur," and is more annoying to watch, than shaky shots. The lighter the camera, the harder it is to keep it in a fixed position. Hold on tight, use both hands, prop your body against something sturdy or put the camera on a tripod or some other surface and step away during the shot.

BETTER SOUND: The lousy microphones in most point-and-shoot cameras are only a couple of steps up from paper cups with string. If you're recording someone talking, get close, preferably indoors, far from humming machines and miles from even a hint of wind.

KEEP SHOTS SHORT: Watch TV for 30 minutes and odds are you won't see a single shot longer than eight seconds. Why, then, do people shoot five minutes of one angle of a waterfall or monument? Keep shots to less than 10 seconds (to be edited later to no more than five seconds), and take multiple shots of an interesting subject from several distances and angles.

LEAVE ZOOMING OUT: The human eye wasn't meant to telescope, so zooms will come across as unnatural. Unless you're a seasoned videographer, use cuts instead, jumping from a distant shot to a close-up.

DON'T STAND SO FAR: The subjects of a shot should be obvious, which usually means getting closer. People? Fill the screen with faces and gestures. If someone's head is the size of a dime on your TV screen, you were too far away.

SHOOT NOW, SPEAK LATER: If you need to narrate your video, take notes and record your commentary at home. Most basic editing programs allow you to add a voice-over — which gives you time to say something more intelligent than, "I'm now pointing the camera at that tall building. Um, honey? Which building is that again? Oh, never mind."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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