Tips For Filming A Documentary (To Instantly Make It Better!)

raleigh video production company using a video camera to shoot a documentary

Filming a documentary can be fruitless if you choose the wrong Raleigh video production team. Documentaries require a team to capture every moment of a story with precision. Seasoned videographers must use appropriate techniques and tools with little room for error. As a result, your footage will either unveil a powerful narrative or become more stale than a year-old potato chip.

To create a great documentary, we will reveal a few simple fixes you can use.

In the process, we’ll cover some of your most pressing filming questions.

Some of these are:

  • How do you plan for a documentary?
  • How do you film a documentary?
  • What are the best ways to improve my documentary?

Like usual, our Raleigh video production team at Blueforest Studios wants to get you started with the essential tips.

raleigh video production documentary hero gif

How should I plan my documentary?

Planning is the first step to making a great documentary. The main components of your plan should include story direction, and the tools you’ll use to capture it. By thinking ahead, you’ll avoid many mistakes that plague inexperienced documentary filmmakers.

You’ll want to take time to identify the key features that will drive your viewer’s experience.

To get you started, we’ll explore a few of the basics with you.

Plan your story – You should always be filming with your end goal in mind. You can do this by using the “Rule of One,” meaning “what’s the one thing I want the audience to take away from this?”

Focus on your hero A documentary should be structured around a specific character’s journey. You should choose who your film is following, focusing on their challenges or unique perspective. Anyone involved, even the filmmaker, could be your hero.

Spend and work smart– You’ll want to suit up with the right tools for the job (within your financial means, of course). Focus on using gear suitable for your filming situations. Equip yourself with enough storage space and battery life to last your entire shoot. Finally, make sure you’re getting great sound with quality mics.

How should I film my documentary?

Filming a documentary should focus on visually telling your subject’s story. By carefully using film techniques, you can isolate your audience’s attention towards your narrative. Furthermore, you should be protecting and organizing your footage, in-field and out, to avoid film loss.

For a successful documentary shoot, you should always apply basic practical methods for creating and storing film.

To keep you from making silly mistakes, here are a few of our biggest tips.

“Rule of Thirds” – This is the film process of separating your frame into thirds to place objects of interest at the intersections. It’s used to draw attention to the important focal points, like eyes or key objects.

Using “leading lines” – You can use this film technique by positioning natural lines in a frame to guide the audience’s focus towards your subject. These “lines” can be environmental features like sidewalks, railings, or the edges of a table.

Backups! Data copies are essential since you can easily lose data, both in-field, in-studio, and anywhere between. Whether by camera damage or accidental deletions, you should use an external hard drive or some form of cloud backup.

Stay organized – If you can’t find your files, you can’t use them. Set up a file naming system that keeps your files in order and ready to use. In addition, you should label and organize your physical data drives so you can find those as needed.

What’s the most important way to improve my documentary?

Your documentary is only as strong as its focus on the main subject’s journey. Always keep this story in mind as you guide your audience’s attention. Anticipate any peaks and valleys in this narrative. Finally, remain aware of what tools you’ll need to best capture the tone of your story.

In summary, your film will be better if you put visual story at the forefront of your production.

Ultimately, the plot can only be as compelling as the ways you capture it. We at Blueforest Studios specialize in storytelling, so contact our raleigh video production team today–we would be glad to have a chat about taking your documentary beyond expectations.

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