Can you transform amateur video into something which looks professional?

Yes you can. It is possible to transform amateur footage into something fairly watchable, but it depends on the quality of the original footage.

The tv news channels do it often with user generated content (UGC). What they do of course is edit the footage provided by the viewer into a brief 20 second clip. Of course it’s never going to be as good as if their own news crew had been there.

As professional video producers we’d normally prefer to be there ourselves and edit our own footage. We’ve produced numerous videos for our client The Stuart Holmes Hair & Beauty Spa however when they attended the Hairdressers Journal Awards (HJA) it was not practicable for us to be on hand to capture Stuart’s moment as he accepted the award for Salon of the Year. Not least because HJA had their own film crew in attendance.

The workround was Stuart took his own video camera and a team member shot the video as the awards were announced. Stuart then passed the footage to us to see if we could transform it into something watchable!

Here’s the result…

So, when it’s not possible to have the video professionally shot and you need to use amateur footage here are some tips to enable a professional editor / producer to transform it for you.

Our Top 5 Tips

1. Shoot more than you need
– This will enable the editor to choose the best bits.
– Don’t be tempted to “self edit” by stopping and starting. If in doubt leave the camera rolling.

2. Try and keep the camera still
– If it has an image stabilisation function switch it on.
– Resist the urge to pan from side to side or up and down.
– If sitting at a table rest your elbows on the table to steady the camera.
– Consider investing in a basic tripod. Or you could try a mini tripod. Search Amazon or E-Bay. You don’t need to spend a fortune.

3. Don’t zoom in and out
– This is called “tromboning” and will make it diffcult for the pro editor to edit your footage.
– Use the zoom but do so to frame the shot and remember any camera shake is magnified the more you zoom in.

4. If the lighting is poor adjust the exposure
– Some domestic camcorders may have a function to manually adjust the exposure settings. Don’t overdo it though or the picture could become over exposed.

5. Use an external mic for close up speech recording
– The internal mics on domestic camcorders are not that great so by using an external mic you’ll improve the quality of speech recording.
– You can find a good range of external mics at Maplins
– Note: For the above video the camera’s internal mic was the best option as it picked up ambient sound from the venue’s PA system.