10 Things that you need to know about being on camera

Over the last 35 years I have worked with everyone from Presidents, and heads of large corporations, to professional actors and newbies who have never been in front of the camera before. Since time is money, it is in everyone’s best interest to make the shoot go as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Here are 10 things that will make your shoot go easier, and actually allow you to enjoy yourself.

1. Stay away from wearing herringbone patterns, whites, bright colors, and anything that is the color of your blue or green screen. This will avoid problems with the camera capturing your performance. Pastels are best, as they allow your face to be the brightest thing on the screen, which is where you want your audiences attention. Also, leave your noisy jewelry and starched shirts at home unless you want to hear tinkling metal and crackling sounds in your audio.

2. Hydrate your body and avoid caffeine, nicotine, stimulants, painkillers and alcohol, as these will result in dry mouth, shakiness, or droopy-eyes syndrome. You don’t want to look like a nervous Chihuahua, or drunk/ stoned person with your eyes half closed.

3. Get a good nights sleep on the night before your shoot to avoid having bags under your eyes, and have a good breakfast with protein so that your brain has what it needs to function properly. Try to reduce your stress levels by allowing plenty of time to get to the shoot, and try to remain relaxed once you get there. When you are safely on the set, remember to turn off your cell phone, so that it doesn’t ring in the middle of your performance.

4. Know that people are going to be touching you. The audio guy will be wiring you with a microphone, makeup would be doing their thing, and sometimes someone will be moving you into the correct position. Freaking out will only mark you as an amateur, and make everyone’s job more difficult. Just relax and go with the flow.

5. If you are using a Teleprompter and wish to add-lib, tell your Teleprompter operator to stop scrolling when you leave the script, and to start scrolling again when you come back to the script. This will allow you the freedom to add to the script without making the prompter operator crazy. Be sure to check with the director before doing this, or they will be stopping every time that you leave the script.

6. This is supposed to be fun, so smile and enjoy the process. The director will be looking at your energy level, and you might feel like a grinning idiot while giving a performance that results in a recorded image that just looks normal. Try to be a dynamic person, and imagine your energy flowing out of you, carrying your message to the camera. It is also helpful to rehearse this way in front of a mirror, and then family members to build your confidence before the shoot.

7. Try to be yourself so that your facial expressions and energy levels will match what you are talking about. Smiles for happy content, a serious look for serious content, and even a sad look for sad content.

Try to keep the energy in your delivery cranked up, no matter what type of content you are delivering. Be interesting, powerful and informative, with your body language and facial expressions in sync with your content.

8. Relax, your brain can’t worry about your performance and remember your lines at the same time. Also, most people cannot keep their emotions out of their eyes and face, so just be as confident and relaxed as you would be speaking your lines to a friend. It’s only television, not life-and-death. You can do this.

9. Know that even most professional actors don’t get it right in one take, so don’t let multiple takes freak you out. With a newbie, I generally consider the first 30 min. to be throw-away video. The way to beat your fear is to relax, which is what must happen to get a usable performance. The longer it takes you to relax, the longer you are going to be there, and the more stressful everything is going to be as you run out of time.

10. Sometimes the director will playback some of your footage to show you what you are doing. Just remember that most newbies, and even some professional actors, hate the way that they look on camera, so don’t let this worry you. If it is truly bad, the director will tell you, so you need to trust them on this… and just relax and have fun.



About david

I have been in the Audio/Video production business for over 35 years, and I still enjoy using all of the latest production gear, and reviewing it.
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