Capturing precious moments has become as common as the cell phones we hold in our pockets, but is the cell phone the best device for capturing those moments? More often than not, the answer to this question is no. Yes, it's convenient to pull out your phone and use it to capture that moment, but your phone's camera does not record video of the same quality a camcorder. So what is a camcorder?
In this article, we will answer the question "what is a camcorder," discuss what features it might have, and give you some tips for creating a successful recording. We all want to make sure that we get the best video possible for all of life's most precious moments. They only happen once, and it's easy to fall victim to a beginners' skill set. We want you to be set up for success. Follow our tips and you will be well on your way to creating great videos that capture life's precious moments.
What is a Camcorder?
Let's start with clearly establishing what is a camcorder. In short, it is an electronic device that contains both a video camera and recording device. Generally, these are small, portable devices that can record live video and audio. Camcorders support playback of the captured video through accessory electronics, such as a TV or computer.
Often you can playback video on the camcorder itself or by attaching it to a display. However, with the proliferation of video editing software, most like to transfer their captured video to their computer and create a final video product with added effects and edit clips.
Camcorders are diverse in their design and functionality but standard features usually include a display screen, a built-in microphone, optical and/or digital zoom, and built-in memory or a memory card slot.
The benefit of using a camcorder is that you will get higher quality video than you could get if you use your phone for recording video. Cell phones have come a long way in the quality of video they record, but they still can't match up a device that is designed solely for that purpose. Camcorders have larger and more specialized lenses that are designed for capturing video under a variety of circumstances and lighting conditions. This allows them to capture better quality video than a phone can, which you'll appreciate viewing at a later date.
Tips for Successful Recording
First-time users of camcorders often make the mistake of recording unusable video. This can be a frustrating experience when you've invested in a high-quality camcorder to record those precious moments in life. We've collected some tips on the best practices for creating a successful recording so that your money and time investment is not lost: or those special moments you want to record!
There are a lot of simple things that can be done to prevent low-quality video from being produced. Most are as simple as making adjustments to your camcorder's settings and others have to do with how you go about using the camcorder. We have outlined the best practices so that you can get started right away with recording high-quality video without making a bunch of beginners' mistakes.
Watch the Zoom
Most camcorders are equipped with an optical and digital zoom function. The optical zoom uses the camcorder's lenses to enlarge what is seen and the digital zoom enlarges the pixels of the image. If you use the digital zoom, this can create distortions in your video image and make it less enjoyable to watch. The best practice is to avoid using the digital zoom. In fact, most camcorders have a setting where you can disable the digital zoom. We recommend you enable this setting so that the digital zoom is not accidentally used.
Another best practice regarding the zoom feature is to use it sparingly. It can be tempting to zoom in and out on what your recording to get a close-up and wide shot but often this rapid zooming in and out creates a sense of nausea for your viewer. This ruins the experience of the moment you're trying to share. If you need to use the zoom, focus on making it a slow and steady zoom.
Bring a Tripod
Most camcorders are built to be held in your hand, but this does not mean doing so will create a great viewing experience. It's easy to start out holding the camcorder steady and capturing great video, but then get either tired or distracted so that you stop holding it steady. It will become more difficult to hold the camcorder at the same height if you're tired.
Further, when you stand your body naturally moves up and down as you breathe, and when you get distracted, you may stop noticing this. This creates a jumping effect on film and can make it look like you are jumping up and down while recording. Like too much zoom, this can make it difficult for viewers to enjoy the film.
You can (and should) enable image stabilization to combat this issue, but that will only go so far. The easiest fix to this problem is to purchase a tripod. Most are inexpensive and of high quality. Using a tripod will create a better viewing experience and won't tire out your arms. It will give you the freedom to capture the best possible video for viewing experience.
Skip the Special Effects
Lots of camcorders today have special effects built-in. Sure, fancy fade-ins and fade-outs look cool, but these effects and others are better added in during the post-filming editing phase. The built-in effects will change the original video file.
For example, let's say you record your child's birthday party in black and white. If you use the built-in special effect, the original video file will be saved in black and white and that will be the only way you'll be able to view that recording. If you record it in color and add the black and white effect in during editing, then you'll have the option to remove that effect. It won't be permanent because the original file is in color.
This goes for all effects (e.g. fade-in, transitions, lighting, etc.). In the editing phase, things can be easily added and removed, but in the recording phase you want to get raw video. It is much harder to add or remove an effect once the event has been recorded and saved as a file.
Turn on the Lights
Most camcorders were not built to record in the dark or low-light settings. In fact, recoding in these conditions will often result in lower video quality. The best practice is to turn on the lights whenever possible: as many as available to you. This will improve the video quality and allow you to see what you are recording. Having a well-lit subject is an important component of creating a viewable end product.
Get a Microphone
Camcorders come with a built-in microphone, but often these produce low-quality audio. If your camcorder has a port, it is advantageous to purchase a small lavaliere microphone. This microphone can clip on to the subject's clothing and produce better audio quality. It is an inexpensive option and will greatly improve your audio quality for your recording.
Shoot Extra Video
Camcorders often have a delay from the time you press the record button and the time the camcorder actually starts recording. This means that you want to make sure you give yourself extra time when you start a recording. For example, hit the button and wait for confirmation that the video is being recorded before your subject begins speaking.
Likewise, give yourself time in the end before you stop recording. At the end of the day, it is much better to have too much video. You can always edit out the pieces you don't want or need, but it is much harder to add in pieces after the event has been recorded.
Knowing what is a camcorder and how best to use one are important factors in being able to capture life's precious moments. We want you to be successful in capturing those moments. These tips are specifically targeted for people who are new to using a camcorder but want to get the best quality video. Beginner's mistakes do happen, but by implementing these tips you will be on your way to creating high-quality video content.
Remember before using your camcorder for the first time go through and customize the settings. Turn off features like the digital zoom that will create video distortions. Turn on features like image stabilization. Even when using a tripod, it's helpful to have this feature turned on. Forget about special effects until the editing phase of production and turn on as many lights as you can. Only specialized (and expensive) camcorders are designed to record things in low light conditions.
Lastly, don't forget the microphone for great audio and always record a little bit extra. It's better to have too much video that can be edited than to not have enough.