What shots do you need to tell the story with the resources you have? What gear do you need to get these shots? Many problems can be avoided by simply having a solid game plan before you arrive on location and before you press ‘record’.
Not Recording Enough Footage
When Hollywood movies are made, they will have hundreds of hours of footage and takes that will be condensed into a two-hour movie. Make sure you capture enough variety that you have options in the editing room. You don’t want to be stuck with a bad take or interruption that forces you to use subpar footage.
Always have your microphones as close as possible to the subject or sound source. Use lavalier mics on interview subjects or have a boom microphone just out of frame to capture crisp, clean sound. The microphone built into your camera should never be used! Avoid using an on-camera shotgun microphone unless your subject is right next to you. Great quality sound will separate you from amateurs!
Don’t simply crank up your ISO (light sensitivity) setting to compensate for poor lighting conditions. DIY lights are a cheap option to overcome low-light. On-camera LED lights can help illuminate your subject at night or in a dark room. LED light panels are one of the best options if you can spend $200-600. If you are on a shoestring or no-budget project, buy two or three 150-300 watt lights (with metal cans) at your local hardware store.
Wrong Camera Settings
If your Shutter Speed is not a good match to your frame rate you can get choppy-looking footage. This is great for action sequences, but not what most clients want. If your Aperture number is too high (too much in focus) you won’t get backgrounds that fall into soft focus and put attention on your subject. If your ISO speed is too high, your footage will have digital noise and may not be usable at all.