Lights, Camera, Baby!
"They tell directors, 'Don't work with babies -- you never know what will happen,' " says Angela Galletta, a Hollywood filmmaker and producer. But when it's your baby, that's part of the fun! Some video tips for you, Mommy Spielberg:
Design a set
Create a staging area where your baby feels comfortable -- perhaps a corner of a playroom or her bedroom, suggests Galletta. The space should be bright and free of clutter, with just a few toys that engage her. Consider investing in a small tripod or camera holder. This will help you keep the cam steady -- and it will let you get in the frame sometimes too!
Plot it out
Make a list of all your little starlet's expressions and habits that you want to preserve for posterity, so you and your Mommy brain will remember to record them. Of course you want plenty of feature films headlining Baby, but include a supporting cast whenever you can, says Kimberley Blaine, executive producer of the web series TheGoToMom.tv. Get lots of footage of older relatives -- Grandma giving your guppy a bath or a usually stern grandfather breaking character and being silly with his grandkid. And, needless to say, make an appearance yourself every now and then.
Don't forget the sound
The most successful videos aren't all about the visual effects (hence the Oscars for sound editing). When your baby begins to babble, record only the audio at times. "Point the camera toward the cover of a book or a photo of your child, then sit and play," Galletta says. You can even edit this audio over something else -- say, footage of your sweet pea rolling around in the yard. Make sure there's no background noise, like the hum of the refrigerator or your neighbor's barking dog.
Have fun editing
Experiment with the Windows Live Movie Maker or Apple iMovie editing software that probably came free with your computer. "They're intuitive programs," Galletta says. Running through a tutorial can also provide inspiration (in addition to what came with your software, there are loads on YouTube).Try mixing movies from different cameras too: a camcorder, a pocket video recorder, or your phone. "It creates a sense of time passage when you have that variation in look and location," Galletta says. If the quality of a clip is poor, make it black and white, Blaine suggests: "Then it looks vintage-y."
Save as much of your footage as you can
"Edited pieces are good to show family and friends, but the raw footage is what you'll really cherish," Blaine says. "It's the reality show of your life. Don't trash clips because you think, 'Oh, I didn't look good.' Your children will want to see you in your bathrobe!" Download videos every month and back them up to an external hard drive. If you plan to delete them from your computer, save them to DVDs.
Quick video tips
1 Turn off your camera's date stamp: It's distracting when you watch the video. Instead, announce the date when you begin.
2 When filming, follow the rules of photography: Find a spot with great light, and duck down to shoot from your child's point of view.
3 Go all artsy! Pan your camera into the scene; it will create a blurry transition that's effective when you're editing clips together.
4 Narrate. Don't be shy -- use a silly voice or a funny accent if it feels more playful. If you hate it, you can always go back and record over it.