Whether you're taking a home video for fun or to enter our Video Contest, here are some quick tips to get the best shots.

Video Contest Baby Crawling

1. Kid-friendly framing

When capturing video of babies and children, you'll want to frame the shot on their level. Remember to crouch, kneel, or sit down when shooting your video entry. To avoid aiming the camera down, try moving down to their level or elevating them up on a table, bed, etc. You can even place the camera on the floor to capture baby's-eye-view.

2. Let your baby do the moving

As tempting as it may be to zoom in and out, or pan side to side, these camera moves can detract from the star of your video. Quick movements will be distracting and can easily result in jerky, out-of-focus video. We encourage you to keep the camera as still as possible. If you must pan or zoom to keep up with baby, make slow, smooth movements.

3. Keep it steady

Avoid shaky video by stabilizing your camera when you shoot. It is best to use a tripod, but if that's not possible try placing the camera on a counter or table or on the floor. Outside you can also use a wall or tree as a brace to help you steady yourself as you shoot.

4. Let there be light

We've all seen videos that are too dark and grainy, or too bright and washed out. If you're shooting indoors make sure the room is bright enough. It is best to shoot during the day with the windows behind you. To avoid a silhouette effect, do not position a bright light behind your child. The light source should always be to your back, but watch out that your shadow does not fall on your subject. The same rule applies when you are shooting outdoors: always have the sun to your back, not behind your child. Again, watch for shadows, and for the best outdoor light shoot in the morning or afternoon, avoiding midday overhead sunlight.

5. Audio -- we hear you

If you're using your camera's built-in microphone, be aware that your voice may be louder than anything else in the video -- so it's best to keep quiet while shooting. If you must prompt baby, speak softly and be aware that your voice will be heard on the video.

**Note: When shooting video for an AmericanBaby.com video contest, eliminate all other audio by turning off the radio and TV. Not only will it be easier to hear your child on the video, you will also have a better chance of escaping disqualification. (Entries that include copyrighted audio must be muted or disqualified from the contest.)

6. Use props

Photographers know the value of entertaining baby with props -- why not try it yourself when you shoot your own videos? Does your child go crazy for a particular stuffed animal, a favorite food, a wind-up toy, or a family pet? Use your imagination! A prop can add the element of surprise, comfort, or joy that could make your video entry a winner!

Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, May 2006.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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