Cross posted from the TimeScape Media Forums
Automatic video cameras are great. But they’re not as smart as they should be. Otherwise they’d yell at you if you were shooting someone with a background twice as bright as the light on the person’s face.
Until they make ‘em that smart, you’ll just need to remember to do a few simple things.
1) Zoom in on your subject and lock your focus. When you’ve got a set shot the camera doesn’t always know what you want to focus on. So the auto focus sometimes will bounce between you subject and something in the background. You may not notice when looking into a small viewfinder, but when the video is big enough for all to see it looks like your video is wacky.
2)While you’re close up on a face locking your focus, lock your exposure too. There’s nothing worse than trying to pick out someone’s face when it looks like a black blob against a very bright background.
3) Use a microphone. Yes, camera mics are getting better… but they still pick up a lot of extra noise you don’t want and not enough of the noise you do want. Audio is more than half of the video experience (try watching a video with the sound turned off and you’ll see what I mean).