Correct exposure is the simplest way to achieve a good-looking piece of film. The easiest way to do this would be through a good viewfinder and monitor – especially if you work with a manual focus.
Video cameras all have some form of viewfinder or LCD screen to keep track of what the camera picks up. Higher-end cameras like the Electronic News Gathering (ENG) camera come with a shoulder mount and large viewfinder that sits at eye level. Smaller LCD screens in video DSLRs also do the trick to give a sharp image.
In any viewing option, be it through a sharp pixel screen or viewfinder, some compositional basics apply to help achieve perfect focus.
Many cameras come with a grid overlay tool to help arrange your shot. Choose from a center marker or a “rule-of-thirds” grid to place elements in appropriate quadrants, while horizontal and vertical grids help keep handheld shots steadier.
Additionally, most cameras support an adjustable zebra pattern. This is a special striped overlay on parts of the video where light levels exceed preset levels. This helps adjust and balance out overexposed areas.
Watch what happens
If your camera is ill equipped, an external monitor may be required. External monitors help the operator or other members of the team to get a glimpse of the action.
Before you get started, check camera outputs and choose a compatible monitor with HDMI, HD-SDI or component HD inputs. If you are lucky enough to work with an expensive broadcast monitor, there should be multiple inputs with signal pass-through. This allows more than one monitor to be hooked up at a time. However, a nice big wallet-friendly HDMI TV would usually do the trick.