Get the Memorable Shot
Birthday parties appear perfectly harmless, but for the poor soul assigned the task of videotaping the event, those once-a-year celebrations can become video nightmares.
I learned this the hard way after volunteering to be videographer for a birthday party with ten 5-year-olds. Getting little kids to sit still for mom than two seconds, especially after consuming mouthfuls of sugar, is one monumental task.
If stabilizing the subject isn't difficult enough, there are also those traditional birthday shots, such as the candle blowout or present opening segment, that require special preparation and positioning on the part of the camcorder operator. And, in case you haven't yet tried it, there are a host of other problems that we'll cover shortly.
The birthday party shoot absolutely must be preplanned. Of course, if you've got video-editing equipment, you can reconstruct the video in post-production at a later date. Even so, you'll see the need to plan the various scenes to be shot at the party. If you don't shoot a particular moment, no amount of editing later on will put it into the video.
The target time for the birthday party videotape should be somewhere between five and ten minutes, unless of course there's something really exciting or important that takes five so minutes itself. In most cases, birthday parties are pretty routine, unless you're a 5-year-old, and it's your birthday.
If you're planning on doing in-camera editing, the most critical part of planning out the sequence of events is getting the beginning title on tape first. Then, everything afterward should fall into the same sequential order as the birthday party unfolds.