Make your own family films

Caroline Cassidy
Filming from home
Filming from home

Pic: Getty

With cameras and smartphones all now including video capabilities, it has never been easier to capture your memories on film, and for movie-making newbies, there is plenty of software on the market to help you turn your footage into a treasured family film.

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What equipment?
Huge lumbering video cameras are no longer a necessity for home film-makers. In fact, if you're not aiming for perfect picture and sound quality, smartphones do the job, come in a pocket-sized package and are ideal for spur of the moment movie-making.

The top-end phones from the likes of Samsung and Apple produce excellent pictures and video, but if you're after a phone that's camera-centric, the Nokia Lumia 1020, which comes with Optical Image Stabilisation, and Sony's recently-released Xperia Z2 captures your movies in 4K video. Picture and sound quality on smartphones is unlikely to match dedicated devices, but they're perfect for capturing candid footage, and you can always add your own soundtrack if the sound quality is poor.

At the other end of the scale, the best camcorders now capture video in high definition and enable users to use fully automated systems that take the hard work out of filming. For just under £80, Sony's Bloggie PM5KW is a pocket-sized camcorder which captures full HD video, and includes a rotating lens for turning the camera on yourself, and a 360-degree lens for panoramic views. Of course camcorders come in a wide variety of prices, but for fast-paced action you can't beat the GoPro HD Hero 2 at £274. Waterproof, shockproof and fully HD capable, it'll record anything, any time, anywhere.

In between, digital cameras also come equipped with some amazing video capabilities. For example, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 can film full HD footage at a cost of just £289, while the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (£275) is also HD-equipped and shoots in 24 frames per second for a true movie look.

Filming tips
Whatever your chosen device, before you start filming in earnest, it's wise to familiarise yourself with its capabilities. Even smartphones offer a number of settings that can vary the lighting, resolution and effects, so give yourself the best chance of capturing your favourite moments by playing around with the equipment first. If you're struggling to get to grips with it, YouTube is an invaluable source of instructional videos.

Thereafter, you can let your creativity loose, combining wide shots with close-up action, or switching from background filming to allow for a totally natural response from your 'stars' to straight-to-camera talking. Don't be afraid of trying new things - whatever doesn't work can be easily removed in the editing process.

Editing tips
Thanks to the rise and rise of both camcorders and smartphones, editing software for amateurs is readily available and easy to use. Both Microsoft and Apple cater for the keen amateur film-maker with Window's Live Movie Maker and iMovie respectively. These allow you to simply drag and drop your video clips into a 'project', and thereafter you are able to combine your various clips, altering their individual length as necessary. Both include transitions between clips, including wipes and dissolves, and adding a soundtrack is a piece of cake.

Of course there are other products available separately, but these often come already loaded on laptops or desktop computers, so they're a great way for beginners to make that first foray into movie-making.

Making your own home movies couldn't be simpler these days, so why not let your inner Scorsese loose and be free to relive your most treasured family memories whenever you choose.

Are you an avid home movie-maker? What tips would you give to beginners? Leave your comments below...