Becoming a better videographer takes practice and diligence. It’s like any other skill, you need to practice it often and monitor your learning curve.
Videography only deviates from other skills in its measurability; there are no tests that will reaffirm that your training pays of. Some people may like one video more than another. They might even dislike one you put great effort in, and felt good about. But fear not. By following these 5 simple steps, you will take your video production skills to the next level.
1. Plan Ahead
I can’t stress this enough. Scouting the location, charging batteries, setting up a shotlist, deciding on a “feel”, are all examples of things you need to take care of before the day you’re scheduled to shoot. If you get on location and you encounter a problem you can’t deal with, you and your client loose time, money and patience. Being low on time also result in a worse final result because you missed a detail in the chaos caused by being unprepared.
Also, if you think you have everything ready for a shoot, we all know how the universe likes to toss problems your way. Therefore, be 1 step ahead at all times.
2. Bring a BIG Screen
When it comes to screens, size really does matter!
Whether you are shooting on a DSLR or a Camcorder, the screen or viewfinder leaves room for errors in both exposure and focus. Pay extra attention to this tip if you are just starting out experimenting with light.
A more experienced videographer is more likely to catch bad lighting just by looking at the subject, and let’s face it: There is always a more experienced videographer.
The big screen also allows you to interact with your subject more. Instead of being trapped inside the viewfinder, you have more wiggle room and can pay more attention to the aesthetics during the shoot.
3. Audio, Audio, Audio
When you’re planning and setting up a shoot, it is important to miss the second most important aspect of filmmaking. You guessed it, Audio!
Having good audio throughout your film makes it more dynamic and engaging. Therefore, invest the same amount of time as you do setting up the visuals as you do setting up the audio. Make sure you’re audio levels don’t peak too high (I usually keep it around -10dB to be safe) as this will completely butcher the quality of your overall video.
Find a good, noise-free location to shoot. If you don’t have one,
4. Experiment With Lenses
Whether you shoot with an entry level DSLR or a professional camcorder, you want to experiment with different types of lenses. A variation of focal lengths and functionality gives you more options on your shoots.
We recently invested in an old Broadcast Style lens and mounted it on our DSLR (YES that is possible) to add a smooth zoom element to our videos.
5. It’s all Lights
Photography, Videography and even Vision itself are similar. Everything boils down to light. In the end, it doesn’t matter how well planned your shoot is, or how good your equipment is if you don’t have – or haven’t invested enough time in – lights.
Light can mean light or day for your videos – Figuratively and literally. Make sure your light setup reflects the overall mood you want your video to convey. Do you want your video to have an edge? Drop the diffusion filters. Do you want it do be dreamy? Add extra diffusion.
Start every shoot by assessing where whether or not you want to block the natural light. If you have lots of lighting equipment, I reccomend that you block out any source of natural light and start from scratch. This also keeps you from mixing the light temperatures in your video.