In this video, learn how to get good results from any camera.
- So you've chosen your camera. Now what? Well, if you're going to invest in one other piece of equipment, make it a tripod. Handheld footage can look good if you know exactly what you're doing, but if you want your work to look professional, if you want to build a setup pretty much anywhere, getting a tripod can be a really really good investment. You can even get tripods specifically for phones. There are entire courses dedicated to cinematography, so we can't hope to even scratch the surface here, really, but what I'm going to do is focus in on the absolute essentials that you need to know in order to make your videos look good.
So, in terms of framing, the first thing we want to cover is something called the rule of thirds. This is a technique for mentally slicing up your frame. Like this. A tendency we all have, whether we're taking photos or shooting videos, is to position our subject dead center in the frame, with lots of space around the edges. So, for this shot, instead of featuring the cathedral right in the middle, I'll reframe into the natural lines and feature points in the shot, aligned with the rule of thirds guides.
It ends up filling the frame in a much more visually-satisfying manner. Go and try it out. The rule of thirds works for stills as well as videos, so just grab your nearest camera and go and do a few tests, lining up shots according to the rule of thirds and see how it helps you determine where to put your camera and where to point it. So let's talk about people. There are two ways of filming people that you're likely to be using, depending on the type of project that you're working on. So number one is the lecture. This is where you're the narrator, and you're giving information directly to the audience.
Much like I'm doing in these videos, talking to you. Notice how I'm looking straight into the camera. It's a very direct, one-to-one conversation between me and you. And then, on the other hand, you have the second way of doing this, which is the interview mode. Note how the framing is slightly different this time. For a start, I'm off to the side of the frame, and I'm looking over here, past the camera to something behind. This gives the impression that I'm actually interacting with a third party that we currently can't see. This is very different than more a direct form of communication where I look into the lens.
So, these are both completely valid ways to shoot people, but it depends what kind of impression you're trying to give. Are you trying to partake information directly to the audience, in which case, you want to be fairly central and looking at the camera? Or is it more of an exploration of a subject, in which case, you might have several people talking around different points, like this? Now, one thing to bear in mind is that you don't want to accidentally frame up this way 'round, because the lack of space between my face and the edge of the frame makes for uncomfortable viewing. The fact that there's no space here and there's lots of empty space behind me creates a kind of nervous framing.
This is why horror films will quite often have this kind of framing, where people are creeping through a haunted house. Okay, so, a quick word on camera height. Don't put it too high, because then you'll be looking down on your subject, a bit like this, and when the camera is above your subject, it makes them look small and powerless. If you're shooting the CEO, that's probably not the look you're going for. On the other hand, you don't want to put low either, 'cause then you end up with a framing a little bit like this, where you're looking straight up people's nostrils, and the first rule of making videos is, don't make your subjects look weird, because they won't come back and make anything else with you.
The specifics of how a camera works will vary from model to model, but there are some common settings that you want to hunt for. So if you're not sure where any of these are, grab your user manual and look them up. First up, it's almost always a good idea to switch to manual control if you can. This means you're in charge, so you won't get any weird surprises when the camera's brain decides that it knows better. This can be especially useful if you're shooting something like a talking head, 'cause the last thing you want is for the camera to get bored and try refocusing on something else, like the background.
White balance is something which is really easy to forget, but it's very important. This is how the camera knows what pure white should look like, which will vary depending on the type of lighting. Getting this right is crucial because it then determines the accuracy of all the other colors. Most cameras have presets for clear sunlight, cloudy weather, and artificial lightning. Always set this manually to make sure you get correct color reproduction throughout your shots. On some cameras, you'll be able to set the ISO.
Ramping it up lets you shoot in darker places, but your video will start to get increasingly grainy. Generally speaking, you want your ISO to be as low as possible while still getting the shot that you need. If you're always having to set your ISO really high, then you probably need to think about getting more light on the scene or moving to a different location. Shutter speed determines how long the camera's shutter is open when capturing a frame of video. High shutter speeds create a staccato, very sharp look and feel.
Check out these cars going past. These were shot at a high shutter speed, and just note how crisp they are and how little motion blur there is. Low shutter speeds, on the other hand, let more light in, which can be useful in dark environments, but because the shutter is open for longer, they result in more motion blur. As a quick rule of thumb, if your want your video to look as cinematic as possible, aim for a shutter speed which is double that of your framerate. Next up, though, is aperture. Now, aperture can be a little tricky to get your head around.
This is the opening on the front of the camera, and it can open or close like an iris to let in a different amount of light, depending on what you need it to do. A small aperture number, also known as an f-stop, actually means your aperture is opened way up, letting in as much light as possible. A side effect of having this big opening is that it makes focusing harder, 'cause only a very specific distance range can be in focus. This is called the depth of field. This is why focusing in darker environments can be trickier. You have to open the aperture way up to let more light in, so your depth of field then becomes shallower.
This can, of course, look really lovely if you do it right. A larger aperture number or f-stop means a smaller aperture hole. That results in a more focused beam of light coming into the camera, which increases the depth of field, but also reduces the amount of available light. This means you can only really use it in very bright places, such as outdoors, but the benefit is that everything will be in focus. If you're on a simple smartphone, you might only have a single adjustable control, commonly called exposure.
The camera will then be automatically adjusting the ISO, shutter speed and aperture to achieve the specified exposure. If you can switch into a more professional mode, where you can select each of those things individually, it is worth the extra effort. We can't really go any further without talking about lighting. Understanding the fundamentals of lightning will help you get pretty videos, and you might not even need to spend any money to do it.
- Getting started with HitFilm Express
- Setting up a camera and lighting
- Making a shooting checklist
- Shooting on a green screen
- Transferring from camera to computer
- Converting video formats
- Importing videos into HitFilm
- Using essential editing techniques
- Using multiple tracks
- Making color corrections
- Working with keyframes and composite shots
- Creating titles and lower-third captions
- Exporting and sharing video