Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Lighting and shooting techniques, part of Learning Video Production and Editing (2015).
- All of that preparation and pre-production we talked about in the previous movie, is about setting you up for creative success when you're shooting. Capturing beautiful video images relies on a lot of the same concepts as photography. You'll need to understand the fundamentals of composition to be able to look through the viewfinder and put together shots that balance objects in the frame, or utilize the concept of negative space to place an emphasis on a featured product or person. And, you're just not focusing on whether the images look pretty, but your job is also to incorporate the grammar of film language to set up each shot appropriately.
After all, a long shot means one thing to a story, and an extreme close-up means something else entirely. Are you using movement in your shots by moving the camera? Or, having subjects move through the frame? These are the ideas you work out in pre-production in writing, and that shot list should drive your shooting schedule. The relationship that a Master Videographer or Cinematographer has with their camera, is very much like the relationship between a musician and their instrument. An inspiring musician would never expect to just jump on stage without practice and earn a standing ovation. And, an aspiring filmmaker shouldn't expect to capture beautiful images without practice.
Understanding the exposure triangle of shutter, speed or angle, f-stop, and ISO or gain, is critical to capture properly exposed images. And knowing these basics will also help you break the rules to get more artistic shots. The controls on your camera will need to become second nature. Video cameras and DSLR cameras that shoot video are very complicated pieces of engineering, with menus and buttons that can overwhelm you in the best of circumstances. The day of the shoot, when you have a client looking over your shoulder, and crew members looking to you for guidance, and models or actors waiting for your direction, is not the time to start learning how to use your camera.
Practicing with your camera to get the kinds of shots your project is going to need, will make you a better shooter when the project starts. Many people starting out with shooting video, often use the light that's around them, called available light, to capture images. Using available light can get you incredibly beautiful and artistic shots, but when the light changes, or is not in the right place for your production, available light can be a production nightmare. Learning how to control and manipulate light will take your shots to the next level and beyond. The most amazing camera in the world is nothing without it.
In fact, great lighting is often the difference between amateur and professional video. Take a look at this example. If we use the basic lighting in the room to shoot with, the result is very flat, with no emphasis on the subject. But, by adding a key light, a little bit of fill to balance out the subject, a backlight to add a bit of edging and definition to their shape, we make that person the most important thing in the frame. Light, composition, and movement are not the only areas to think about. As our author, Anthony Artis, always says, "Getting good sound is at least "as important as a great picture".
Using microphones to capture great audio adds a lot of production value to your project. But, if you get it wrong, it can ruin your production. Getting your audio right can be time consuming and technical, but it's a critical component of your picture. If you understand that you're not stuck with the image you can see through your camera's viewfinder, that you can move objects in the frame, that you can light to create and control emotion, and that audio is at least as important as the picture, then you'll make a huge step in your development as a shooter. The sooner you get there, the sooner you'll be getting more professional and more beautiful results.