Whether you’re an expert filmmaker or a novice camera user, there is always the ability to improve your filming and photography skills. Here we’ll run down 10 of the best camera techniques to bring your shots to life.
1. Steady On
A wobbly shot can ruin what would have otherwise been a great image. Wobbling causes blurs to occur and in a video can really serve to distract the viewer from the actual content. Whether you’re using a state-of-the-art camera or your smartphone, getting a clear shot is imperative and simple camera filming techniques can be employed to steady up. You can keep things steady by using a grid overlay, taking the images in landscape instead of portrait mode, or if you have the budget, why not purchase a gimbal stabilizer or tripod at the very least?
2. Focus Manually
Autofocus can be a very handy camera technique in many cases, however, to maintain maximum control over your shoot, you should opt for a manual focus. In scenes and photos where the light level is low, a manual focus lets you get exactly the image you want to capture that appeals to your own eye, rather than the artificial focus of a camera. What’s more, when you come to add effects to your video in editing there is a better chance of doing it successfully as nothing will be too blurred when it comes to shallow depths.
3. Get The White Balance Right
A top tip when using multiple cameras is to correctly set the white balance across them all. Colour correction can be a challenging experience, especially where colour temperatures are not what you’d expect, so ensuring that your camera is correctly balanced will cut down drastically on editing and gives a more professional appearance to your content.
4. Appropriate Shot Time
To create clean sequences, you need to remember that shots shouldn’t last fewer than five seconds. Too many short shots all together can irritate the viewer as they have to refocus their attention too often, whereas multiple shots of longer than ten seconds can make your viewer lose interest as they’re staring at the same setup for long periods of time, boring them. Ensure your shots are timed accordingly, and if not, they can always be chopped up correctly in post-production.
5. Diversify Your Shots
A plain film that is uninteresting to viewers is likely to be composed of a series of shots which all look and feel the same. Mix it up with camera techniques such as pans, from above crane shots and dollying. All these elements add excitement and movement to the screen which not only captures viewer attention, but also serves to hold it until the next scenes. Even on a smartphone you can create these effects to make your home videos sing.
6. Sound Is Key
If you are doing low budget shooting and don’t have the benefit of an external mic, then you need to pay close attention to where the sound is coming from and direct the camera accordingly. This filming technique is important in softly spoken scenes which won’t be picked up from a few metres back, and likewise traffic can provide noise confusion if you’re filming on the streets.
7. Avoid Zooming
When taking close-ups, a good camera technique for photography and filming is to actually move your body and the camera to where the subject is instead of using the zoom. Not only does the quality of the image drop dramatically on zoom, but if it’s not steady then it can look like a real mess on the screen as it begins to focus or zooms too much or too little.
8. Take Advantage Of The Lighting
Lighting is super important when it comes to both photo and video capture. If you’re working outside taking pictures, then it’s good to know what the weather will be like, how much sunlight there will be or if shadows are going to affect the shot. If you want to control your light, you can use special filters or even buying a small lamp to use outdoors. Inside shots can be fairly limited at nighttime with only artificial light to take account of.
9. Backgrounds Need To Be As Simple As Possible
When you are working indoors on shots, a nice and simple backing to the shoot is much preferred. Background ‘clutter’ detracts from the item you’re photographing and will usually be out of focus when the shot is processed. A solid colour is much preferred, and this can be achieved against a painted wall or even a clean bedsheet. Also remember to leave space between the background and the subject to avoid unwanted shadowing.
Framing the scene right is needed if you’re aiming to convey a certain story to your viewer. Things can look amateurish if heads are off-centred too much, or if the camera is too close to the subject. Remember to have visual elements in both the foreground and background so that the content has depth to it, as opposed to coming across flat or staged.
So whether you have a top of the range film camera or just plan on using your smartphone more effectively, these 10 tips will see you right, and producing higher quality film and photos in a short amount of time will be a breeze.