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Making movies has never been as accessible for aspiring filmmakers as it is currently. Movie making today often involves videography.
In fact, more and more still photographers are using their camera’s video features too. Though you may be an absolute expert in still imaging, there may be some videography basics you need to learn.
Principles of Videography
One of the first things to get used to when shooting videos is how motion changes everything. It changes the way you hold or support your camera, it changes the way you think about the final result, and it changes what you consider to be high quality.
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Still digital photographers are used to measuring potential image quality by looking at the sensor resolution of the sensor and what type of file is being used. So, we know a 24.1MP sensor and RAW files will deliver images with higher potential quality than a 6.2MP sensor and Jpegs.
The nature of recording moving images changes resolution requirements. A large part of the reason is the sheer size of video files. So, we consider resolution differently.
A recording meant only to be seen on a mobile device doesn’t need much video resolution. The need for a large screen TV is higher. So, a resolution of 720p is better on a TV than a resolution of 480p.
Higher quality video files with a resolution of 1080p are often referred to as HD or High Definition video. 4K is an even higher resolution, capable of cinematic quality resolution.
Getting to know about compression is one of the more important videography tips for beginners. Since the videos are so huge, compression is used to shrink file sizes in order to make them more manageable. Conversion programs or editing programs with conversion functions can adjust the files to a smaller size without adversely affecting how it looks when played back.
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Many cameras record in a digital format specific for that camera or brand, much like RAW files for still imaging. In order to get a finished video that can be viewed by common devices, the files are converted to standard formats. MP4 is one of the more common formats.
MP4 is also generally a compressed format. So the large video in a specific format is reduced and made viewable by most types of playback devices. If explaining videography for dummies, you could say that MP4 is video’s Jpeg and you would have a pretty good understanding of the relationship.
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Aspect ratio is how long a frame is versus how high it is. An 8x10 inch print has an aspect ratio of 4:5. A regular TV screen has an aspect ratio of 4:3, with wide screen TVs being 16:9. This makes 16:9 usable cinematically, though there are wider aspect ratios used for commercial theater release.
If you record with a higher resolution, you can change aspect ratios without losing too much video quality.
Just like with still photography, quality video work requires that you have quality lighting.
But gone are the days of having to set up complicated lighting schemes (and spending tons of money on lighting gear, for that matter).
One of my favorite additions to my video kit is the PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light shown above and below.
As you can see, it's a tiny little thing that can fit in your pocket. But don't think that because it's small that it doesn't pack a mighty punch...
With a CRI of 95+ and a TLCI of 97, you know you’re getting excellent quality lighting for your project.
There are 12 different lighting options built right into the light, which gives you easy access to tons of adjustments to get the lighting just right for your videos.
I also like that this light's battery lasts a full three hours, so you can keep recording and recording without worry that this little light is going to die on you.
On top of all that, the PilotFly AtomCube RX1 is completely dimmable. You can also adjust color temperature, saturation, and brightness.
It's well built with a durable all-aluminum frame, too. That means you can throw it in your camera bag and not worry about it being too delicate.
The best part is that you can use Bluetooth to connect up to 255 of these things together, all of which can be calibrated for consistent light from one unit to the next.
Add in control via a smartphone app, and you have the makings of an ideal light for your video needs!
Cameras and Lenses
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We’ve talked about video quality quite a bit when examining resolution, file types, and aspect ratio. Starting with the highest quality will let us end up with videos that can be enjoyed across multiple types of devices.
So, just as in still digital photography, larger sensors and better lenses will enable us to have better results.
Digital cameras, either DSLR or mirrorless, in MFT, APS-C, and Full Frame sensors are able to produce excellent video. Large sensors and sharp lenses are a piece of the equation, how a camera handles the digital files is also a vital part. Some large sensor cameras don’t have high quality video modes.
The newest digital cameras, including mirrorless cameras, have excellent video features. The prime lenses available for these new cameras are equally amazing in how good they are.
As an example, the Canon EOS R has a 30.3MP sensor and can record 4K video. Prime focal length lenses such as the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 wide angle lens and the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 short telephoto (shown above) are excellent choices for creating superb videos with this camera.
Photo by McKinley Law on Unsplash
Which brings us to another concern in videography basics. In order to maximize viewer enjoyment and involvement when watching the videos, minimizing distractions is very important.
Bokeh, or how out of focus images and spots of light appear, is a lens characteristic familiar to still photographers. Larger sensor cameras with fast primes tend to produce amazing bokeh. So that Canon EOS R with 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.2 lenses should enable beginner videographers to make great looking videos.
The end result is likely to be a video that can be enjoyed by others, videos that may actually make you some money from satisfied clients.
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash
After the video shoot, it is an almost foregone conclusion that there will need to be editing. A still image may be usable straight out of the camera (but not really), but almost every video file will require some post processing.
From videography basics such as file conversion and compression, to cutting and splicing scenes, editing is a fact of life in videography. A whole article could be made on video editing.
Videography Tips for Beginners
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A lot can be said about high quality equipment, basic videography techniques, and editing after the shoot, but the most important aspect of video is how it differs from and is similar to still photography.
If your camera has a high quality video mode, take advantage of it. You will have loads of enjoyment and it just might turn you into a filmmaker.