1. Preproduction v
vp1-1. Five skills
vp1-3. Keeping track
vp1-4. First impression
vp1-5. Successful scouting
vp1-6. Words of wisdom
vp2-1. Five production skills
vp2-2. Pep talk
vp2-6. Words of wisdom
vp3-1. Five skills
vp3-3. Grading and graphics
vp3-6. Words of wisdom
The big differences between camera types and costs are the controls the shooter gets and the image quality the viewer sees.
However, today, all amateur cameras are HD quality and come with a built-in microphone. Their image quality looks more or less the same on Youtube. So any camera and budget will do, and you can tell a story with any of them.
What you will learn
We review the fundamental difference between smartphone video, camcorder, DSLR, professional camcorders, and big rigs. We learn the benefits of camera accessories, including the lens shade and the Polarizing filter.
A smartphone video camera is the easiest to use. Remember to hold it horizontally even though more and more vertical is used. Horizontal is still the main format for most professional productions. This makes it easier to add your mobile videos to a larger project.
A camcorder has many more options, including a sharper and more powerful zoom to capture far-away shots. Professional models have far more options to customize your shooting style. For example, you can shoot on manual or auto-focus, auto-zoom, or auto-exposure.
Also, professional video cameras have a far superior eyepiece viewer, which makes it much easier to see the image in bright daylight. The sophisticated eyepiece system alone can more than double the camera cost.
DSLRs create a beautiful cinema-graphic look and are increasingly used among professionals and amateurs. One major drawback is they can only shoot for a few minutes at a time, making it almost impossible to sync audio from another source with video. To compensate, you need an external recorder/monitor, an extra hard drive, an extra HDMI cable, and much fewer run-and-gun situations.
Professional camcorders are ideal for news stories. They can capture uncompressed video, which is not necessary for amateurs but critical for hard-news short, deadline projects.
Here are a few inexpensive items I always use to improve image quality.
A ‘lens shade’ shades the lens from the light. That’s good. Light on the lens can cause flare. That’s bad. A lens shade protects the lens from getting banged up. That’s good too. Using a lens shade that’s smart.
A polarizing filter removes glare from shiny surfaces like glass, water, or the sky. Turning the polarizer filters out reflections making your colors richer. Polarizing filter. Don’t leave home without it.
Your budget will affect your choices. But another consideration includes how bulky a camera you’re willing to deal with. Next, define the priorities based on your movie content.
Once you have selected a camera category, you can investigate the differences between the camera makes and models.
Using a tripod is an easy way to improve your movies by making the images more steady.
We cover when to use a tripod and when it’s not necessary. We also cover the benefits of a fluid head and a quick release.
If you want to make impressive movie clips, use a tripod. Your shots will be more steady. Also, you can keep the camera in the same place if you have to move & adjust anything.
Many cameras today come with stabilization. However, a tripod is still more steady. Heavy video tripods are even more steady but no fun to lug around, weighing up to 25 pounds.
Keep the camera steady. Yes, I know that you know that’s Filmmaking 101. But why do professionals always seem to get steadier shots than amateurs?
If the subject is not moving, it is best to use a tripod. If the subject is moving, then shooting handheld is OK.