Filmmaking is a natural progression for the photographer looking to widen their horizons with new dimensions of creativity. To learn filmmaking, the photographer must start with a firm grasp of the principles of how to make a photograph. All of those skills, from the technical, such as ISO, shutter & aperture though to the aesthetic, framing, depth of field, rule of thirds, etc, all apply to the world of the moving image however, thereís a few more things to learn before the photographer can become a competent maker of films.
A film or video recording is simply a series of still images captured that when played back at the right speed appear to show movement. This is a principle that goes back to the beginning of filmmaking and most of the principles that applied then, apply just as much today. Technology though has meant that some aspects of todayís films would be alien to a filmmaker from days gone by. Codecs for instance have appeared only because we record and play our films digitally now whereas before, the filmmaker would have been thinking only about celluloid.
Here weíll take a look at the essential knowledge to get off the ground with digital filming. This article isnít going to be heavily technical, more an introduction to the important bits requiring the reader to go on and learn more about the details of each.
Codecs are possibly the most confusing aspect of recording a digital film. Codecs are the compression methods, working with certain file types, that are applied to the actual footage when the film is made in the camera and after it has been edited and presented for viewing. They're involved throughout this process and just to add to the confusion, the codecs can change from start to finish. A codec is like a piece of code that manipulates the footage, primarily to compress it. At whatever stage a piece of footage is at, itís been subjected to a codec. There is exception to that, if the footage is recorded raw, that is, the data of the recording is used without it being compressed first by the camera using the default compression codecs. Raw is preferred by filmmakers because it's the captured scene offering the most information for post-processing with no loss of data from compression. It does however mean further steps in the editor's workflow as this data has to be converted to a useable format before editing. What you might now have realised is that most cameras do some work on the recording before you get your hands on it, so it's compressed using the camera's built-in codec and dropped in to a container such as .mov. One final ingredient in the codec mix, they also apply to the sound recorded within the footage too.
You could compare a codec and raw to the jpg and raw photo files. Jpg's are compressed versions of the raw image, where some data and therefore picture quality is sacrificed to make a smaller file. A piece of footage, subjected to a codec is also reduced in size and some quality lost to gain the advantage of a smaller file. A raw footage file is as big a file as is possible because it contains all of the data, much like a raw photography file. Using raw footage files is quite specialised as most camera manufacturers don't make it easy to get to them. Although that's starting to change as new cameras come out, access to raw files is starting to make it in to the specifications. Raw files are massive and require a big file support infrastructure to back them up and for editing.
Thereís a variety of codecs, each one doing things slightly differently to the others, with advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the codec selected to package the final film will determine the file size and the compression rates used to reduce the filmís size. The chosen compression codec will determine the trade-off between file-size and playback quality. Bigger files have more data and therefore playback is better to watch, smaller files are easier to manage, upload and download but donít contain as much information therefore playback quality is reduced.
Codecs have two parts to them, the compression codec and the container. There are a number of different compression codecs and popular amongst these is h.264. The containers also come in different varieties such as .avi, .mp4 or .mov. The containers are the file types you see when you have video clips on your computer.
When a film is edited and the final film about to be created, the editor has to make a choice about the most appropriate playback codec. They also have options to set within their chosen codec, such as data rates and which compression codecs to use. There are other settings to choice from too but this article isn't the place to cover these. If the final film is heading to the web and a hosting site like Vimeo or Youtube, they have recommended settings to use for your film to ensure playback is at the best quality possible. Playback quality is important because anything playing in low quality is less likely to be watched by anyone. The expectation now is for HD as a minimum so the codec has to ensure the film is watchable at those dimensions. We look at HD and playback dimensions later in the article. It should be noted that for a film that's been through editing and uploaded as a HD film, it should have started as a HD film. That is, upsizing a film from a smaller size to a larger one usually results in a loss of quality. Therefore, if you want your final film to be played in HD, record it at least in HD. The film can be downsized from say 4K to HD, but we'll leave that topic for another time.
What the filmmaker intends to do with the final film will, in many cases, determine the chosen codecs used. If the intention is to upload it to the web for viewing online, then the playback quality isnít so critical (But nonetheless still very important) so a little reduction in quality is acceptable to allow for a smaller file size. However if the intention is for archiving or for further editing, then retaining quality is critical and so itís accepted that a bigger file is produced. Unfortunately we await the nirvana of file types, one that is small in size and big on quality.
Some codecs are Ďlossyí, where thereís a reduction in file size at the expense of quality, or Ďlosslessí where there is no quality loss but thereís a bigger file.
This article isnít intended to go in to the technical details of the world of codecs as this is a highly complex topic, however, as you might expect, thereís a wealth of knowledge on the web about the ins and outs of using codecs for filmmakers. Grasping the codec concept will be a big leap forward for the newbie filmmaker so taking the time to understand codecs will be time well spent. Become familiar with the important and most used codecs and this will give you a start to making films. As your requirements widen so will your need to understand other codecs and recording techniques.
Take a photograph and sound plays no part in the process of taking or viewing, being blissfully ignored throughout. Shoot some footage however and sound must be considered as carefully as the vision. Poor sound quality is more likely to put someone off watching a film than poor visuals because our minds seem to be less tolerant of shabby sound. Less than professional-quality sound reflects very badly on the watched film, as itís just poor production. Ignore sound at your peril!
The importance of sound is demonstrated by the fact that careers are dedicated wholly to the recording of sound alone. Film crews usually have a person there only for the purpose of gathering the noise. This too is a highly complex topic if you dig deep enough but much like codecs, itís possible to have a basic understanding of sound and produce decent quality films that viewers are happy to listen to, without having to learn every little bit of knowledge.
Microphones are one piece of kit the photographer never needed but must consider as a key purchase now theyíve taken on the recording of film. Most cameras will have an in-built microphone which will work, but for that professional recording, an external microphone is a must. These vary in price and use, starting with those that sit on top of a DSLR (see picture above) in the flash shoe and connected by wire to a socket on the side of the camera, through to boom-mounted microphones held above the talent or whatever is making the sound to record, or even the tiny lavalier mics pinned to a person giving an interview. Each one has itís advantages and disadvantages so their use must be appropriate to what the filmmaker wishes to capture. You wouldnít use a lavalier mic to record animals in a nature film for instance. This job would likely fall to the larger mic on a boom or maybe the smaller mic mounted on the camera. Shooting an interview would suit the lavalier because that captures the sound very closely to the speaker, thus making for a very high-quality recording. Using a camera-mounted mic would work and may even be acceptable but the quality is unlikely to be as good as the tiny mic.
Sound can be recorded to the camera at the same time as the vision or it can be recorded to an external recorder or even both at the same time. Here we encounter another bit of kit to buy and as with most pieces of technology, the prices and capabilities vary wildly. Some items seem to be used by many people because they have a great reputation and at a reasonable price. Zoom recorders and Rode mics to name two. Of course other makes are available and widely used but those two are very popular. Wind (yes wind, you know, the weather kind..) is a real problem for recorded sound. If itís ignored, wind will ruin a recording. Precautions can be taken in the form of special furry covers that fit over the microphone. (Also called Ďdead catí because theyíre furry too. Funny that eh?) Wind noise is almost impossible to remove from a recording so it has to be removed at the time of recording.
It is recommended that the sound is monitored during recording to ensure the levels are acceptable. That is, it's not too loud or too quiet. If it's too loud this leads to 'clipping' where detail is lost because there's so much noise it can't be recorded and it becomes a horrible mushy noise that's impossible to fix in post-processing. To monitor the sound there needs to be a headphone socket that allows the operator to hear what the camera is recording. Failing that, then at least looking at the levels display on camera to ensure they are adjusted to correctly record everything without clipping.
Music added to a film can make a huge difference to itís appeal, whether thatís as a backing track or setting clips to work with the music itself, it adds a lot to the watchability of the final film. Of course music is subject to copyright so this has to be considered before using in any production. Should music be required, there's a whole host of online services that offer music licencing for a fee. Also worth considering are the sites that offer music via a creative commons licence. Some music is available for free for commercial use but a credit must be shown with the film using the music. The words of the credit are very specific so they are available to be copied from the site in order to ensure the credit is shown correctly. Some of the music can be used without the credit if a fee is paid.
There will be times when sound has to be edited, perhaps a clip shortened or some noise removed. To do this work sound-editing software is required and I use one called Audacity. Amazingly for this very useful tool, it's free. The website is here: audacity.sourceforge.net There will no doubt be other software out there but I do find Audacity very useful. There are many clips on Youtube to help with understanding how it works which shows how popular it is.
When rendering a film after editing, consideration has to be given to the audio codec. Just like the video codec mentioned above, the audio codec settings will effect the quality of the sound. Data bit rates determine how much information is used per second and just as with the video, higher data rates, means more information and better quality.
PAL and NTSC
These are TV broadcast standards which determine how the programme is technically displayed on the screen. Depending upon where you live, the broadcasting authorities will determine which of these two standards apply to your programming. PAL is used in Europe and many parts of Australasia. The USA and some parts of South America use NTSC.
Cameras will offer the ability to record in either format. It's important to be aware of the differences between them. For instance, they record and playback at different frame rates. NTSC at 60i or 30P and PAL at 50i or 25p. They also display a different number of lines on the screen. PAL displays 576 lines and NTSC shows 480 lines. Because there's more information on the screen, PAL gives a more detailed picture. The p and the i mentioned above in the frame rates refers to progressive and interlaced scanning. This is the method used to display the lines on the screen.
Most photographers will have a camera body capable of recording video and at least one lens which is the minimum hardware required to make a film. However, just like photography, thereís a mountain of equipment available to enhance the filmmaking process. Some of it very useful like microphones, sound recorders, data recorders and focussing aids to things you may be able to do without, like shoulder braces or sliders. All have their place but each isnít always necessary. What the filmmaker buys or hires depends on what type of production value they want to bring to the film and how they want the final film to look. Budget plays a big part of any film production, so when cash is tight, some equipment just has to be avoided but if money is not a concern (if only), then only the imagination of the cinematographer and director will restrict how the film looks.
The filmmaking revolution started when Canon released the 5DmarkII with the addition of 1920x1080 HD video. The combination of an affordable camera that shot great stills and also captured quality video using the entire range of stills lenses on a full-frame sensor ripped open the world of moving images for many people. (Including me). As with most all popular technology, Canon's competitors soon caught up and now, the likes of Panasonic and especially Sony have moved things along at a great pace. Both released excellent mirrorless bodies for less than the price of those popular DSLR's and with better image capture at 4K with outputs for external monitors. (Plus some other great functionality that I won't go in to here).
Camera bodies that record video are common but they aren't by any means the only devices available to do the job. Budget will determine what can be purchased. If funds are available then a whole range of specialist video camera options swing in to view. Each offering some great features. For those looking to get in to this realm of gear, making a decision could be hard as there are so many great cameras like the C300 from Canon or the Sony FS5, to name but two. There's lots more from Panasonic, Black Magic, Red. Let's not forget that even phones now have great capability to record video. Some adverts and even films have been made using only smartphones.
The lenses used by photographers easily transfer to film use although using the best lenses you can afford will mean better quaity footage just as with stills. Some photographers will use Canon glass on Sony or Panasonic bodies by fitting an adaptor like a Metabones. If you have the funds, specialist cinema lenses are also available from a number of companies, including Canon, Zeiss, and Angenieux.
Keeping the camera steady is a massive challenge for the filmmaker. It's for a good reason that you'll see many a filmmaker using a hefty tripod upon which to mount a camera. Of course cameras need to move at times too so there are options to mount them on a shoulder or even specilist handheld or body-mounted rigs that have built-in self levelling capability. Don't ignore the monopod, for the filmmaker travelling light and constantly on the move, a monopod can provide some great stability. Of course it's never going to be as steady as a tripod but it might be enough to get usable footage.
Most photographers will have a tripod to call upon when it's critical the camera be held steady for seconds, minutes or hours. Filmmakers also use tripods to shoot steady, shake-free footage but there are a couple of important differences between the filmmaker's tripod and photographer's. The first of those is the need for the photographer to flip between portrait and landscape formats, so, the tripod head has a built-in flip function, whereas the filmmaker doesn't need that option. Everything is filmed in landscape so the video tripod head is missing that unneccessary ability. Secondly, the filmmaker needs to move the camera with the subject, either panning left or right, or vice-versa, or tilting up or down, or down and up. Panning is an important filmmaking technique that a photographer doesn't do on a tripod. (Of course photographers pan the camera with a subject, but generally this is a hand-held action). To aid the pan and tilt, video heads have built-in adjustable dampening, usually with fluid, to make the movement smooth and jerk-free. Filmmaking tripods are heavier too as they have to carry heavier equipment.
The filmmaker no longer looks through the viewfinder to see the scene. The large panel on the back of DSLR and mirrorless cameras shows the image. Viewfinders can be added to aid with seeing the scene in poor light and to magnify the panel. See the header image above for a typical viewfinder fitted to a camera. External displays can be connected to the camera to allow the operator to see the scene without having to have the camera to their eye.
There is so much gear that is film-specific that the photographer never used, such as green screen backgrounds, external viewfinders, external recorders for video, wireless feeds, shoulder rigs, Steadicam rigs, action cameras such as the GoPro and so much more. Eventually the filmmaker will wish to shoot a scene that will benefit from this kind of kit. Itís useful to become familiar with it even if it wonít be needed until some unknown time in the future. Keeping one eye on whatís available can help fire the imagination.
Lighting a scene.
Shoot a photograph and lighting is only considered for the length of time the shutter is open. Shoot a movie and the lighting also has to be considered for the length of time the shutter is open, but this time it's considerably longer. The 'scene' could be from a story and you're filming actors or it could be real-life where you're tracking someone or something, perhaps a game of football or someone walking up a hill. The filmmaker has to be aware of how the light can change around the scene for the length of time the camera is filming. When setting the camera up, there are times when it will be suitable to set everything manually because you know the light will remain constant throughout and you want to ensure your ideal settings are used, that is, the right shutter speed to work with your desired frame rate, the right aperture to give the preferred depth of field and ISO, to ensure you get the best quality possible. Other times it maybe appropriate to use an automatic program because the change in light is so dramatic and there's no opportunity to reset the camera. There's certainly no right or wrong answers here, things depend very much on the circumstances in which the film is being made and there's no substitute for knowledge and experience.
Flash gave the correct amount of light for split seconds to record that image but a whole new world of light is needed for filming. As with photography, there are all sorts of different technologies to use. From old-fashioned tungsten to new-on-the-block LEDs. As these new lights become commonplace, so their prices will drop and they are already well within the reach of most film budgets. Prices, like the technology, vary greatly, however there should be a suitable light-source to match your budget. If you're starting out, chances are you're looking at the lower price ranges to start with. Let's have a look at a couple of cheap options, starting with LED.
The quality of LED lighting is excellent and they're now widely used in the industry. In our image here, you can see a very cheap LED light fitted to the top of a DSLR. This cost £22 from Amazon (not including camera!) It has an array of 160 LED lights and is powered by 6 AA batteries or a Sony Li-on NP series battery. The LEDs are covered by a swopable diffuser which can be changed for other colours depending upon the colour temperature you're working with. This light is quite powerful for illuminating fairly small scenes or perhaps if you were doing a head and shoulders interview. We've mounted it on the DSLR cold, (there's no connection between the camera and the light). It can be mounted anywhere there's a hotshoe, so on top of a light stand with an adaptor for instance. It's not powerful enough to be a main light but would be great as a hair light in an interview or as a fill light. LED lights come in a variety of sizes from small like this to large where there are a thousand or more LEDs in a panel. Obviously a light that big doesn't go on top of your camera, it would be fitted to a light stand.
Another cheap option, fluorescent bulbs. Here we have a light stand fitted with a head capable of taking 4 bulbs. In this shot we have it fitted with only two. This light can be purchased for £78 with 4 bulbs. (Without stand).
I purchased a couple of different bulbs as these have better daylight balance, which are £30 each. These bulbs give a nice quality of light and they don't get too hot in operation. One might be enough to light an interview
maybe with that LED light as a hair light. Perhaps the only disadvantage is the need to have somewhere to plug it in for power. The great thing about video lights is you can use them for photography too. They
lack the power of dedicated flash or strobes but can still be very useful for shooting stills. (All prices correct at time of writing only).
Remember, lighting a scene requires so much more than lighting a single spot as was needed when shooting a photograph. Wherever the film camera is pointing, the lighting has to be considered. So if the filming requires someone to walk from one part of a scene to another, so the lighting has to work with that change of position and camera angle.
Light temperature is just as important in filming as it is when taking a photograph. If you're shooting raw images, then changing the white balance was easy to do in post-processing. With video, it's possible to do it in post, but it's my experience that a white balance adjustment in post slightly reduces quality in the final film and is harder to change accurately. I will set the white balance of the camera before I start filming, usually taking a custom reading to ensure that the WB is completely accurate.
Don't assume that you'll be able to use auto-focus for your filmmaking. Whilst some cameras do offer AF, some have a limited ability, with no option to track a moving object. Some will track but there's a chance the AF system will lose your intended subject only to focus on something unrelated and ruining the shot. It's very possible that manual focus skills will be required to ensure the footage is sharp at all times. There's a huge after-sales market for focus-assist aids that bolt on to rigs and lenses to provide easier manual control of focus adjustment. How focus is applied depends on the camera used and the preferences of the operator so I can't say too much about it here, other than be aware that focus methods have to be considered before starting to film.
Frame rates and playback speeds.
Almost as confusing as codecs, frame rates refer to the number of pictures that are recorded or played back every second. Frames Per Second is usualy shortened to FPS. The rate selected for the final playback has a huge influence on the look of the film. If the look of a traditional film is required by the filmmaker, called the Ďfilm lookí then a frame rate matching those used originally must be used. 24 fps is the rate that matches that look.
That though is the rate for playback. The rate at time of recording is just as important but the frame rate for final playback has to be considered first when selecting a rate for the recording. There are many different frame rates starting as low as 15, up through 24, 30, 50, 60, 100, 120 and beyond to highly specialised rates in the thousands. If a film is recorded at say 30fps, then playback will likely be at 30fps too, but record at say 60fps or 120fps then the filmmaker then has an option to slow that footage down at playback to show the film as slow-motion. This is because the footage is played back at 30fps. So, 30fps playback is 50% of the recorded 60fps, which is slow, or 25% of the recorded 120fps, even slower motion. Slow motion is a great option to have and adds a lot of 'watchability' value to a film.
Note that although a piece of footage may be recorded at a frame rate higher than the intended playback rate it can also be played back at the normal speed too. It doesn't have to be played back in slow-motion. The editor makes the choice when they use the clip. They decide to either slow it down or play back at normal speed. It's also worth noting that although it's possible to record footage at speeds slower than your expected playback, i.e. record at 15fps to play back at 30fps, this is an unusual scenario as it leads to jumpy clips when played back, unless there's little or no movement. Footage can be speeded up too, however, this is getting a little complicated for this article, but be aware.
Frame rates work in harmony with the shutter speed of the camera and the general opinion is that whatever frame rate is used, the shutter speed should be double that. For example, a frame rate of 60fps should be used with a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. (The reasons for this date back to when film was shot on actual film). The shutter is still part of the process for letting light in to the camera but also effects how the final scene will look stylistically too.
As in photography, selecting a slower shutter speed will introduce more blur and using a faster shutter means less blur. These are aesthetic choices that have to be made before starting to record. Those faster shutter speeds means the final film will have a more Ďvideoí look than the filmic look you get with the slight blur from the slower shutter speeds. Donít forget, shutter and frame rates are different but you have to work with them in parallel.
HD, Full HD, Ultra HD 4K and beyond.
The terms refer to the dimensions of the final frame viewed during playback. HD is the smallest size through to 4K, (also called ultra HD but with slightly different diemnsions. True 4K is 4096◊2160. UHD is 3840◊2160), which is the largest of the current most popular sizes. With technology comes ever larger frame sizes and 8K is already in use and will one day be the norm as 4K is now becoming. The dimensions of your final film will be determined by the size of the original recording from the camera. 1920x1080 is standard these days with 4K close behind and within a year or so will probably overtake 1920x1080 to become the norm. The bigger the frame size and higher frame rate, the more expensive the camera. So, a camera that can record full HD at 30 frames a second is much cheaper than one that can also record full HD at 120fps or 4K at 30fps.
See the diagram to the right to see the dimensions of each frame size.
The aspect ratio, that is the ratio of the width to the height, is 16:9. (Divide the width by 16 and multiply the answer by 9 to give you the height). This is a wide-screen format. TV's used to be 4:3 so not so wide. Now, as you'll probably know, wide screen is the norm.
It is possible to record and playback at framesizes smaller than those we have shown here and to use a 4:3 aspect ratio. Youtube will play footage at 144 but display it at more than 100% of the width and height so the image is blurry and pixalated. I would recommend looking to record at a mininum of 1280x720 for HD quality. You should record your footage at dimensions that are equal to, or in excess of the dimensions you expect for the final film. It is possible to upsize but this adds complexity and additional software to the post process and it's then possible this leads to a loss of quality. It is perfectly acceptable to shoot in larger dimensions and downsize for the final film. This does not lead to any loss of quality.
One the advantages of shooting 4K is the ability to crop the scene when you're making a full HD or smaller film. This gives various composition options from the one filmed scene. For instance, if you're filming an interview to be shown as full HD 1920x1080, with the scene filmed from the waist up, usually you would only have that one composition to use unless you move the camera for another angle. By using 4K, you can crop in to the scene and use a 1920x1080 portion, which could be a head and shoulders composition of the person talking.
Playback on current HD television starts at HD quality 1280x720 or 1920x1080. This will eventually reach the 4K standard and as technology progresses, 8K and beyond. Many videos on Vimeo or Youtube are also available to watch at these dimensions. Of course the quality of playback can be changed and almost all videos are now available to watch at HD, full HD and even 4K. The quality goes up with the frame size but so does the size of the file and the length of time to download. Only with the advent of faster broadband connections to the home are we able to now watch these films at high quality without the constant stopping caused by buffering as the video player loads up the next few frames to watch. I've recently read that Netflix specifies a minimum of 4K for their programming now, so things are moving on from HD very quickly in the big-budget broadcast world.
At this point it might be worth mentioning that one of the great compositon tools a photographer has, portrait OR landscape, is lost when you shoot film. Everything is landscape. There's no opportunity to flip the camera on it's side and shoot portrait.
Filmmakers are continually striving to make their films as detailed and sharp as possible. Whenever a new camera is released, the first things most users will look at is the sensor capture size and frame rate, closely followed by low-light sensitivity and exposure dynamic range. If you are making films that are destined only to be seen on the web and most are, then it's possible to make a perfectly acceptable film in 1280x720. Don't assume that you need to be shooting everything in 4K. Of course one day soon 4K will be the standard we all use. If you're reading this in 2020, substitute 4K with 8K.
To put together a film, editing software is needed. These programs allow the editor to select clips, adjust them for contrast, exposure, white balance, adding titles and text or even adding toning for colour effect and mood. All of the selected clips are then joined to make the final film. Sound editing is also possible, so too is adding a sound track, music or editing the sound recorded with the clips. Thereís an array of packages on offer, from low budget through to high-end, high-production, high-cost software to put together a movie. As always, budget will dictate what software is selected and the types of functionality on offer. Donít assume that because something is cheap that itís not going to be any good. There are some great packages that will do a great job, such as Corel's VideoStudio or Sony Vegas. These are desktop packages loaded on to a local pc. Some packages, like Adobe's Premier Pro, part of their Creative Cloud offering, are cloud-based meaning the video editor has to be connected to their online package to use it. (Although I understand it can also be used offline so a loss of Internet connectivity wouldn't be a disaster).
There's even free software called Da Vinci Resolve from Black Magic, who make excellent film cameras. This is a high-quality editing package with many professional features, especially for colour grading. Here's a link if you're interested: Davinci Resolve Software
Most editors come with a host of editing options such as special effects and clip transitions. Use these with caution as mostly they will look cheap and amateurish. Watch any well-received film, long or short and there will be no flashy added effects or titles. (Ignoring CGI for you Star Wars fans out there). When it comes to titles and effects, less is more.
Computing power and storage.
Video files are big and editing big files to make even bigger films takes a lot of processing power. A laptop with small processing power, low memory and low-spec on-board graphics isnít going to handle video processing very well. It may work but it will be very slow and probably drive the editor mad with waiting for the software to process each action the editor asks it to do. Whatís required are powerful processors like Intelís i5 or ideally their top-of-the-range i7, with lots of RAM, 8gb and above, lots of disk space probably in the terabytes, a powerful graphics card and a decent monitor. Those big files need to be backed up too so a decent hard drive configuration and backup strategy should be in place to ensure no files are ever lost.
What we have looked at here today are critical aspects of the filmmaking process but they're just the beginning. After learning these basics, the novice filmmaker will begin their journey up the learning curve with lots of new things to understand ahead of them. From learning to tell a story, learning how and when to move the camera, further technical knowledge about lighting, data recording in raw formats and the strange thing that is 4:2:2, timelapse, storyboards, aerial shooting with drones, cinematography, recording and lighting interviews, greenscreen, to name just a few. We have a glossary which explains many of the terms you'll encounter, take a look here.
For more information about some of these additional filmmaking aspects, see part 2 of our guide here.
One of the best learning tools I use is to watch critically-acclaimed films, short films, movies, documentaries to study how the scenes have been shot, how they have used different angles, lenses, frame rates, movement of the camera, processing, the 'look' of the film. Then deconstruct those techniques that I liked to see how I can use them in my own work. The best way to learn filmmaking is to make them so start on your own projects and learn as much as possible.
There are huge numbers of websites to visit about filmmaking so plenty of places to go to learn about the craft, but to get started, here's a few I use:
vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks This is a great place to visit to see inspiring work.
vimeo.com/blog Learn a lot here and probably start with this.
Filmmaking is a fantastic progression for a photographer and the rewards, both personal and professional can be massive for the successful photographer-turned-filmmaker. There is no doubt a lot of new stuff to learn and it might not be for everyone but for me, having made this transition, I now enjoy filmmaking more than I do photography and to say that does surprise me because I was and am still very passionate about photography. I hope this article gives you a flavour of what to think about, learn and helps you on your journey to learning all about the moving image.
September 2021 - Removed two links to sites that are no longer available.
Shoot,upload,repeat is the mantra of many a stock photographer who aims to make as much money as possible from their images. See how that's possible here.
This is part two of our exploration in to the world of filmmaking for photographers.
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