Things I wish I’d known when starting Videography
I’m primarily a self-tought photographer and videographer and to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way - but there are several things in both fields that took me way longer to learn than they should have.
Story over everything
This is something that I understood almost immediately and it formed the basis for a lot of good things I did and a lot of the mistakes I made. I don’t care how sick you thing a shot is - if it doesn’t help tell the story that you’re trying to get across in a better way then it needs to go. Less is more. Focus on getting the basics of storytelling right first and then you can add the cool shots in as they serve the purpose of your video.
Audio is the backbone of your edit - Not your footage
Sorry visual learners (myself included). This is something that took me awhile to learn especially coming primarily from an event photography background. I would go float around to different angles of whatever project I was shooting and “capture” them by taking a few seconds of footage before moving on the next one. And that’s great for coming up with the “cool” shots that I talked about in my last point but it made it a nightmare when sitting down to edit because I hadn’t given any thought to my in and out points for clips for my A-roll. I always had plenty of good B-roll but you need the audio clips to be able to tell a compelling story for most videos.
Slow motion is not your friend. And it’s not your enemy. It’s a tool.
Similar to how when I first started photography I saw a bunch of people going for outlandish edits that served no point outside of grabbing eyeballs because of how wild they were…I saw videographers that would use slow motion in this way because it’s different from what our eyes naturally see in our day to day life. This is why drone footage grabs people’s attention - thats not what their eyes normally see. But the thing is that if you want to create something compelling you want people to forget that they’re looking at a “thing” at all and just to be sucked into the moment. I avoided using slow motion for far too long because of people that overuse it and that is just as much of a mistake as they were making. It’s a tool in your kit and you should treat it as such when it serves your story.
Shoot in LOG footage and learn how to color correct and grade
I get it. LOG footage looks gross, grey, and intimidating and the footage your camera shoots that that already looks normal is simple to use and works fine for most things. But when you need flexibility in post you’re going to regret it and your final project is going to suffer. Go spend 15 minutes and learn how to read a histogram and to color grade using it which basically involves correcting by dropping your black levels to 0% and raising your highlight levels to 100% and then playing with your mid-tone levels to expose for the feeling you’re going for then raising your saturation levels to suit your taste.
Shoot close, medium, and wide shots
Cutting from a medium shot to a medium shot is the quickest way for an edit to get repetitive and therefore boring and it’s the easiest trap to fall into. Don’t do it.
Trust your gut
Your cut timing needs to “feel” right based on what’s happening in the overall story of your edit. And if you followed my last bit of advice and have variety in your shots when you piece them together in your edit the other thing to keep in mind is that you want wherever your eye is naturally drawn to in the final frame of one clip to be wherever your eye is naturally drawn to on the screen at the beginning of your next clip. Research the science behind what draws our eyes if you need help.