January 22, 2015

How to shoot a video that doesn't completely suck, with no $

Before the A/V nerds go postal on all the fine arts and technique that I am not talking about: this isn't a tutorial on how to make a high quality video.

Not remotely so.

This is a tutorial on how to make a video that doesn't completely suck with no money.

So with that in mind, let's start:

STEP ONE -- where are you shooting?

Is it neon pink? Then paint the walls or hang up some sheets, because otherwise you're going to reflect neon pink off your face in the shoot.
The best color walls are neutral colors, like white, off white, beige, brown, or black. They won't really affect the color of your shot, which is helpful.

STEP TWO -- camera angle. Make sure you are actually in the shot, for starts. Then you want to make sure that you are shooting from above, for a more flattering shot. (nobody wants to look up your nose at your boogers)

Shooting from below is weird. Don't do that. I think people have better posture, breath control, and chin definition when they are standing.  So if you're going to stand up for your shoot, put your laptop on a box or something so that it's level with your face, and so that the camera is a little higher than you are.

If you're taller, like me, you may have to sit down.  That's okay.  Put a pillow behind your back and sit on the edge of the seat.  Plant your feet firmly on the ground.  Don't slouch, you'll look like you're falling asleep.  Nobody wants to watch you fall asleep.

STEP THREE -- Lighting. Lighting is important.
Don't light yourself from behind, unless you're in the witness protection program.

HOW TO AVOID: Make sure there are no light sources behind you. Common nuisance backlights are room lights on the ceiling positioned behind you or between you and the camera (or behind you), open windows curtains that are bleeding in light, etc. Try to film with your back to a wall, or even better, a light-killing black curtain.

DO NOT LIGHT YOURSELF FROM BELOW. No matter how good you look in daylight, you will almost assuredly look like this when lit from below:

HOW TO AVOID: Don't light yourself with a desklamp that is sitting below your camera.
Don't light yourself with the cold lifeless glow of your laptop.
Make sure you don't have a flashlight in your lap pointed at your face.
Make sure your lighting is above your head (like where the sun is in the sky), or aimed at the ceiling to diffuse the light and reflect it back down onto you.
Just don't have a source of light that is below your field of vision, or if there is one, make sure to balance it out by having another light source that is stronger.


You can't afford proper lighting if you have zero $.


You should probably light from more than once source.
If you do that, you'll have two lights, a "key light" which is the stronger one and provides definition and shiz, and your "fill light" which is diffuse and fills the shadows on your face with a softer more diffuse light.

Or you can just put a couple lamps in the room behind the camera and call it good.

OH wait, you only have one lamp? Yeah, you can probably make that work too.

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