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Videography is one of the most rewarding jobs there is however due to the relatively high costs of much of the associated equipment the barriers to entry can seem quite daunting if you are just starting out.
However you can get yourself a great kit together on a small budget when you are beginning and then later you can add to your gear in a piecemeal fashion, gradually building up a fantastic camera system that ticks all the right boxes for you.
Can You Use Your Mobile Phone For Videography?
It’s incredible to have witnessed such revolutionary changes in the technology that we use in our day to day lives and one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that you likely to already own is your mobile phone!
Did you know that your Mobile Phone has more computing power than the Apollo 11 rocket that reached the moon? Most mobile phones on the market today also have high quality digital cameras and 4K video. You can most certainly make use of your phone in the context of videography, especially if you’re a beginner.
How To Shoot Professional Quality Video Footage Using Your Mobile Phone.
Although you can just point and click ‘Record’ on your phone there are a few tips that can really make the difference between ending up with amateur looking videos and ones that can stand up against a professionally produced one.
- Firstly, always film horizontally! This will avoid the video having black bars on either side of it, a guaranteed sign to make your video come across as amateurish. Most screens, from televisions to computers, have displays that have a landscape orientation and so to fit into these criteria you will need to film horizontally.
- Use a Tripod. If you film without using a tripod you can end up with shaky footage with poor panning and sweeps, even if you have steady hands. There are a wide range of tripods that you can clip your phone into and then using the arms you can easily guide the camera and create top quality videography with the stability you need to get professional looking results.
- When filming on your phone don’t use the zoom. The digital zoom on your camera phone will expand the image but because the lens doesn’t move you’ll just end up with a more pixelated image. If you want to zoom in on a subject then you are better off moving towards the subject instead of using the digital zoom. This is an undoubted drawback of using a phone to record video but you can usually find ways to work around it.
- Depending on where you are working and if circumstances allow, then using off camera lighting can make a huge difference to the final product. You can quite easily rig up a good lighting set up on a fairly low budget but don’t forget to make use of the sun and other natural lighting too. To make use of the sun you simply need to have your subjects facing a window or the sun to get excellent natural lighting for free. Always avoid having a window behind your subject though because you’ll end up with a silhouette!
- Audio recording with your phone can be tricky and the sound quality can end up being pretty terrible. You can overcome this by using external microphones, which you can attach to your phone. Alternatively you can use a second phone which you can hang above the subject to record the audio with a voice memo app for example, and then edit the audio into the final cut during the post production process.
Using a Basic Digital Camera is a Good Way to Start Working in Videography.
With modern technology being what it is you will usually find that your digital camera, even if it’s a pretty basic model, can record high quality 4K footage. The growth in the popularity and reach of online platforms such as YouTube, have helped to drive a new generation of creatives to push the boundaries and develop huge online followings putting out footage about everything from travel to their pets, Vlogs and much more.
This has given camera manufacturers a huge new market to appeal to and has been part of the motivation for building cameras that have excellent video recording as a standard feature. There are certain limitations that you’ll find with most basic cameras, specifically that the video clips are quite limited. For example, most basic Nikon cameras have a 5 minute clip limit whereas Canons and many Panasonics have a 29 minute 59 second clip limit.
Although these video clip limitations can seem like a major problem the truth is that in most circumstances and for most projects you won’t need to film such long continuous segments. If you are filming an entire wedding ceremony or a corporate event though that may last many hours, then this will become more of an issue. If you’re working as a videographer in the events industry you will probably have to buy a purpose made video camera.
The other problem you might find if you are using a basic DSLR camera for your videography is that the audio can be quite poor. You can overcome this by using an external mic.
Camera with Built in Stabilization.
For general still photo use having image stabilization built in to your DSLR is a useful feature because it allows you to operate in low lighting conditions with a slower shutter speed while maintaining a good crisp image however when shooting video it can be extremely important to avoid ending up with amateur looking results.
If you’re using a DSLR to shoot video then the image stabilization feature will help to reduce shaky transitions in the footage. When you are panning or doing tracking shots the stabilization stops the footage looking like a home movie with jolty movements. This will inevitably make your work look unprofessional and so image stabilization is something that you should definitely be considering when selecting a DSLR camera for videography.
Using a Tripod.
When you’re shooting video with a DSLR or other basic camera then making use of a tripod is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your footage. There are many different tripods on the market, ranging from lightweight travel models to heavier tripods designed for studio use. The tripods have arms which you can use to guide the camera smoothly though your shots to create stunning professional grade videography.
What Equipment Do You, As a Beginner, Need For Videography?
- Camera – essential! You can use a still shot camera with 4k video to fulfill all your basic needs or else use your mobile phone.
- Tripod. Incorporating a tripod in your videography camera system will raise your game to a professional quality level. Tripods are relatively low cost and needn’t stretch your budget.
- Shoulder mount. If you’re shooting footage with your DSLR and you either can’t or don’t want to use a tripod, then a shoulder mount will help you achieve smooth shake-free video while letting you move more freely around the set than a tripod would allow.
- External Mic. You can use a shotgun mic, a boom mic or even a wireless microphone. The shotgun mic is the most versatile but having a selection will help you capture the very best audio in any circumstance.
- Spare batteries and memory cards. It’s always a good idea to have a few spare batteries and memory cards with you, especially if you are working on location. Make it a part of your routine to put a few extras in your camera bag before you head out the door.
- Sturdy camera bag. A good rucksack or shoulder camera bag is a crucial bit of kit that will keep your equipment safe in transit. If you’re working on different locations for your clients then it’s worth getting a bag with some extra pockets where you can keep your spare batteries, memory cards and a packed lunch.
The Line Between Still Shot and Video Cameras is Blurring.
In recent decades the difference between video cameras and still shot cameras has significantly narrowed. The functionality of DSLRs has been improving so fast that sometimes it’s hard to keep up!
As technology has continued to improve the need for specialised video cameras has become less as less vital, even for professional videographers who can often use their DSLR to cover all the bases in their work.
There are certain limitations that are inbuilt with a DSLR. One of the major problems is the limitations set on the length of individual clips and the memory cards may not be able to handle more than about 30 minutes of footage. However, you can carry multiple memory cards with you and unless you are filming a long event, you can usually create the type of videos that your clients need by cutting together the separate scenes that you record in shorter clips that stay well under the limits.
Videography Equipment is Coming Down in Price and Delivering Better Results Than Ever.
If you’re breaking into the field of videography then there has never been a better time for you to do so! Every year the technology is improving and you can now work with a basic to medium grade DSLR and achieve professional results with relative ease.
The demand for videography is rising steadily and so once you have your basic equipment together and get comfortable using it you can quickly find work. Alternatively, if you want to try videography for personal projects then the equipment is not very expensive and you can, more than likely, use your current basic DSLR or mobile phone to shoot all the footage that you need.
What is your favorite beginner camera for videography?