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Practice makes perfect and if you’re working towards becoming the very best videographer that you can be then you’re going to need plenty of it! Videography is a highly complex artform and although it has similarities to photography, it also requires a variety of different skill sets and techniques.
To work as a videographer you need to have a natural eye for a good shot, be able to shoot well on location and smoothly edit the footage in post production. To practise your skills it’s a good idea to work on each area of the process, not only in isolation but in conjunction with one another.
What is Videography?
Videography is the art of capturing moving scenes and images in a digital format that covers a huge range of subjects, events and formats. The videographer tends to operate as a lone wolf, or in a small crew, and so unlike filmmakers of the past, they really need to understand every step of the process, from shooting to editing to delivering the finished product to the client.
Some aspects of the process can be outsourced but as a general rule you want to master it first yourself before you start relying on others to pick up the slack, and so the videographer has to be a Jack of All Trades to make it in an extremely competitive industry!
Practicing the Different Aspects of Videography.
Shooting a video is a massive topic and every aspect of it comes together to create the finished product which you can later work with in post production.
There are several ways that you can practise the various elements of shooting a video individually but you’ll need to weave them together to get professional results! If you’re just starting out you might not get paid for your work at first but the experience and skills you learn will more than pay for themselves in the future.
Volunteer and Branch Out – The Perfect Way To Practice Shooting Film.
One of the best ways to get some free practise is to volunteer your skills in and around your local community. If you use your imagination there are many organizations, charities, projects and clubs who would love to have some footage of what they do, not only for posterity but also for their marketing, social media platforms and promotional activities.
For instance, why not contact a local theatre group and ask if they would allow you to film their rehearsals? Directors of theatrical performances spend a lot of time thinking about the lighting on stage which means you have the chance to try out your techniques with the basic composition of the scene ready made for you! The show itself will also give you the chance to focus on key elements of the plot, practise close up shots as well as panning, sweeps and other scene setting methods. Take a look at the script beforehand so you know where the action is heading and talk with the play’s director and actors afterwards to get some feedback on your work.
Sports clubs are another fantastic place to practise your videography. Many coaches highly value video of their team’s games so that they can go back and run over the tactics with their players. You might be working outdoors or in a gym, but either way you’ll have to work with the lighting that you have and try to capture the essence of the action in real time.
Another avenue that you can explore is to volunteer your skills to create promotional material for local farmers markets, businesses such as fashion boutiques, restaurants or bars as well as museums and other cultural venues. Spend a day with your camera, after getting permission from the organizers, walking around the venue shooting some inspiring footage before going home to edit together a short piece. Not only will you get some good hands-on practise, but the venue will be highly appreciative! You can also use these practise videos to promote your own work with potential clients in the future to help kick start your own videography career, making it a win-win situation for all involved.
Compositing a Scene.
Getting the hang of composition and setting a visual scene is an important part of creating engaging video footage. Composition refers to the way that you arrange or place the subject within the frame. You can use this to incredible effect by employing subtle techniques and shifts in perspective which can add a huge amount to the narrative power of your work.
You can learn a lot from your photography practise when it comes to composition because most of the same principles apply. You can study books on composition or watch tutorial videos on YouTube to get some ideas which you can put into practise to cement them in your own personal repertoire. There are certain rules which you can apply within your work, such as the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio and the use of leading lines to guide your viewers’ gaze to different points on the screen.
You should also practise finding and using features of the scenery to frame your subjects in a way that adds to, and doesn’t take away from, the footage itself. For example, pulling forwards through a doorway into the face of your subject is an effective, and commonly used, technique to draw your audience into the mind or feelings of the character on screen.
Editing and Post Production.
The post production process is a critical part of videography, especially if you are working alone. You are going to need to sift through your footage, cut out the best parts and seamless tie them together for the final cut.
One way you practise your editing skills is to re-edit past projects, trying out new things as you do so. Alternatively, you can download some footage that someone else has done and practise re-editing that. Working with someone else’s footage will also help you to see novel ways of doing things. You can then incorporate these approaches in your own work.
Study the Projects of Others in Your Field.
Always keep an eye on new developments in the industry. Watch the best examples of videography in your own genre and then consciously put what you liked in their work into action by trying out the techniques and stylistic features you appreciated in your own work.
Get Creative with some New Projects!
Try to stretch yourself as much as you can within your videography practise. This means trying out and taking anything usual or unexpected that comes along! Why not try making a short surrealist movie in the style of Salvador Dali or shooting a silent short film?
Alternatively, why not link up with a local band and shoot some music videos with them? This will help you get to grips with the audio settings on your camera in a pretty challenging environment!
Putting yourself in new situations and doing something completely different to what you’re used to will bring out new skills and give you unique inspiration that you can take back to your other projects and professional work.
Books and Study.
You can dive into some of the incredible books on the subject of videography to learn about new techniques, tricks, tips and hints; these can all be incorporated into your work and naturally, you’re going to need to practise them to get them right before you roll them out in a project or in your freelancing work.
You might feel like you’re on top of your videography but there’s always more to learn and a well laid out book is a great resource to find new inspiration and to help you grow as a creator.
Top 3 Videography Books That You Should Have on Your Shelf.
As well as spending as much time as you can actually practicing your videography, having a good theoretical background knowledge is worth its weight in gold! Taking the time out to educate yourself about new techniques, methods and constantly picking up new tricks should become a central part of your process.
- The Film Maker’s Handbook, by Steven Ascher: This absolute classic, by Steven Ascher, is one of the most important books on filmmaking and videography that you can read and is used by film schools all over the world as mandatory reading for their students. It goes into great detail about everything from how to shoot an engaging narrative, produce powerful corporate films, shoot documentaries and even how to make your own experimental movies! Originally published in 1999 it has since been updated and re-released in 2013 to reflect the massive changes that the internet and digital technology has brought to the field of videography; so it’s as up to date as ever and covers everything you need to know in the present.
- The DSLR Filmmaker’s Handbook : Real World Production Techniques, by Barry Andersson: This excellent book is designed specifically for working videographers or freelancers who are aspiring to do so. It’s a top notch read which covers all the basics and a lot more. It explains how to go about selecting the right camera, details how to use it and get the most out of it too. It explains how to use lighting to great effect and gives some priceless advice about post production techniques, all of which you can start applying in your work today! It will tell you all you need to know about shooting weddings, corporate events and much more. If you’re using a DSLR to make video content then this is an absolute must read.
- The Reel Truth, by Reed Martin: This gritty no nonsense book covers all the potential problems that you might encounter when making a film, documentary or working for a client. Reed Martin not only draws on his own extensive experience but also interviews over 100 industry experts to glean the best real world tips, hints and things to avoid so that you don’t make the same mistakes that they did! It goes over a wide range of frequently made mistakes in shooting, problems with equipment to look out for and debunks some of the most common post production myths! One of the most enlightening sections is about the 50 most common traps that almost all filmmakers fall into at some point; and the good news is, after reading this, you won’t have to!
Ongoing Personal Development Is The Cornerstone Of Long Term Success.
No matter what genre you are working in, or planning to break into, practise is at the heart of a good work process that will set you up for a fantastic and exciting career in one of the most desirable industries of all! You’ll need a strong personality, the ability to think on your feet and a constant willingness to learn from your mistakes. The journey of learning never ends and so try to keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry, new techniques and perspectives as well as the best books available to help you on your way!
How do you practice videography?