The 9 essential things for beginning filmmakers

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In this video, we’ll cover all the things you should have when starting to make films or videos of any kind. These are the essential things you don’t want to be without. Filmmaking is a beautiful art, but there are many tools needed to be a filmmaker. When first starting out, you need a direction, so we made this video. Here are the 9 essential things for beginning filmmakers. If you make sure to have these nine things when starting out, you’ll be ready for the unexpected.

Starting off, we are going to assume you have a camera with media, a lens for that camera and a computer. These are the core tools you need for filmmaking and video production as a whole.

1: Camera support

Shooting handheld is great for many situations, but it’s not for every shot. That’s where proper camera support comes in. A fluid head tripod is best, but a monopod or a gorilla pod are solid alternatives. These will allow for steady shots with unique angles. The fluid head in particular makes leveling your shot simple along with smooth pans and tilts.

2: A bag or case for your gear

Protecting your gear should not be overlooked. Beyond serving as protection, a good bag or case is great when you can shoot out of it. This gives you everything you need at your fingertips.
Make sure to consider how you shoot to choose the right one for you. Some choose to have a big bag that holds everything, whereas others like multiple cases. Both work well for keeping your gear safe. If you travel often with your equipment, make note of any airline restrictions that may limit what you can bring onto a plane. It’s never good to leave your delicate electronic equipment with the baggage handlers.

3: Sunglasses for your camera – the ND filter

A neutral density filter – or ND filter – is a must for when light is abundant. Don’t try to control your exposure by increasing the shutter speed – it’s always best to set the shutter to double your frame rate. Instead, lower the amount of light going to the sensor with an ND filter. It allows for shooting a shallow depth of field even outside in broad daylight.

Additionally, they are what you need to be able to do a long exposure still image for a timelapse. If you are a camcorder or cinema camera user, you might find a built-in ND filter available to use.

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4: A 5-in-1 reflector

A 5-in-1 reflector reflector is an inexpensive way to improve your final image. A 5-in-1 reflector, as its name suggests, is five reflectors in one. You get white, gold, silver, gold and silver and diffusion in one. And if you get a collapsible one, they don’t take up much space and come in clutch for many situations.

Say you’re shooting outside and you have one lighting source, like the sun or a single light. Position your subject so that the light is lighting up one side of the subject. Then use the reflector to reflect the light back at your subject, so you can fill in the shadows cast from the light. This is where the white, silver and gold reflector are handy. We’ve seen reflectors used to shade a subject, diffuse the light on a subject or used to block the wind.

5: An external microphone

If you want high-quality audio, use an external microphone. The good news here is that there’s a huge selection of different microphones you can use. At first, any mic outside of the one on the camera you’re using will give you a better result. Dive a little deeper, though, and you’ll find there are two types of mics you will run into when starting out.
First is the camera top type. No matter what camera top mic you use, it will be an improvement. The biggest drawback of a camera top mic, though, is its location. For the loudest input, get your microphone as close as you can without being in the frame to the sound source.

That is where the second most common type of microphone, a lavalier or lav, comes in. A lav is a great option, that is if you can get them mounted to your subject well. If you need to hide the mic, like in a narrative film, use moleskin to tape them to a subject’s skin, under their clothes. Clip it onto a collar if seeing the microphone isn’t a problem, like on the nightly news, or during an interview. Make sure you place the mic where it won’t get unwanted sounds from long hair or loose pieces of clothing.

6: Headphones

Without monitoring what you are recording, you won’t know what is being captured by the mic. Use headphones to check the audio you are recording; don’t just trust the meters. You will not see unwanted sounds in the meters.
Closed-back headphones are best for fieldwork. They help isolate the listener from the sounds around them that they are monitoring. But, any headphones are better than none. Even the headphones that typically come free with your phone will work in a pinch.

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7: Gaffers tape

This black fabric tape tends to not leave residue from the adhesive. It is always useful. You never know what you can solve with gaffer tape until it’s all you’ve got, and then you’re glad you had it. We’ve seen it used to tape cue cards to the bottom of a camera instead of a teleprompter.

It’s the tool you need to keep your broken tripod from falling, allowing you to finish your shoot. You’ll use it to tape down cables to lower the liability of your set. It keeps everything in place, making it less likely something will happen to your cable runs. Don’t be without gaffers.

8: A small set of tools

You never know what you’re going to need to address while shooting, so it’s best to be ready for most things. A small set of tools will allow you to do minor surgery in the field instead of having to scrap the shoot. Fill the toolset with a flathead screwdriver, a small Phillips screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a crescent wrench, a flashlight, a set of Allen wrenches, a lens cleaner and a Puffer for dust. The puffer is necessary if you shoot on a mirrorless camera. Put your tools away when you’re done using them. Make sure these tools go to where you store them, so when you need them, they are at an arm’s length away.

9: Editing software

There are so many options in video editing software these days. Make sure the software you choose fits the work you are going to do with it. Every editing software will allow you to trim and cut between clips. But make sure they can add music, adjust the audio and export the video. Know your destination to examine what kind of export you need the editor to do for you
If you make sure to have these nine things when starting out, you’ll be ready for the unexpected.

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