Hello coolvictor,


Hello coolvictor,

Everybody here has given excellent advice and comments.

All I can do is to comment from my own experiences as follows:
1. Editing can’t fix everything;
2. Good camera work and cinematography can’t fix everything;
3. A balance needs to be struck: the more effort spent on good camera work and cinematography, less work will be needed during editing to try to correct mistakes or to spruce up the footage, and the time is more effectively spent in using editing to best tell the story from the visual perspective.

To begin developing good camera working skills, experience is an excellent teacher, and a good way to start learning is with still photography. Using your phone’s camera,take as many still pictures as you can, trying to keep in mind the camera angle, composition, framing, lighting, use of perspective, considering lens distortion and the ‘rule of threes’. After downloading the images, classify them into, say three categories bad, mediocre and good. Take a break to clear your mind, then come back to each category and ask yourself questions such as ‘Why does this shot look bad or mediocre?’, ‘In which area(s) (camera angle, composition, framing, lighting, use of perspective, considering lens distortion and the ‘rule of threes’) did the shot fail to achieve the goal of looking good?’, ‘How can I improve the area(s) for next time?’

With the good shots, experiment with the exposure, contrast and brightness settings, and color grading to see how this changes the artistic atmosphere or the mood and feel of the image.

From a Photographic and Cinematographic perspective, the best natural light to bring out ‘warm’ (reds, oranges and yellows) colors is during the afternoons on a clear or partially clear day.

Once you feel you’ve learned all you can from still photography, the next step may be to adapt these methods to shooting video, remembering that with still photography you look for the best possible picture, and with video/film you also look for motion.

The next phase of learning involves using zoom for establishment shots, close-ups to assist the audience in concentrating on a particular subject, working with a tripod, tracking a moving subject, and with a large image sensor format camera using bokeh.

Further learning in Cinematography involves learning the proper use of neutral density and color filters, to help bring out the ‘warm’ colors and as much detail such as textures as possible, or to give a certain artistic atmosphere to your footage.

Remember that whilst learning, it’s Ok to follow the rules as kind of ‘training wheels’, once your experience grows it’s fine to bend or break the rules to achieve the look you want on your footage.

The selection of the video editing tool is dependent on your personal work flow preference, choice of platform/work station (smart ‘phone, tablet, laptop, desktop) and the advise different people give you. Some video editors include color grading, audio editing and mixing tools.

Personally I use Cyberlink PowerDirector 14, and here is a Video I edited on an Australian Black Swan:

I shot the footage on an overcast day and the original video looked kind of foggy with washed out colors even though I used a Tiffen Sky 1A filter to bring out the ‘warm’ colors and a circular polarizing filter to reduce glare from the lake’s water surface, and due to my primary or ‘A’ camera being a fixed lens consumer grade JVC full HD camcorder, there was little head room because camcorder AVCHD codecs use 8 bit color; good professional grade camcorders use 10 bit color. This is why there are blue and magenta hues in some of the scenes.

The next phase of learning is how to obtain good audio or sound. Whilst an audience is willing to put up with mediocre video, they won’t tolerate poor sound quality.

The Videomaker web site has excellent articles to read on all the topics covered by everybody in response to the question. Videomaker also has a good forum where people ask questions and in reading the answers other folks have kindly provided I expand my own knowledge, to help make my videos look their best.

YouTube also has a library of ‘How To’ videos covering different areas of film making, from which I have learned from carefully selected examples.

Different people learn differently, some can read a Videomaker article and can do the hands on work straight away. Other people need to read the articles to provide a solid grounding on the techniques, then watch ‘How To’ videos to reinforce their learning.

Whichever learning approach works best for you, and regardless if you choose to remain an amateur or decide to become a professional, remember to have fun, and as your experience grows, allow your creativity loose by experimenting with the craft. Film making is one field where art and science freely mix to obtain new and interesting ways of visually telling stories.

I would also encourage folks to study the way other film makers filmed certain shots; one example of a study in motion and excellent camera work, is the scene in the original Magnificent Seven movie in which the character Calvera (played by Eli Wallach) rides and jumps over walls, and the camera crew does a top notch job in tracking the motion. The sequence starts from 1:21 to 1:27 in this clip:

Other aspects of the clip to learn from, is how the Cinematography and scene lighting were done to bring out the ‘warm’ colors and the texture details of the walls.

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