Sound is to microphone as light is to lens. Pretty basic common sense in filming, so why is it necessary to teach this stuff anyway?
Firstly, just because it is basic common sense, let’s not assume that everybody knows it. One of the first things I was taught when doing photography was that the lens of the camera was like your iris. Your iris (equivalent to the ISO on the camera) will expand to let in as much light as is needed in order for you to see. And while this is so your iris cannot create light that does not already exist. Similarly, your camera’s exposure can be set to the lowest or highest point in order to determine how much light is let into the lens. This is why lighting is so important in photography and videography.
Secondly, How much lighting and the type of lighting you have on a shoot can make a world of a difference with how your footage comes out. Aside from the obvious – low lighting equals dark footage – the lighting also affects the mood of the footage.
For example, a low light can sometimes mean suspense or horror and soft light can mean romance. Lighting helps set the mood of each scene and therefore is of vital importance when filming.
Finally, a great way to add light to your set without a bunch of expensive LED lights is by using props for lighting. So, in a romantic scene instead of adding light, simply use a bedside table lamp with just enough light to set the mood and light the actors. Or an even better way to save on both electricity and money is to film during daylight. The sun is still free…for now.
So I already told you what happened at my first videography class. By week two I was learning shots, angles and compositions and feeling like a full blown camera woman. Well, not exactly, but I did learn enough to know when a video or picture is not properly composed.
The types of shots you take will influence how your viewer interprets the story you are trying to tell. Though the final interpretation is clearly up to the viewers themselves, the videographer’s composition can make storytelling a whole lot clearer and effective. The emotion you portray with a medium shot is different from that done with an extreme close up shot.
I won’t lie to you, when I was finished with that class I began watching my TV shows through a completely different type of lens (if you may). My understanding and appreciation for certain scenes became more evident and I felt as if I finally “got it.” It was as if all along I had been watching television knowing that different shots and angles create a certain mood or emotion but the difference now is I know why they were used in the first place. I know now that when the camera zooms in on a tear as it slowly falls from a woman’s eye as she gradually loses consciousness after being shot (Castle), it isn’t a mere coincidence.
I take great care now in the way I compose my videos and the emotion I will evoke with each shot.
“Treat it like a newborn baby.” I’m pretty sure that is what my lecturer told us at the first class. Most of us found it funny until we really started getting into the care of the camcorder and the rules for the class. The list went something like:
- Make sure the lens are covered when you are not using the camcorder
- Walk with the lens facing backwards
- Charge the battery when you’re finished
- Don’t leave the camera in extreme temperatures.
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
After going through the long list and understanding the delicacy of the camcorder I understood why my lecturer would refer to it as my new born child. Within the same breath she also mentioned some other random items (or items I thought were random at the time) we should always have on a shoot.
- Tape – this is understandable
- A knife – to cut the tape? Ok.
- Newspapers – Are we job hunting on set?
- Garbage bags – now this is just weird.
Seems like the most random list of all time doesn’t it? Again, when further explained these lists really did make sense and were really necessary. Depending on the weather and just how unfortunate you are, you may need from anywhere between two to all of these things on your shoot.
My point is, never take anything your instructor says about your shoot and your camcorder lightly. In the video making world we deal with some of the most delicate equipment that need the most delicate care and attention. So, take care of your new born, don’t neglect your new born and guard your new born.