February 28, 2017

Watch: 6 Tips for Photographers Who Want to Get into Filmmaking

Here are some helpful tips for all of you photographers looking to cross over to filmmaking.

Though photography and filmmaking are very similar crafts there are definitely inherent technical and artistic differences, and if you're a photographer looking to get your cinematic feet wet, you might want to learn a few of them. In this video from Mango Street, videographers from White in Revery share some tips on how to make the transition from photographer to filmmaker a little more smooth, as well as what to look out for when capturing moving images. Check it out below:

Here are the 6 things the video says you should pay close attention to when transitioning into filmmaking:

Frame rate

Choosing your frame rate is an important decision when shooting a film. As the video points out, the cinematic standard is 24 fps, so chances are that'll be the setting you'll most often use, though you may use 60 fps or higher for slow motion shots.

Shutter speed

In photography, motion is but an illusion, but in filmmaking, it's a reality. The right shutter speed setting depends on the kind of shot you're trying to get, as well as other factors, like light and frame rate and ISO setting. However, the idea, for the most part, when it comes to shutter speed and filmmaking is to try and get a natural looking motion blur, and the rule of thumb to achieve this is to set your shutter speed at twice your frame rate (or as close to it as possible). So, for example, if you're shooting at 24 fps you'd want to set your shutter speed at 1/48 second.

Picture profile

In order to give yourself as much control over the final color grade in post, you'll want to adjust your camera settings so that you can shoot the most neutral picture profile as you can. This way, you'll be able to preserve the most color and dynamic range, which will make things easier when you head into post.

Focus and aperture

The video makes a good point: you might be used to shooting shallow depth of field as a photographer, but that's not always ideal when shooting a film. Not only is that look not right for a multitude of scenes and cinematic moments, it's also difficult as hell to keep a moving subject in focus.

Sequences

This is a concept that may be more challenging for those who have worked solely in photography. Sequences are one of the building blocks of a cinematic story and constructing an effective one, one that delivers necessary information, as well as clearly and concisely orients the viewer within time and space, is extremely difficult. You'll need to pay close attention to how you transition from shot to shot, from place to place, from subject to subject. Depending on what kind of project you're working on, each sequence should have its own narrative arch and unpack a piece of vital information that the audience didn't know before. (That bit may not be relevant to, say, a wedding videographer, but if you're shooting a film, that is visual story economy 101. No wasted scenes.)

Stabilization

One thing you may realize when you make the jump from photographer to filmmaker is that the number of stabilizers that you now have at your disposal is insane. You've got tripods, monopods, gimbals, cranes, jibs, sliders, dollies, drones, and so much more. It's important to choose the right stabilizer for your project and there are many factors to consider, but to give some general advice, you probably want to get your hands on a tripod, a slider, and maybe a handheld stabilizer if the price is right. Those three pieces of gear will help you capture the majority of your shots. Gimbals, cranes, dollies, and drones are next level stuff, but if you're ready and got the cash, they're also worthy investments.

What are some other tips for photographers looking to get into filmmaking? Let us know in the comments!     

Your Comment

8 Comments

I'm deep in that transition--or, rather, diversification--right now, having done a couple decades in photojournalism, and it seems to me the two most important points are missing--

1. Audio. That's the most important by far. There's no video without being at least competent in that skill, and boy oh boy is it different from shooting stills. It's a fun challenge approached with the right attitude (and some decent kit), but it's a huge challenge nevertheless, presuming you can't always hire a real pro to do it.

2. Keep your visual style, but jettison your shooting habits, even down to how you move, with extreme prejudice. If you shoot video like you shot stills, you'll screw yourself regularly.

March 1, 2017 at 3:28AM, Edited March 1, 3:31AM

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Audio - I couldn't agree more. I have had a few "discussions" online because I recommended buying pro audio gear and use whatever is left of your budget for a camera. I still stand by that....

March 1, 2017 at 12:00PM

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I don't want to take away from the importance of audio, however I've never had a producer ask what mic I'm using.

March 1, 2017 at 3:59PM

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Is that to suggest good photography owes its merit to the lens that was used? Not sure I understand the point. From what I've learned, a good mic doesn't do much to compensate for inexperience.

March 1, 2017 at 4:48PM, Edited March 1, 4:54PM

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Dave to be fair ...nothing compensates for inexperience...the point in this sub-thread ...are all the things that are important in a transition from photography to video .. audio was left out...

March 1, 2017 at 8:30PM

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Nakeen a couple of thoughts ... this whole topic is more geared to a one man band or very small crew, aside from that ... i will suggest that the first time your "producer" tries to sell the client a beautiful image, with crap audio ..he will no longer be a producer .. IMHO

March 1, 2017 at 8:34PM

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Good points for sure. Audio is of course super important, but I really wanted to make sure we covered the visuals first. I think we'll give audio its own tutorial because it is so vital to a good video. Thanks for your feedback!

March 1, 2017 at 4:41PM

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Good post nevertheless, though, I didn't mean to sound like a jerk. I just wish I'd realised the depth of the audio dilemma when I'd started, and devoted much more time (and yes, money) to that.

March 1, 2017 at 5:06PM

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