Cameras don't create pro-level, high-quality films and videos, but here's what does.
What's one of the first things beginners do when they decide to become filmmakers? They buy a camera. They go bananas trying to find "the best" one out there. They read up on the newest releases, peruse at list after list of "Top 10 DSLRs for Indie Filmmakers," and watch hours of test footage on YouTube to see which ones offer that highly sought-after "film look."
However, what many budding filmmakers don't understand is that cameras, despite their ever-increasing dexterity and capability, aren't the main factor in creating quality cinematic images. So, what is the main factor(s)? In this video, John Luna talks about five aspects of filmmaking that will help you increase the production value of your film, as well as get you closer to the "film look."
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KMQ03SUqtQ
Don't feel bad if the beginning of this article described you to a tee, because 10 years ago, I was that budding filmmaker who thought a good camera was basically a tiny film factory. Once I compared my work to that of other, more skilled filmmakers, I quickly realized that the tiny film factory wasn't my camera, but me, and really, really, really bad one, at that.
Cameras can affect the quality of your image in some ways, whether it's by providing high resolution, frame rate options, or Log encoding capabilities, but other aspects, such as lighting, composition, motivated camera movement, and good audio recording are far more influential to not only the final look of your images but the final quality of your work.
Here are the 5 things Luna says will help increase the production value of your work pretty much instantly:
- Good lighting
- Adding depth to your image
- Good composition and framing
- Using an external mic instead of your on-camera mic
- Hiding edits with B-roll
And those are just a few suggestions. There are so many other things that will add value to your films and videos, like costuming and make-up, set design, creative editing, special effects, great locations, and most importantly, a damn good script. Yeah, get that expensive camera if you can afford it, but if you can't, don't sweat it. You can still make beautiful, engaging, high-quality films that, yes, "look like a film" without an ARRI Alexa, RED Dragon, or even a robust DSLR with a big sensor and high dynamic range, because you are the filmmaker here, not your camera.