Primer for the Beginning Videographer

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Step 1 Equipment

Videography is a deceptive yet engrossing activity. It looks so easy to do and good video is like eye glue – try to look away! But there is a lot more to making a good video than just point and shoot. This primer is the first installment to making short videos.

With all the POV (point of view) cameras on the market (underwater) videography appears to be just point and shoot right? These cameras do a pretty good job of capturing your action and, with drag and drop video editors, producing decent video your friends would be eager to watch.

It’s this simple: go buy a POV camera, mount it to your helmet, press record and start driving down the road. An hour later, with a little computer work, and you have your video!

Trouble is you just made the most boring video you hope to never see again! Or you have just taken an extreme bike ride down a mountain and the video makes your eyes feel like bouncing Ping-Pong balls. Or your audience is now seasick after watching your latest fishing adventure. And then there is the snorkeling video that looks like your wearing cyan glasses, is out of focus, and mostly recorded how a cork would feel on the ocean.

What went wrong?

Well mostly just lack of experience and practice. But we all have to start somewhere. This series of blogs intends to help you get started and move beyond the point and shoot mentality into producing quality (underwater) videos you would be proud to show your friends.

So to get you going there is some basic equipment you will need to buy.

  1. Camera. It can be a POV, a camcorder or a DSLR. Pick one that fits your style and budget. Talk to your camera store, they can help you pick the best fit.
    • Pick the POV if your preference is to shoot action videos from your perspective. These cameras a pretty versatile and are typically a fully automatic camera. They have to be if they are mounted say to your surfboard and take video. They are rugged and usually come fully prepared to take on the elements out of the box.
    • Camcorder. These are very video friendly cameras. They give you all the control and flexibility to shoot from surf video to weddings. They typically have power zoom, and operate from automatic to fully manual.
    • DSLR (Digital SLR). The big plus to a DSLR is it is a camera as well. However they are a camera first and a camcorder second. They have become very popular and take amazing stills and video.
  2. Housing. This is a must if you plan to shoot underwater or surf videos using a camcorder or DSLR. Again, talk to your camera store and make sure you buy a camera that there is a housing for! Of course if you are getting a POV many times they already have a housing that is waterproof (like the GoPro).
  3. Lights. If you are going to shoot underwater buy the brightest ones you can afford. Buy two, you will need them when shooting wide angle.
  4. Accessories. Your dealer will help you with the accessories. These are the various hardware items, mounts, arms, brackets, cables and other things needed to make a fully functional rig work, especially underwater.
  5. Tripod. An absolute must for many kinds of shots. Shooting video means steady video (unless you are a Blair Witch fan) so invest in a good tripod. You can go without but eventually you will see the error of your ways. So buy one as soon as you can. If you plan to shoot underwater buy a tripod designed to work in this environment.
  6. Stabilizer. These are popping up for everything from an iPhone to DSLR cameras. These are mechanical devices to take the movement out and give you steady video. They range from integrated ones by DJI for its Osmo camera to handheld stabilizers big enough for larger cameras.
  7. Software. You need something to import, assemble, edit and publish your videos. There are many popular editors to choose from. Pick one that fits your budget and the kind of video you want to make. Many POV and camcorders come with free software that will work great for most projects.
  8. Computer. You need a pretty good computer and lots of storage and a card reader. Don’t forget to have a backup strategy!
  9. Music. Research royalty free music web sites. If you know a band willing to give you rights to use explore this. Be wary of using your favorite band, if you don’t have rights, don’t use it!
  10. Sharing. Subscribe to a video sharing site such as: Youtube or Vimeo.
  11. Equipment bag. You will need something to carry all this to your next shoot.

Do you need all this stuff? Well you can skip the lights, underwater housing, and accessories if there are no plans to shoot underwater. If you want to start with a simple rig just get a camera and play with it, the rest will come along as you gain experience.

Now you have the equipment. Learn how to use it. Play with it and get used to setting it up and breaking it down. It should become second nature. Don’t worry about creating any kind of polished video at this point just shoot!

In my next blog I will talk about creating videos. How you go about it and what to expect.



Mike Elliott videographer, Salaya Beach Houses Dumaguete

Mike Elliott - Underwater Videographer
Mike Elliott - Underwater Videographer
Underwater Videographer

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