Step1 Choosing a camera:
Choosing a camera is the first step on your way to making videos that you can share on Vimeo. There are a lot of options to choose from including camcorders, simple point and shoot cameras, and nowadays cellphones with built in video cameras. Where do you even start? Check out the video below for a quick run down of your various movie making options.
Let’s review the main differences between cellphones and camcorders video shooting capabilities.
•Portability, you can’t beat being able to put a camera in your pocket that’s all built into a device that you’ll probably carry around with you most of the time. Cellphones are ubiquitous in our daily lives which means you won’t end up kicking yourself since you forgot to bring your camera on that night out on the town or whatever random adventure life might throw your way.
•Mobile uploading, if you’re just shooting short clips you can upload them directly to Vimeo from your phone. Just check the upload email address specific to your account, it’s right on your upload page.
•Image quality, cellphones have smaller, less sophisticated camera light sensors than camcorders or other dedicated cameras. That results in an image with less quality. You might not notice a big difference if you’re shooting outdoors in really bright settings, but indoors or at night those differences really start to show.
•Zoom, some cellphone cameras have what’s called digital zoom, but all it’s really doing is cropping the image which will just end up look grainy and pixelated as you zoom in. Most camcorders have optical zoom which allows you to zoom in and get a close and clear image of an object even if you’re far away from it.
•Sound, the microphone built into a cellphone will be somewhat adequate for picking up accompanying audio for your video, but if you want it to sound crisper, cleaner, and just plain better overall, then the dedicated microphone on a camcorder wins hands down.
•Viewing, both cellphones and camcorders use LCD screens to show you the image that’s being captured. Your camcorder comes with a viewfinder so you can focus your attention on what your recording. It’s also pretty handy when you’re shooting video outside on a sunny day, since your LCD screen will be covered in glare. Your LCD will also have icons on it to show if it’s currently recording video, how much memory or tape is left, and how full the battery is.
•Controls, camcorders come with manual features that give you more control over how your video will look. For example, focus. Being able to change how your camera is focusing images can really help give your videos the look and feel that you want. Additionally, the zoom manual control will help you get a nice smooth zoom in or out. Don’t forget that big red record button for capturing those great moments!
The right camera for you is the one that allows you to make the videos you want by giving you the tools and controls you need!
Step 2: Shooting Basics
So you bought yourself a camera or maybe you borrowed one from a friend, cool! Um, but how do you use it to make videos that look good? Shooting video well is a skill that takes time to develop but with a few simple tips you’ll find yourself on the path to movie magic. Take a peek at the video below for an introduction to those tips.
Let’s review some general tips to help make your video shoot go smoothly and your footage look awesome.
•Batteries and Memory, there’s nothing like seeing a great moment you want to capture, getting your camera all set up, and then not being able to capture it because you either ran out of battery or memory space. It can be really disheartening! Charge up before you shoot and make sure you have memory to spare for recording.
•Lens Cloth, a clean lens is a happy lens, so don’t let smudges get in the way of your images. Wipe any grime and debris off the lens at the beginning of your shoot. Don’t worry about buying one just for your camera, if you have glasses you can use the same silky smooth microfiber on your camera.
•Zooms, are great for getting a close view from far away or you can reveal a wider area by zooming out.
•Pan, rotating the camera laterally (left and right) while shooting is called a pan.
•Tilt , rotating the camera vertically (up and down) while shooting is called a tilt.
• Lighting , when you’re shooting outside during the day your primary light source is the sun. Your subjects will look better if they face your primary light source instead of having the source behind them or the subject will appear really dark (backlit). To fill in any harsh shadows you might have from the primary light source, you can use a white or reflective material to bounce your light and fill in those shadows.
•Plan your shoots, it’s a tried and true maxim that planning makes perfect. Think about the shots you’d like to include and then think about what’s the best way to capture them. With practice you’ll develop a better eye for planning out the shots you want in your video.
•Hold on your subject, let your subjects give your videos life. It can be hard to tell when exactly you should press that record button, if you’re just starting out though, try holding the camera steady for five seconds before you move it again.
•Movement in and out of frame, instead of following every little movement you’re trying to capture, hold the camera still. Allowing your subjects to move around within the frame and occasionally going out of it can be really helpful for giving a better sense of their motion.
•Reduce camera movement, the steadier your shot the more you can focus on the imagery and prevent nausea, it’s a win-win scenario. Try using a tripod or an available surface to rest the camera on while you record. If you don’t have either available try this, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, breathe slowly and hold the camera with both hands.
•Composition Pretend your screen has evenly spaced lines running throughout it, two horizontally and two vertically. The points where the lines intersect are where you want to have your subject. This is called the rule of thirds, for more details on it and composition in general check out this lesson.
Learning to shoot well takes time but you can start applying these tips now. Who knows, with practice you may blossom into a world famous cinematographer! You never know…
Step 3: Editing Basics
Editing video clips together can be really fun, especially once you master a few basic features in your editing program. With a bit of patience and experimentation you’ll be producing smoothly edited videos in no time. For an overview of what you can do in a standard editing program watch the video below.
Here’s a recap of the main concepts you need to know to use a video editing program:
From Camera to Computer, the first order of business is getting the video clips that you shot on your camera over to your computer for editing. Take either a USB cord to connect the camera to the computer, or just remove the memory card from the camera and put it into a card reader that’s connected to your computer. Once the camera or memory card icon shows up on your computer, it’s time to transfer all those video clips, that’s called importing. Next, open the icon that shows up on the desktop when the camera or memory card is connected. Then select the files you want to edit, drag and drop them onto the desktop. Depending on how large each video clip is and how many there are, this may take some time. Snack break!
Organization, sorting through all your video clips can be confusing so it helps to organize them with folders. Name your main folder something memorable that relates to the overall project. Within your primary folder you might want to further subdivide your clips by date, location, event, or whatever helps you keep your clips organized.
Back it up, your video footage is special, you made it, So don’t risk losing it. Make backup copies with either DVD’s or copy your footage onto an external hardrive. Should anything disastrous happen to your computer you have peace of mind knowing those memories and moments are safely tucked away on your backups.
Free and basic editing programs, both Windows and Mac computers come out of the box with free editing programs. For Mac’s it’s called iMovie, here’s a lesson to get you familiar with it. On PC’s running Windows you can use Window Live Movie Maker, here’s a lesson to get you off and running with that.
General editing program layout, almost all editing programs follow the same basic structure. First you have an area called a bin, this is where all the videos, audio clips, and even images you want to use in your video are stored for you to reference. Then there’s the timeline, the timeline is where you set the order that you want your clips to go in and where you’ll do all the trimming. Finally you have a preview window where you can view what you have currently selected in the timeline.
• Bin – where you keep all your files (video clips, audio, images)
• Timeline – where all the clips are cut and blended
• Preview – this is the small screen where you can watch what you have selected in the timeline
Getting started, your first step in your editing program will be getting your video clips into it. Generally you’ll see a control for importing, from there just select what you want to use in your project and when it’s done, the clips will show up in the bin area.
SAVE frequently, there’s nothing worse than spending hours editing something and then poof, it’s gone. Get in the habit of saving your progress a couple of times every hour, especially after you’ve made significant edits to the project. When you first start your editing project, you’ll need to name your project and give the project file a location to save it on your computer. Name your project something that’s relevant to you and again, save frequently!
Trimming, after all of your files are in the bin, you can drag each clip onto the timeline. On the timeline we’ll be able to trim videos down so we use only the most important parts of each clip. All you have to do is select where you want each clip to start and end and then use the trimming tool. Don’t be afraid to try things, the changes you make in your editing program won’t change your raw footage, all we’re doing is editing copies of that footage, so experiment!
Transitions, use transitions to blend clips together. To apply a transition, just select the one you want use and drag it in-between the two clips where you want it occur. This can have a drastic effect on the feel of your video so try out a few different types and see what helps to tell your story the best.
Text, adding text is handy for adding titles, captions, or credits to your video. To add text just select the text tool in your editor and drag it over the clip where you would like for it to appear.
Sound, can completely change the feel of your video. Whether it’s audio from an interview, or song that really suits the mood you want to create. To edit the audio portion of your video, look for a specialized control, something like sound and music. You’ll see general controls for fading audio in and out, adjusting the overall volume, and once your audio is on the timeline, you can control where it will start and stop in your video.
Exporting, once you’re done trimming and ordering your clips, adjusting the audio, smoothing out the transitons, and adding some text, you’re almost done! Now all you have to do is assemble all those edits into one big video file so you can share it and upload to Vimeo. This is process is called exporting or compressing. You’ll want to follow our recommended compression guidelines to make sure the video will look great online.
Wow, we covered a lot of stuff here! Give yourself sometime to let it all sink in, editing is a powerful skill and it takes time to learn it, but there’s no reason you can’t start out with a simple video project. Jump into it!
Remember to SAVE frequently, you don’t want to lose those precious edits!