This is a guest post from one of our customers, Hydra Creative, a web and marketing agency based in Sheffield, and is written by Simon Gamble, their video production manager.
With the average visitor spending more time on a website with video than without and with video counting for around 50% of mobile traffic, it is now more important than ever for businesses to embrace the digital age and get in front of the camera lens. Think creatively and have fun – engaging with your clients is a great way to stay in touch and show yourself as an industry expert.
For the beginner, video cameras and their settings can seem impossible to make sense of, so it’s a good idea to read your manual and get to know your camera inside out and familiarise yourself with the settings. Venturing away from the automatic settings can be daunting, so we’ve designed a quick guide to help budding videographers get the most out of their camera.
1. Depth of Field
Depth of field is an important tool for separating your subject from a background. Backgrounds may distract viewers – especially in instances where there are vibrant colours or a lot of movement. In this situation, you can blur out the background by decreasing the depth of field.
To achieve this look, you need a lens with a manual aperture. The aperture (or f-stop) dictates how much light hits your camera’s sensor. By increasing the amount of light, you’re able to reduce the depth of field, which in turn blurs anything that isn’t in focus.
Start by reducing the f stop to as low a number as possible – the lower the number, the more light you’re letting hit the sensor. Then focus on a subject or object in the foregrounds. By focusing on a foreground, you’re able to blur out anything in front of or behind your subject.
The two examples below show the difference between an f/22 and f/4 shot. Notice the background is completely blurred out at f/4, whereas it’s still recognisable at f/22.
This is a great technique to instantly add variety to your shots, but use it sparingly as viewers may become disorientated.
Lighting plays a key part in any production. Like depth of field, the right lighting can help to lift your subject from a background and it can also help to create a mood in each scene.
For example, low key lighting can help to create a sense of tension by isolating subjects and removing all lighting from the environment around. Different coloured lighting can also help to cast moods in your scene; blues create a cool feel and yellows/oranges help cast sun-like warmth.
Many directors and cinematographers use stronger, more abstract colours like red and green to help provide contrast throughout a film.
In the examples below, we’ve chosen a couple of different lighting setups that help to cast different looks.
Ambient Light – this uses just the light available. You’ll notice it’s hard to distinguish where the outline of our lead character is.
Hair Light – A soft, subtle light is introduced on our lead character’s hair. This helps to provide some distinction between the subject and background.
Side Light – An increase in light source from the left of frame helps to further lift our character from the background, casting light onto the cloak. The light in this instance is placed to the left of the character.
Top Light – A top light helps to lift the parts of our subject that are towards the top of the frame – in this instance the hair. The light is placed directly above the subject.
Flare Light – A flare light works by projecting light straight down the lens. In this example, this not only backlights the main character but creates a light haze around the centre of the frame. This helps to set the characters in the background back.
Perspective and Angles
By changing angles and perspective your viewers are able to gather more information from your shot. For example, by positioning the camera in a low angle you’re able to create a sense of the subject looking over or scanning beyond the frame. Subconsciously, it also creates a sense of authority, by positioning the character above the viewer. Low angles are achieved by positioning the camera lower than your subject and pointing upwards.
Another shot example is the medium shot, typically this positions the camera on the same plain as your subject. By positioning the camera at eye level, you create a sense of equality – by reading into eyes (and looking into the soul). These shots work well for capturing character emotion.
The final example is a high angle shot. This is typically the most unnatural of the three – inducing a voyeuristic feeling in the audience by positioning them over the subject. These shots can be used to hide the subject’s view from the audience, or to reveal a vast expanse. When used subtly, they can also give a sense of empowerment over a character.
We hope this has given you some great ideas about how to make your videos visually more exciting!