What did you learn from movies

The REAL Beginner's Guide to Filmmaking

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Do you want to learn how to record and edit videos and turn them into a film? Then you are right here. I will show you step by step what is actually important in order to produce good videos in a relatively short period of time. Don't be afraid, making videos isn't as complicated as it looks at the beginning.

What do I need to film videos?

That is probably the question that everyone asks themselves at the beginning. Most people think that video production is very expensive due to the misconception that expensive video cameras and camera lenses are necessary for good video quality. However, camera technology and the production of videos have changed a lot in recent years. Many smartphones now deliver breathtaking video quality and are actually used for more professional video recordings.

You don't need an expensive camera or expensive equipment to record videos. I myself filmed for years with the Sony Rx100 M4 and won several short film competitions with this compact camera. That brings us to the next question.

Which camera for filming?

As I mentioned in the previous question, you don't need expensive video cameras to start filming. If you don't have a budget, you can also use your smartphone as your video camera. The megapixels or the various technical indicators of the camera shouldn't be a priority for a beginner.

The best video cameras for beginners

The RX 100 is an excellent compact camera with excellent quality (see video). It is very suitable for the first video projects because it is very easy to set up and you can concentrate fully on the filming process. The camera is priced at around 700 euros and is definitely a good camera, which I can recommend with a clear conscience, as I use it myself for video projects with my customers. In addition, the camera is very compact and light, which makes filming very pleasant.

The Sony Alpha 6400 is a mid-range system camera. Here you have the opportunity to experiment with manual focus. Various lenses can also be used. However, if you choose this camera, I would recommend the basic kit with the standard lens, as it can save you money. As you may have already noticed, the lenses sometimes cost more than the camera itself. At the beginning of your film career, as I said, you should concentrate on the filming process and on capturing the right “frame”.

Filmmaker Basics - The Components of a video

How is a video structured?

Video films today basically consist of sound and image (video). Of course there are also silent films, but this technique or this type of film is only used in very specific films in order to arouse special impressions and emotions.

What are frames in videos?

The so-called "frames" indicate the images per second (FPS). So in English "frames per second". A video consists of individual images. Only the rapid flow of many pictures one after the other arouses the feeling of a moving picture in us. This means that the higher the frame rate, the higher the FPS (number of frames per second).

Which frame rate to choose for videos

You can't just say which frame rate is the best when filming. The rule of thumb is that the frame rate when captured should be the same as the final video. In other words: Movies at the frame rate in which you want your final video.

To the human eye, 24 FPS has the most natural movement. Hence this frame rate is used by the film and cinema industries. Everything below 24 FPS has a "chopped movement" and is not suitable for videos unless you want to consciously achieve this effect. Anything over 30 FPS also works unnaturally quickly and should be avoided. Here, too, what do I want to achieve with my video and how do I want it to apply?

How do I record slow motion videos?

To achieve slow motion effects in videos, you have to film in higher frame rates and "slow" the speed down to the output frame rate in a video editing program. This means that if you want your video to have 24 FPS at the end, you can record your slow-motion scenes in, for example, 100 FPS and slow them down to 24 FPS. The filmed video should now be around 25% of the actual speed. I will write my own article about this, I wanted to briefly introduce you to the logic of the frame rate.

My personal recommendation in a table:

This table could be expanded, but as a beginner I don't want to burden you with a lot of detailed information. The best thing to do is to take a screenshot of it or write it down so that you can implement it while filming. If you want to read more, I have written an in-depth article on this.

We have put together a list of books for you with in-depth knowledge from experts on the subject of "Learning to Film & Videography".

In which resolution should I shoot the videos?

Difference between HD and 4K?

Everyone is talking about 4K. Yes, 4K offers more details and yes the quality is higher in 4K, but I would not recommend recording in 4K at the beginning.

Reasons why you shouldn't record in 4K as a beginner:

  1. 4K consumes much more storage space, which means that very large amounts of data in the terabyte range can be reached immediately at higher frame rates.
  2. Due to the large amount of data, you need a very powerful computer to be able to edit the video files later.
  3. Are many cameras or smartphones of the middle class not designed to film long 4K? Either the battery power is insufficient or the processor gives up the ghost.
  4. Because you can capture more detail in 4K, filming is harder in and of itself. Every single shake has a greater effect on the footage. Especially at the beginning I like to see such mistakes

What is the shutter speed (the exposure time)?

The exposure time is the length of the exposure to which the sensor is exposed. 1/500 is 1/500 of a second in which the light hits the sensor. In other words, 1/500 shutter speed lets less light into the sensor than 1/250 shutter speed. To really achieve a cinematic look, the shutter speed should always be twice the frame rate. I wrote an in-depth article on this, which you can find here.

Recommended shutter speed settings:

What is the ISO?

ISO stands for "International Organization for Standardization". It is nothing more than a digital adjustment of the video camera to add extra brightness to the image. However, you should be careful with the ISO, because the higher the ISO, the more quality the image loses. You should always try to shoot at the lowest ISO.

What does light intensity (aperture) mean for a lens or camera?

The focal ratio of an objective or lens is called the photographic light intensity. The wider a lens can open, the more light the lens lets through. The opening of the lens is a special feature for videographers.

  1. It lets more light through, so less iso is needed.
  2. If the lens opening is wide, there is a special depth of field. The background becomes blurred and the subject or person you are filming is highlighted. So I recommend buying a lens that has a wide lens opening.

Therefore, if you want to buy a lens, I recommend buying a lens with a high light intensity. The lower the "f", the greater the light intensity. Take a look at the following picture and you will understand what I mean by that.

ATTENTION: The "brighter" a lens, the more likely it is to be overexposed. That's why I recommend buying an ND filter, but I'll write my own post about that.

What is the best way to learn filmmaking as a beginner?

If you want to learn filmmaking, you don't necessarily have to graduate from a film academy or degree. Some of Hollywood's finest directors and filmmakers learned the art of videography by "doing" it. I've written down a few exercises here that will help you get “the eye” for videography.

Consciously watch movies to learn how to film!

You heard right. Watch films consciously and analyze the individual scenes. Try to recognize patterns, such as how the actors were received. Can you only see the face or the whole body? What music do you hear in the background? In Chinese culture, the imitation of the master is considered a work of art. Only when you can imitate the master do you develop your own steps. That's why I recommend this to you too. Watch whole films and then try to internalize certain scenes. Write down the details and then try to shoot the same scene with your camera.

Which microphones are suitable for video recording?

There are many good microphones that are of excellent quality. In the beginning, however, I wouldn't buy an additional microphone to go with the camera. Your camera microphone should be sufficient for your first few videos, unless you want to record dialogue or conversation.

Then I would recommend an external microphone. You can use your smartphone as an external microphone medium and buy a clip-on microphone. You simply place the clip-on microphone on the person you want to film and hide the cable inside their clothing. The person puts the smartphone in their pocket. Both your camera and your smartphone record the sound, in post-production (video editing) you now synchronize sound and video by layering these two on top of each other. As you can see, this procedure is a bit “tricky”, so I'll do an article of my own.

How do I edit videos as a beginner?

The videos are cut with a video editing program. Editing videos takes a lot of practice. As mentioned in the text, the video consists of different parts, the video, the noises and possibly also the music. These elements must harmonize with one another and form an overall picture. Again, I refer to the previous point. After you have watched the films and analyzed the scenes, you can try to "recut" the editing and the mix of the videos. Over time you will also get the feeling of a composer and understand the connection between editing, video and music / sounds.

We have started a video series on the subject of video editing. You can find part 1 of the video editing series here.

Which video editing program is best for beginners?

There are many good video editing programs out there. Both Windows and Apple have their own free video editing software pre-installed. WindowsMovieMaker and IMovie are good video editing programs for learning the basics. I would recommend you not to spend any money on these software, especially in the initial phase. Personally, I cut my first videos with MovieMaker and then switched to MagixVideo Deluxe. I think the video editing software from Magix is ​​great because it is cheap and easy to understand, especially for beginners.

Choosing the right video editing software can be tricky. We have therefore dealt with this topic in a separate post and listed the best programs for you in this post.

Today I use Final Cut Pro X and in 2015 I bought a MacbookPro especially for video editing. But as I said, these assets would only make sense if you are already familiar with the other tools. But if you have the necessary change, you can of course also start with the video editing software that you want to use for a longer period of time.

Before you buy a PC or laptop for video editing, you should read this post and we'll show you which models we recommend.

As a beginner, what basic equipment should I have for video production?

A camera (or smartphone), a memory card, and a tripod should be sufficient for your shots for your first few shots. As a memory card I would buy a 128GB or 256GB card to have enough space for the videos. With the tripod, I would not recommend you to take the most expensive one. Manfrotto offers very good tripods at reasonable prices. I've also had a Manfrotto tripod for years and I'm very happy with it. That's about it, I wouldn't invest more because you're in the early stages. Over time you will realize what you will need and so you can increase your consciously or carefully considered camera equipment.

Can I start filming with my smartphone?

At the beginning of the article I mentioned that it is now possible to film with a smartphone. In fact, you only need your smartphone to record videos and edit or cut them directly on the mobile phone. I can give you the video course on this "Handy goes Hollywood" recommend. This costs only 49.99 euros, but you get all the learning content you need to shoot professional videos and films with your smartphone. You can find the course here.

Summary: Video Filming Basics

As with photography, it is also important to gain practical experience with filming. The first recordings may not be in the professional league, but you will see that you will develop the right feeling in a relatively short time. As mentioned several times in the post, I recommend that you do not break your head with details in the initial phase. Take your video camera and go out into the big wide world. Film as much as you can and analyze your videos afterwards. At the end of the day, the following checklist will give you so that you can control these factors during the recording or after the filming.

Most important factors when filming

The best thing to do is to print out this table and take it with you to your shoots. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and I am happy if I have helped you with my tips.

You can find more articles about filming on our website filmen-lernen.com