Fundamental tips to help novice and student filmmakers film movies better
After the development of photography and the invention of cameras, the next technological demand was to be able to record moving pictures. This quality alone, distinguishes photography from filming.
Cinema is one of the most powerful forms of media and has evolved into an art form that allows the finest expression of personal thoughts (next to music and writing).
The best way to start filmmaking and sharpen your skills at filming is through amateur photography. There are several elements that collectively make a movie an example of cinematic excellence.
For the beginners here are some tips that might help them with filming.
- The Art of Storytelling
Every movie or a documentary, tells a story which is centered on a specific set of events and characters. Every story requires a strong introduction, a body and conclusion.
These basic parts of the story are tied together in a bunch with continuity.
Continuity is hence really important and can come either naturally during the events of filming the movie or when you arrange the scenes in a specific and planned order on the editing table. Start with a plan before you shoot the movie.
Imagine the various scenes that would link up your story. The best way to do all this is pretty simple: start with an introduction, with or without a narrative and follows the action accompanied by a few scenes that make your story more engaging. Add some good music to bring your film to life.
You might then shoot a scene or two that would lead the story towards the
climax. After properly establishing all the events in the movie, all you need to do is present the climax.
- Cinematic Techniques
For the people who are trying their hands-on filmmaking for the first time, here are some cinematic terms and techniques that might come in handy to make the scenes more powerful and dramatic.
Pan refers to the horizontal axis of a camera when it moves from right to left or vice versa. A pan can be conceptualized simply by standing while looking straight and moving your head from left to right. This technique is used in scenes that feature a wide panorama that doesn’t fit in the camera frame.
Panning can be used in several way like showing a wide terrain, follow characters and vehicles and in horror movies where panning is used to shock the audience with a sudden appearance on screen.
Tilt refers to the vertical movement of the camera where the camera pivots up and down. It is usually used in a manner similar to a pan except it is used to show tall objects and structures.
The tilt can be used to show the height of structures such as skyscrapers and citadels and in a reverse motion from up to down can be used to follow characters and events.
3. Dolly Shot
One of the most commonly used techniques, dolly shot is also known as the
tracking shot where the camera simply moves forward, towards a specific object, place or character. In professional productions, the dolly movement is guided by a track system which eliminates a shaky camera movement. Dolly movements can also be created with handheld cameras provided the camera operator has a really steady grip.
4. Pull Focus
A really effective technique created naturally by a camera, pull focus works on the way our vision does when we look at two different objects at different distances from a single field of vision. The camera can be focused either on the object closer to us or the object far from us. The focus can also be shifted from one object to the other to create more dramatic effects in a movie.
A pretty familiar technique to most people who have used a camera, zoom alters the camera’s focal length. This allows transitioning from a wide shot to a close up without moving the camera. Zoom can be used both ways.
Changing from wide shot to a close shot is referred to as “zoom in” and
transitioning from a close up to a wide shot is known as “zoom out”. It is also a very cheap alternative to the dolly movement when a track and a trolley aren’t available for use.
Transition simply refers to changing from one scene to the other as the story progresses. There are various types of transitions that are used in cinema, each with its own unique qualities that affect the degree of storytelling.
The most common transition is a cut and it is almost unnoticeable to the
audience. It is a seamless transition which can be used to make really wide time jumps in a story. Dissolve is another common transition style where the image slowly fades out to reveal the next scene till complete opacity is achieved. Fades are also used very frequently in cinema. The screen might either fade to black or white. There are several other colors like red and blue to create dramatic elements like imagery of blood or cold.
When talking about amateur filmmaking the above techniques and terms are the most helpful to make your scenes more engaging and provide the right amount of emotion to them.
This article was published with permission from Eric O’Connell, the founder and CEO of OC Music CO, a major production music licensing platform for content creators. With his twin brother Steve, he founded OC Music CO understanding music’s unmatched power to reach audiences, unite the divided, and influence the unreachable. Today they are recognized internationally as a vital agent in the music industry with their team of 29 hand-selected world-class production music composers.
The power of music is real. Watch the short clip below to see how.
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Film movies better | World-class production music | Philanthropist