Video is hot right now. High end gear that, only a few years ago, was only available to the cashed up few is now accessible to the masses. This and the fact that the web is filled with teaching resources combined with greater than ever demand for video content has lead to a huge increase in the number of filmmakers hitting the scene. There are now fewer barriers to entry than there have ever been and if the video industry is something that you’re interested in, well, it’s an exciting time to be alive.
But with all the information out there it’s hard for people new to video to know where to start. I’ve written this short post to help people take the right first steps. I’ve been in the video industry for over ten years and in that time have made wedding films, created corporate videos for websites right up to Directing and Producing TV Commercials. I want to give you some practical tips to help you be successful in the video industry.
Jack of All Trades
I’ve seen tremendous changes in the industry over the last decade and perhaps one of the most significant changes is the need to be able to function at every point of the production chain. It used to be that you would go to film school and study one particular subject and then specialise in that. But with decreasing budgets and increasing competition you need to be able to be fluid when it comes to video. One day you might be on a big budget TV Commercial job with 10 – 20 crew helping you, the next day you might be all by yourself filming an interview for a corporate video and the next day you might be doing a logo animation for one of your clients. To have the best shot at achieving in this industry and ensuring you have a steady income, at least in the early stages of your career, it’s important that you have a base level of understanding of each part of production. Yes, you should specialise in one or two particular areas, but it’s highly advantageous if you can provide a wide range of solutions when you’re starting out. When you begin landing bigger jobs you can outsource the tasks you’re not so keen on and hey, you’ll have a great understanding of how all the production elements fit together and you’ll be able to effectively communicate with the different departments you’re working with.
Exposure is incredibly important. I’m not talking about getting exposure for your work I’m talking about what you expose your creative self to. As a new filmmaker you need to start building a library of images, films, sounds, design elements, art etc that you respond to. It’s important that the art you look at and engage with resonates with you. It will seep into your subconscious and start to form your artistic style. There are many great online resources for curating your own collection of art. Start some boards in Pinterest , use the ‘watch later function’ on Vimeo , save music you like on Soundcloud and Musicbed
Once you’ve started exercising the creative side of your brain you’ll want to get started making your own films and for this you’ll need a camera. There are countless camera options available these days ranging in price from a few hundred dollars right up to $100,000 plus camera solutions. If you don’t have a lot of money to begin with, start making films with you smart phone – as crazy as that sounds some very high profile brands have had entire campaign created using only an iPhone, take this film from Bentley for example. If you have a bit of cash you can go for a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. One of the best entry level cameras out there is the Panasonic GH5, at just over $2,000 this little camera packs a lot of punch – the image quality is beautiful and the camera has a lot of tools to help you capture awesome shots. Next up is Blackmagic’s URSA Mini which will set you back almost $10,000 (once you have purchase batteries, cards etc) but if you have the money this is a great camera for it’s price point. In fact the image quality produced by the URSA Mini is so good that a lot of big name commercial directors are using it on some of their jobs instead of more expensive cameras. There are so many options for cameras but I want to finish this section off with this piece of advice, don’t get caught up in the gear! Yes do your research but don’t set up the often imagined barrier in your mind that you can’t make good videos until you have the best gear. The key to a good video is how effective you are at telling the story. The expensive gear will come but in the mean time develop your story telling ability.
Again, there is a lot of software out there for the video industry. You can start editing videos for free using iMovie if you have an iMac. If you need something more advanced you can purchase Final Cut Pro. Another brand is Adobe. Adobe is my preference as it not only has software for video editing but it also has animation software, photo editing and graphic software and all these programs work seamlessly together. You can sign up for Adobe programs on a month to month basis.
AP is a video editing program that allows you to edit, colour grade, add basic overlays and edit sound. Premiere has been around for a long time and is an incredibly robust editing system.
AF is an industry standard motion graphics program. This incredibly versatile system allows you to create animated titles, add special effects to footage, colour correct footage, create 3d scenes along with a plethora of advanced functions. As I said above it is crucial that you are a jack of all trades and having the ability to create even basic animations will really set you apart when it comes to winning jobs. There are thousands of AE tutorials on YouTube but hands down the best resource for AE training is Videocopilot most people who use AE owe their skills to this website. It will probably look quite overwhelming but if you start with the Basic Training you’ll be given a great understand of the basic underlying principles of AE.
These are just a few tips I wanted to give to help people starting out in the exciting world of video and film. I’ll be posting more tips along with industry secrets soon all with the intention of helping you find success in this exciting industry.