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When your passion and perhaps your livelihood is the creation of quality videos for people’s events, you probably have some heroes. Martin Scorsese is somewhat of an icon because he is known for his stylistic videography in his movies. Now, you don’t necessary need as much style as a Scorsese gets in movies that win him academy awards. But such professionals who are both precise and very good at their work and creative in how they get their shots are an inspiration to the rest of us.
So how can you go about becoming your own version of “Scorsese” in reaching higher standards of professionalism in the video you do for your customers or friends? Well, sometimes you just have to go back to basics
When you go on a shoot, think of yourself like you are going on an assignment into a war zone. Of course, hopefully, nobody will be firing guns at you. But like a battle, you have to be totally prepared going in. There is no calling “cut” if you are filming your son’s first baseball game. You will get it or not on the first take so your equipment has to be ready and you have to be ready. So think through some of your pre-shoot preparations for the big day.
Inspect, clean, repair and test your equipment the night before. Make sure you have any support materials such as batteries, lights for your flash or if you use a lamp to accentuate indoor shots. And think through the various ways your equipment may have to support you and how you can support it?
What if something needs electricity but is too far from the outlet? Bring extension cords. What if you need more electricity then plugs are handy? Bring power strips. What if have extension cords where people will walk? Bring duct tape. What if you have to get that duct tape up fast? Bring a good knife or cutting blade. It pays to play these situations out in your mind and be prepared as you go to battle.
Framing a shot so it looks good in the final cut takes some talent and skill to get what you want where you need it to happen. If the scene is very active, like a sporting event, you need to be able to move, set, shoot and break down and do it again and again all day long.
That means your equipment has to be light and self contained but you need to be armed to swap things out on your feet. A well prepared supplies bag that you can get into, swap out a lens, a battery or other needs on the fly is essential to being that mobile. And you have to know your equipment so well that you can literally lock and load in seconds so important shots don’t leave you behind. Some practice with your camera, tripod, lights, supply bags and anything else you have to have for such mobility will pay off big time during the shoot.
You may have cringed when you saw the word tripod but get used to it. Don’t cut corners on this “accessory”. The tripod should be as flexible as your body so you can drop it for a ground shot and have it up and set quickly each time you need to reposition. But despite the “bother” this might cause, the tripod alone may make your shots 100% more professional.
Knowing your gear and being prepared are the two top commandments of producing high quality professional video. It may not make you a “Scorsese”, but it will take you a long way in that direction in the improvement you will see in your work.