Hot Takes to Spice Up Your Camera Work
Updated: May 8, 2022
As I go through my college education, I'm realizing more and more than there are some things that should look cool for camera tricks but end up seeming boring because literally everyone uses them. Not to be dramatic, but if I have to sit through one more video project where somebody thinks turning the light off is a good way to fade to black in a scene, I may have to fade my eyeballs to black with a fork.
Here are some great ways you can spice up your next video project with things my video professor would probably yell at me for!
Tip #1: Auto-focus is Your Friend!
I know, I know, put your pitch forks down. Not every "auto" feature on your camera is there to make the manual look better. As somebody who has to film himself a lot of the time, being able to use autofocus is a huge deal! There is nothing worse than setting up a shot only to realize after the fact that the entire thing was out of focus.
Take my advice, if you're alone, invest in a camera that has good autofocus. I personally use a Lumix G9 with a 25mm prime lens. The G9 has a lovely option that will track a person's eye and use that to focus the image. Is it perfect? No. However it is way better than having a fully blurred image.
Tip #2: Don't Always Shoot in Manual.
This one goes out to both my photographer and my videographers. Consider this a double shot of hot sauce for these spicy takes. Before I came to CMU, I went to Bozeman, Montana and attended a Lumix group convention where we could better learn to use our cameras. The #1 tip they recommend is to have your little buddy on auto instead of full manual when out and about. That way, if something amazing happens, you can capture that image in the blink of an eye instead of dealing with all these confusing settings.
Sometimes, as camera operators, we forget engineers sometimes know how to do their job and the auto feature isn't always the devil.
Tip #3: Ignore the Histogram.
Look man, I get it, we all want our videos to be perfectly lit and color coordinated. Sometimes, that will work against you and limit your creative outlook. Sometimes, the shadows can be darker than normal. As long as you can up the exposure in post and the highest highs are crushed, who cares if it's not completely perfect on the histogram? The point of being a creative individual is... wait for it... creativity!
Sometimes, it's okay to not follow the rules with camera work. That's how you can make your own rules! Become educated in camera work so you can throw it all away and forge your own path.
Want some advice on camera movements? Check this out!