We have an article today on how to capture the perfect shot. If you’re making a film or video of any kind, you need to read this article.
The term “movie magic” is a very generic way of mashing together all the nitty gritty that goes into creating a movie.
If you have ever made or tried to make a film, then you know all the difficulties that can happen behind the scenes and how difficult it can be to capture the perfect shot.
Bringing that image to life that you have in your head is sometimes difficult to convey in reality, but there are certain steps that you can take to help make it a little easier to capture those perfect movie moments.
Step 1: Be Prepared
To make the most of your time during a shoot, it is always best to come up with a shot list beforehand that maps out what filming techniques will be used for each scene.
This along with a pre-established shooting schedule can help organize the whole filming process and actually give you some leeway for extra shooting time or to fix unplanned hiccups.
Step 2: Get In The Right Mind Frame
Firstly remember that you are telling a visual story, and that it is important to focus on finding out how to best tell that story through your cinematography. So even if you want to create something in a distinct style, it might not be overall beneficial to the overarching story.
Second, be aware that the first shot you film in each scene is not always going to be your best work.
If you do not like how something looks at first don’t beat yourself up about it, instead be open minded and change things up a little by adding a new camera lense or trying to film from a different angle. In other words be open and receptive to spontaneity.
Step 3: Know Your Angles and Be Ready For Repetition
Filming is all about angles and repetition. If you want to be good at filming you have to practice or at least have a set up that allows you to try a shot over again in the exact manner you envision it.
Sometimes that can mean having a steady hand or having special hardware that helps you get to that desired frame. Don’t be scared to experiment a bit and try filming a few shots from a range of angles.
Just like when using a camera, if you take wide shots, you can show an actor in relation to the scene and if you have the opportunity to move around, do it and shoot the actor from different angles.
If you want to create more ambiance, Kav Dadfar an established photographer suggests using a “crowd as you can potentially use them in your shots, to add atmosphere to your frame”.
Alia Probst also puts it best when saying “Whether you want a shot looking down on a city or a young girl walking through a field, your approach depends on how you are holding your camera to accommodate the perspective of the photo.
You can decide whether you want the shot at an angle, straight on, or above or below the main focal point. Doing this allows you to focus on the person or item you originally wanted to focus on.”
Step 4: Know Your Camera
Like Previously mentioned, practice makes perfect especially when you practice with the camera you intend to use for your filmmaking.
It doesn’t matter whether you are using a professional video camera or a smartphone to film, practice with it beforehand and figure out which settings will make your camera shots fit your vision.
Step 5:Indoor vs. Outdoor Shooting
Depending on where you decide to film, whether it be on a set or on location somewhere, your preparation will vary. When filming indoors you have the ability to prepare the room exactly how you want it.
Outdoor shooting usually requires more research on your part as extra elements have to be added to your shoot.
For example if you want to do a sunset shot you have to plan ahead and find out what time the sun set will happen on that particular day and start setting up your equipment and prepping your actors at least an hour in advance to make sure your camera is ready to film within that specific time frame.
Sometimes something as small as doing a camera test beforehand can go a long way when filming.
Something else to consider when doing outdoor shots is that your lighting will also be affected depending on the natural light that is available and the direction which that light is coming from.
Lastly, take into account that there will be more shadows when filming outdoors. However there are a few lighting tricks that can help combat these issues like using a fresnel lens.
Step 6: Lighting
Lighting is a crucial part of the filmmaking process and can make or break your shot. To get a great shot ensure the light is aimed at your subject in order to draw attention to them.
There are also techniques you can use with light to amplify your intended effect as hard and soft lighting techniques create distinct feelings.
The closer your light is to your subject, the softer the light will be. Vice versa, the farther away the light the dimmer it will show up on screen. It helps aligning the items and shadows within the lighting of your frame to help make your actors pop.
Step 7: The Shot
How you use your frame is one of the most critical camera techniques. Whether it be moving that frame, or moving items within that frame. You want to keep things active and visually engaging.
In order to do this it is important to understand a few different types of shots you can perform and what they are best used for.
Let’s start off with a panning shot:
Panning shots can show the movement of characters moving from one location to another, and it can show some type of transition or progress in the story. In order to create a panning shot you usually need a tripod or a gimbal, as a pan involves swiveling a camera.
Similarly a tracking shot also portrays movement. A track shot usually involves a specialized sliding rig or dolly that moves the camera next to your focus point in a lateral motion.
If like many up and coming filmmakers you do not have the budget for a professional rig you can always buy, rent, or build your own. Afterall it does not matter how you create the shot but rather how it translates to the screen.
Ultimately it is the cinematographers intentions which are transmitted into any rig.
Bird’s eye shots
For a bird’s eye shot which shows a panoramic view but at a high angle, it is best to use this as an establishing or transitional shot.
I would recommend using a drone for this type of shot as drones are easy to control, monitor, and will give you a great birds eye view perspective.
Capturing the Perfect Shot – In Conclusion
If you keep these seven steps in mind you are sure to capture your own perfect shot. For a full range of cinematography techniques click here.
We hope you’ve found this article on capturing the perfect shot helpful. What are your top tips for capturing the perfect shot? Let us know in the comments below.