Making Movies

Now try video - Canon

My New EOS 1200D, Guide 6: Now try video

Now that you’ve found out how to take better stills, it’s time to stretch your creativity with video.

The good news is that your camera captures great video, though the shooting style is a bit different from photos. You need to think about the story you want your video to tell and then capture separate elements to take that story from start to finish.

What’s the story?

We all enjoy watching videos that are shared online, but the best ones are those that tell a story, even if it is just a few seconds long.

If this is your first time shooting video, start with a simple story to practise. We chose a story about making a cup of coffee, as this simple story is one that you can readily follow and will help you think about structuring your own movies.

We have put together a series of short clips to create a simple 60 second movie. You could do the same showing a member of the family say, trying to put up a tent, or baking a cake, or preparing a meal. Watch the video and count the seconds to the next scene change, you might be surprised how often you will see this in most videos.

Shoot in short sequences

Virtually all great movies are a series of short connected clips. For example, rather than zoom while recording the movie it is better to shoot a short clip then move the camera around and shoot a second clip from a different position or distance. Make one of your first shots a wide shot to establish the context of the movie; then follow up with a series of closer shots to focus the viewer’s attention on the key subject of the movie. Add additional elements by going back to the wider view.

One important part of filmmaking is having enough footage to edit with. Make sure to shoot some short clips of related but not important elements, so called “B-roll”. These clips help to connect different sections of the story.

Don’t forget the rules of composition that were covered for stills (Guide 1: What is composition?), they apply for movies too. Remember, most movies are shot and watched in landscape, whether on a television or computer screen.

What about the camera settings?

Starting Movie mode on your camera is simple, just turn the Mode dial to the Movie position.

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You can leave the camera to automatically take care of the settings while you concentrate on making your movie. However, there are some useful options you can access easily by pressing [Q].

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Resolution and frame rate (1)

Movies are a stream of individual frames, so it is important to decide on the resolution and frame rate. In most situations it is best to shoot with full resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) at 25 frames per second (fps). The frame rate is particularly important to avoid a flickering effect if you are shooting indoors with AC powered lights.

Video Snapshot (2)

Video Snapshot sets the camera to film clips of specific short durations, 2, 4 or 8 seconds, ready to be edited in the camera. The clips are saved to the memory card to be played back as a single movie.

Automatic or manual exposure

When filming movies with your camera you can choose automatic or manual exposure. Automatic exposure is usually ideal, and ensures the camera settings are optimised for each scene.

Just like when you are shooting photos, set the aperture manually when you want to control the depth of field; how much appears to be in focus in front and behind the point of focus.

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When you are filming a person use an aperture of f/4 to f/5.6 to separate them from the background. For wider scenes and action you will need more depth of field, so choose aperture values of f/8 – f/16 to make more of the scene in focus.

Where to focus

You can let your camera automatically determine where to focus when filming, but if you want absolute control then you can choose to manually focus. If you select manual focus, remember to focus before filming each clip.

You have a choice of focussing methods; either to automatically identify faces and track them or to choose a specific point in the frame to focus on.

It’s sound as well as vision

Sound is one of the most important elements of great movies; some say it’s even more important than the pictures. Before you start filming listen carefully for the background noises – your brain filters the background noise out, but the camera won’t.

The built-in microphone on your DSLR is sensitive and will record audio from the environment around the camera including your voice as you operate the camera controls. If you are filming an interview moving the camera close to the interviewee also positions the microphone closer for the better sound recording. Remember the person using the camera is often closest to the built-in microphone so needs to keep quiet.

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Extra battery

Movie shooting uses more power than stills, it is best to have a spare charged battery with you.

Memory cards

Movie files are continuously written to the camera’s SD card while recording, so it is best to use cards with a fast transfer speed.  Cards that are labelled as Class 10 or UHS-1 are the best for movie recording.

Tripods and Image Stabilizer (IS)

Tripods are ideal to keep the camera still when filming. It is really distracting for the viewer if the scene wobbles around during each clip. If you have a lens with IS and film with the camera on a tripod it is best to switch off the IS by sliding the switch on the side of the lens. Remember to switch the IS back on once you’ve stopped using the tripod.

Watch the sequences that make up a movie scene

Try watching a scene in a TV drama or Hollywood movie and count how long each sequence is in that scene. The average length of a sequence is just 4 seconds before the perspective changes. You should try to do the same.

Shoot, share and view with #MyNewCanon #MakingMovies

Now you are ready to make a movie try using Video Snapshot to knit several short clips together into a short story, then share with other EOS owners on Facebook using #MyNewCanon #MakingMovies.

Share your results

Try filming using Video Snapshot, and share your best clips.