Have you noticed that little switch on your DSLR that looks like a movie camera? I first noticed it about 4 years ago when I got my first DSLR camera with video capability (Nikon d750). I took my kids to a park one day and recorded little clips of my almost 2 year old son. Looking back on it now, I made so many technical errors and there are certainly things I would do differently now, but I really treasure those clips. Watching my sweet boy toddle around so many years ago brings me much joy For my first attempt at editing, I used the program that came with my computer (iMovie) to practice linking clips together and layering music overtop.
Music for this playground video was licensed for free from Bensound
Time passed and I got busy as we all do. I forgot about that switch for a few years as I got busy with clients and honing in on my basic technical photography skills. As I got more comfortable with my photography I began switch video back on every now and then, especially when I was photographing my own family. I would start by taking “enough” pictures of cookie decorating to make sure I captured the essence of the experience, and then I would flip my camera’s switch to get a bit of video of the action. During this season of experimentation, I didn’t edit the videos together with music or spend time on post production. At the end of the year I simply strung all of my video clips together in iMovie for yearly family movie.
I wasn’t worried about the technical video jargon or making sure I got it “right”; I just wanted to capture my kids making memories with grandma.
I eventually decided I wanted to preserve some of these same moments for my clients during our sessions. Because my confidence was still building with respect to my videography skills, I would capture my still photos first and then I would switch the camera to video. I’d ad ask my clients to keep doing what they were doing or I’d ask them to repeat an activity that they had just completed. I wouldn’t even tell them about the video (that way if it was awful or I didn’t have time to edit it there was nothing lost). Just last Christmas I tried this for the first time during one of my family narrative sessions as they were making cookies. The family was unaware that I was shooting videos alongside photgraphing the experience and they were surprised and thrilled to receive this little video. Videos document the memory of the moment in such a unique way. As you watch the film, notice how the little boy licks his finger then puts it right back into the cookie dough! Ha ha!
Then slowly as I practiced more I expanded and explored video editing software and sound editing technique. I now use Davinchi Resolve (it’s FREE) for video editing. I have a music and sound effect licensing subscription to SoundStripe. I have been adding these onto my photo sessions now for a fee as well as booking video only sessions. I am also doing intentionally blended sessions where either my focus is on the photos and then the videos are “extra” or my focus is on the videos and the photos are “extra”. As with photography, filmmaking and videography is something where you begin small and keep adding onto your skills and knowledge bit by bit. I have many plans and ideas for 2020 and look forward to taking it one step at a time as I move forward as a filmmaker and photographer.
Here is one of my recent full length films of a family in Cincinnati that I captured during their Saturday morning routine. I was able to film the family doing all the things they love and cherish as their boys grow in their home and in the woods.
IN CAMERA MENU SETTINGS
(for USA, slightly different for other countries)
Video format – NTSC
Film speed– 30fps (frames per second) for regular speed and accurate audio or 60fps for slow speed (note: this can have jumbled audio)
Resolution– 1080p for full high definition
ON TOP OF CAMERA SETTINGS
Shutter Speed– double your frame rate (for example if your fps is 30, then your shutter speed should be 1/60, if fps is 60 then shutter speed around 1/120
Aperture– any is fine, but use to balance shutter speed
ISO– also use to balance shutter speed and aperture
Start with your shutter speed and then adjust aperture and ISO as needed for proper exposure. Your camera will record the audio with its built in microphone, but as you develop your skills you may want to consider purchasing an entry level microphone to attach to the top of your camera.
I really hope that my story of how I started will encourage you to flip the video switch on your camera a few times this month just to take away a bit of the mystery and get you to explore your camera and creativity a little more.