Hey guys welcome to Fliqaindia, today we’re going to be talking about 5 things you need as a filmmaker. Now days a filmmaking is more accessible than ever before in history. You can buy a cheap camera and great lenses and get really high quality video even from just things like your phone recording 4k and all that it’s crazy nowadays. But we’re going to go through 5 things that we think every filmmaker should have to up your game and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to go to the store now and buy all these things at once. We think these are things to build up for and buy as you go along you know you do a few jobs, then you invest in some more gear and you do more jobs and invest in more gear. Also when it comes to investing gear, make sure it’s something that’s worthwhile investing in. There are a lot of things that aren’t really going to be that useful or you’re not going to use that often. The things we recommend you buy are things that you’re going to use on every shoot and these five things are some of those things that we use on 90% of my shoots.
First off, you need camera support and stabilizers. You need something sort of a Tripod or a Monopod or Glidecam, so your footage isn’t all shaky all the time. One of the most important giveaways that the assembly quality isn’t very high is shaky footage, especially that small micro-jitter that happens in a lot of DSLR cameras. But you can easily eliminate that with something like a monopod or a tripod or a Steadicam or Gimbals or whatever suits your project. Each tool has a different purpose. Sometimes we want a monopod, sometimes we need a tripod and it just needs to be locked off, sometimes we’re using a gimbals or a Steadicam or sometimes it makes more sense to have something like a shoulder rig. But we find that the most useful pieces of equipment for us have been a monopod and a Glidecam.
A monopod is kind of like a tripod, it just has one leg. The better monopod have little feet on the bottom, which make it a lot more stable and cut out a lot of that jitter, but it also helps you to do smooth movements with it, and not get any shake while you’re doing the movement. If you don’t have the feet on the bottom, it’s a lot shakier, and a lot harder to do smooth movements with a monopod. If you want to do weddings or any kind of live events or any kind of run a gun, we highly recommend getting a monopod; it’s totally worth the investment.
Next we would invest in a Steadicam. We really like the glidecam steadicams, they’re just really well-built, and you can get them really cheap, especially the older versions. There is not much difference between the new and old versions in my opinion. We can be a little bit hard to get used to at first, especially the balancing process, but it’s not too bad; once you get the hang of it, the balancing is super easy and quick. You’re never going to run into any problems with it malfunctioning like a gimbal might have, so that’s why a lot of times for running gun shoots we really like the glidecam, because we can always trust it. it’s not going to break in the middle of my shoot and it’s just really durable, easy to travel with and what we like to do is we have a Manfrotto base plate on the glidecam and so that way we can take the camera really quickly and easily from the glidecam and put it on the monopod or switch back and forth. This has been my saving grace when we shoot weddings. We shoot weddings by our self usually and this allows us to go really quickly from monopod to glidecam, depending on what’s going on in the situation. So for any event videography, we might highly recommend a monopod and a glidecam, simply because they’re very easy and quick to figure with. You can really move around fast and get tons of cool shots.
Next you need good sound. People can forgive a lot with image quality in video but bad sound, it’s just terrible to watch and listen to. It’s just so distracting, you can’t pay attention and it’s just really not a good experience. So you really need good audio. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to invest in a little shotgun mic that goes on top of your camera. This can be really versatile to capture are talking, if it’s close enough or just ambient sounds and it will really help your production quality when it comes to sound, rather than just recording straight into the camera. If you’re doing any talking head interviews or anything with somebody talking you’re going to need to invest in lav mics. Now there are tons of different options for lav mics nowadays, but we should go for a wireless setup. We’ve used these sennheiser lav mics for a long time now. We don’t even know how many years ago we bought these and they’re still super good, no issues with them and just really helpful in so many situations to get good audio. If you want really high quality, for let’s say an interview or anything like that then we would recommend the Rode NTG3 mic. That’s what we’re using right now, super high quality and just a great tool. Shotgun mics are much better than lav mics at getting the nice base in the voice and those warm tones. But both are good. A lot of times we use both at the same time, just to make sure, so we’ll have a lav on the person and the shotgun, so if something goes wrong with one or the other or one mic picks up the sound better than the other in that certain situation, then we have that backup. So sound is super important, should be one of the first things you’re investing in.
Next we would invest in lenses, especially really fast ones and what we mean by a fast lens; it’s a lens that can go to a really small number aperture. This means that you can get more depth of field and create more cinematic shots and also if you’re shooting in really low light conditions, you can get a lot more light into the camera with a fast lens. So these are really crucial and lenses are a great investment because they don’t really drop in value over time that much; they kind of hold their value and especially if you buy them used, you can a lot of time sell them for the exact same amount or even make a little bit of a profit, depending on what quite of deal you bought once you bought it. So definitely invest in a good lens. One of our favorite lenses that we use all the time, that’s filming right now is the Sigma 18 to 35 1.8. Now it only works on crop sensor cameras, but it’s a great lens. It’s one of the fastest zoom lenses there is and it just has a really nice look to it. We also like wide lenses much better than zoom lenses. We find that there are just much more versatile. With zoom lenses, you’re always getting that same kind of close-up shot most of the time, unless you’re just really far away from the subject but with a wider lens, you can go up closer, you can get nice wide shot, just get a wide variety of shots. So if there was one focal length that you had to get, we would say go for a 35 mil. But the Sigma18 to 35 just covers a really nice range.
Next we would buy a filter, specifically a variable ND filter. When you’re shooting video, you would like to always keep your shutter speed to double whatever your frame rate is. Sometimes it is so bright outside and you would like to shoot shallow depth of field, a smaller number aperture and it’s just way too bright, so what you are doing is you use an ND filter to form it darker which way you‘ll keep your shutter speed at double whatever your frame rate is and still shoot at a shallow depth of field. This is one of the biggest tips to getting nice cinematic footage outside, especially when it’s really bright out. Another thing we find is that digital sensors on cameras these days are just way too sharp and so we like to use filters that kind of soften things up a little bit and bloom highlights just a little bit. We like to use what’s called a Black satin filter from Tiffin and what this does is it softens up the image just a little bit, to take that edge off that digital look, but it still keeps all that fine detail in it. That’s one of the big reasons why we think Hollywood didn’t switch out of film to digital for the longest time, was just that the dynamic range and the highlights just weren’t as nice as in film and Still a lot of people shoot on film in Hollywood. So a variable ND is a must and if you want to make your image even better-looking, we would say buy something like the black satin filter or a black Pro mist, which may be a bit more intense than the black satin filter.
Lastly, we would say invest in lights and luckily for you, LED lights are just taking off and because they’re becoming so popular, it means that the quality of LEDs goes up and therefore cost is coming down. We really like the aperture Light storm light. We have three of them and we use them on all kinds of shoots, high production and low production, they’re just really handy, really powerful, with a high CRI value, which means that the color isn’t going to skew in your videos too much to green or magenta or anything like that. One of our favorite things is that they can be controlled through a remote, which is super handy when you’re working as a one-man band, you can set up your lights and then you can just dial them in as you’re looking right at the camera. So you don’t always have to run to the light and then come to camera and look at what it looks like and then go back and forth this way you can see exactly what your changes are doing and do it all from behind the camera while you’re looking at your image. They’re super handy we highly recommend aperture lights. Now they are a bit pricey, so lights are one of the things that we wouldn’t invest in necessarily right away. But if you’re doing a lot of interviews or anything like that, we highly recommend getting these LED lights. But you will use just about any light, as long as you’re using them properly and using diffusion and different techniques to actually enhance that lighting. We’re want to be going through some different lighting techniques later on to help you guys out, if you’re doing any interviews or short films or anything that you need to light. But we think lights in general are one of those things that you can easily rent for pretty cheap and you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars into them. But again if you’re using them everyday then maybe it is something that’s worth investing in. Like for us, these aperture lights, we use them all the time, almost on every shoot nowadays, including right now, so they’ve really paid off for us.
Once you get into higher quality productions, where the budgets are higher, and a lot of your gear you can actually rent to the production. So on top of your day or package rate, you can add in let’s say your camera rental or lenses or your lights. So these things can actually become a source of revenue for you. So that’s an important thing to keep in mind when you’re doing bigger budget projects. What kind of things can we rent to the production and make money back from and then hopefully it pays off the light or the lenses. Now notice we didn’t talk about investing in a fancy camera. Cameras are just so high-quality nowadays; even the lower end consumer DSLRs, they just have really high quality video in them and when you pair that with a nice lens and nice audio and good lighting and good filters then you will get a very top quality image out of these cameras.
We know some people who make amazing films that you would never believe are filmed on a cheap DSLR camera. So don’t worry so much about investing in cameras. We know it’s not good to say “invest in filters and microphones,” but those are the things that are going to make a big difference in your production value, whereas the camera is going to make some difference but not as much. Like if you’re going to invest all your money into a 2 lakhs camera and you have no good lights or good sound, then your videos are still going to look like crap, because you’re not lighting it properly and the sound sucks. So nobody cares that you’re filming it on a ten thousand dollar camera and it’s also really easy to get caught up in gear, always thinking that “oh, if we just had that lens” or “just had that camera then we would be super good” and we mean it helps but it’s just not true. It really depends on how you use those tools. People have even filmed feature Hollywood films on just an iPhone and with good quality audio and good lighting they were ready to do amazing thing.
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