Video advice for a complete amateur

Discussion in 'Filmmaking' started by snegron, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. snegron

    snegron Mu-43 Regular

    May 9, 2013
    SW Florida
    I have never shot video before on a digital camera other than an mpeg file or two with a point and shoot camera I had a few years ago.

    I currently have a 3 month old G5 kit I am not happy with (long story), and in lieu of selling it for a ridiculously low price or giving it to my kids who have little/no interest in photography I'm thinking about maybe using it as a video camera.

    Where do I start? The instruction manual is equally frustrating as the G5 itself, so I would like to know if there are any basic video books or online tutorials I can read to familiarize myself with the basics on how to shoot video.

    I don't have any intentions on aspiring to shoot anything remotely close to professional video as that is a high level art form unique unto itself which requires years of dedication to master. All I want to do is to shoot and edit the occasional family road trips.

    Also, I don't want to spend money on an expensive video editing program (Adobe is at the bottom of my "like" list after their decision to squeeze us out of monthly payments in order to access newer versions of Photoshop).

    So, any suggestions for a complete video newbie would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    The bad news is the G5 does not have a manual video mode, which is a real bummer for 'serious' video. Now I have seen video done on all sorts of devices, it's not a deal breaker, but it is very unfortunate.

    That said, my take is that there's one very key thing that distinguishes photo from video. Photos happen in the moment; they're captured as we see them and the image/memory is created then and there. A lot of us go out with a camera and find something to photograph, not knowing what we're looking for or what we'll end up with.

    Video does not work this way, not really. Video is created in editing, on a computer. Creating good video requires a plan, and the field work is collecting the raw material needed to follow through on that plan. Even when you just go out to shoot whatever unplanned event, you need to collect enough raw material to produce the final result at home and create a coherent story in the end. This takes some getting used to. When you set out to do video, make a plan. Think about the shots you'd like to get and the story you'd like to tell.

    Oh and one more thing -- don't get swept away by the tech. There are an incredible number of videography gadgets out there, far more than photography. Rigs, mounts, lights, mics, accessories, etc. Ignore ALL of it. These things are junk unless you know what you're trying to fix with them, and in order to know what to fix you need to create videos first.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. ApGfoo

    ApGfoo Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 10, 2012
    Bay Area
    Before thinking about continuous video lighting, external audio, editing software, first practice getting good shots.

    When starting out in video, we have a tendency to pan too quickly hand held causing most of the shots to be unusable or jarring.

    One of the first steps is to take a good series of non shaky footage. Keep your shots fixed and don't pan or tilt yet. Have your shots at least 10 seconds long before you stop recording. The reason being you want enough footage if you were to transition it to another clip and so you can trim to keep only the best part of the clip. Also limit your shots to wider focal lengths (produces the least shaky footage) for now.

    Even though you'd be shooting with a short focal length, vary your shots between long establishing shots up to super close ups.

    Once you have a good grasp of taking varying degrees of steady shots you can start Telling The Story.

    For instance, if I see a couple relaxing on a park bench, I'd start out with an establishing shot of them. Then take medium shots of them at different angles. Some also maybe eye level or even shot closer to the ground and tilt up depending what I'm after. Then shoot a close up of each person and try to get them when they smile or laugh.

    Other than the long shots to close ups you can take B-roll/cutaway shots to set the scene more. These shots don't have our subject(the couple) in frame but can show the surroundings like kids playing or the swaying of the trees, etc. to get a better feel of the environment our couple is in.

    Combine all these shots into your editor and trim them up as you like. That alone can create a good video and we didn't even think about adding a music track under it or have any video transitions or work on color correction.

    Here is a great video to help anyone out that helped me out as well. It's more conceptual than about what gear to get and the like.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. snegron

    snegron Mu-43 Regular

    May 9, 2013
    SW Florida

    Thanks for the link! Definitely good steps to follow after I learn the basics.
  5. snegron

    snegron Mu-43 Regular

    May 9, 2013
    SW Florida

    Thanks! Hopefully I won't get swept away by the tech as I have with still photography over the years. :smile: I have way too much basic stuff to learn before thinking about advanced techniques which require more sophisticated equipment.
  6. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Both Promit and ApGfoo have excellent advice.

    The number one mistake video amateurs make is moving the camera too much{except those with iPhones they hold them sideways! :doh: }.

    Avoid unnecessary panning or tilting or even worse ZOOMING. Let the action play out in front of the camera and move only if you have to follow the subject or to add movement to a stationary subject. Don't move fast!, unless you are making a war, horror or crime drama. You want slow and constant movement with a smooth stop and start. Try to avoid zooming at all and if you must zoom do it very slowly.

    The next thing to think about is sound. If the sound that is happening when filming is important then you will need to record the sound. Sadly the on-board mics are almost useless. They tend to pick up everything including the noises that the camera makes. If the sound isn't important then you can add a nice song in post. If you have to record audio while filming make sure to stay close to the subject with the camera pointed towards them. Be careful and avoid making any sound yourself. If there is a lot of ambient noise you will pick it up but even with high end software it is almost impossible to get rid of.

    I do recommend you find a halfway decent video editing program. It sounds like you use PC so I have no idea what you should get. If you were a Mac user iMovie would suffice.

    Not sure what to recommend as far as books as all I know are aimed at the more serious end of video production and editing.
  7. DanSullivan

    DanSullivan Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Real Name:
    Dan Sullivan
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    with all due respect, i suggest you find another hobby... from what I have read across your many threads I don't think photography and you are a good fit. You seem to be in a constant state of frustration at the most basic level.I would love to help you .. .but you are down a rabbit hole I cant reach

    Photography is about making an image, video is a whole level of difficulty above that, involving weaving moving images together to tell a story.

    Nowhere in your posts have I seen evidence of just what it is you are trying to achieve.

    The mechanics of photography are simple... find a subject, frame that subject in an interesting way and capture it.

    the last part of that process at the most basic level is now idiot proof... the other 2 parts are as challenging as they ever were, but no amount of technology will ever replace them

    cameras dont take photographs... people do


  9. snegron

    snegron Mu-43 Regular

    May 9, 2013
    SW Florida
    No offense taken. :smile: I guess your suggestion for me to find another hobby is about 30 years too late! :biggrin:

    Not that it matters, but I have been shooting professionally since 1985. Back then I used film; first 35mm then 120. I started as an assistant to a public relations/press photographer way back in the early 80's then transitioned to weddings in the mid/late 80's. I was shooting "photojournalistic-style" weddings back when the style was traditional posed photography. :rolleyes:

    When the digital craze started I transitioned to a Nikon D1X. I shot many weddings with a pair of D1X's, never had any complaints from paying customers. I did my own post processing with Photoshop, printed my own work.

    I found the grind of wedding work was sucking the fun out of my once favorite hobby (photography), so I slowed down a bit. I still do occasional weddings but not as a primary source of income. Here is a link to my website
    Home Page

    I now prefer to spend my weekends with my wife and kids. We enjoy road trips, have resident annual Disney passes (a 3 hour drive from home). I can take my Nikon gear with me on our road trips, but my preferred Nikon "kit" (gripped D200 with Nikon 17-55mm 2.8 AF-S DX and SB800 Speedlight) is somewhat heavy for travel purposes. So I have been searching for that "perfect" travel camera.

    That search led me to m4/3. I was disappointed with my Olympus EPL2 as it was cheaply made and was defective. Not one to give up so easily, I waited and decided to go with the G5. I'm sure that from the many posts I started here you can tell I'm not happy with the G5. It is not the perfect travel camera I hoped it would be. Since I don't expect to recoup the money I spent on my G5 kit, I decided to try shooting video with it. Amateur, weekend family road trip video. Hence, the title of this post.

    p.s. Here is a shot of my G5 kit. Not a professional image by any means as I don't do studio work (not my style :wink: ) I might post it on Craigslist if the whole amateur video thing doesn't work out.

    G5 for sale.jpg photo - snegronspics photos at
  10. nagual

    nagual Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2012
    Very interested to watch that video BUT the link doesn't seem to work.
    Can you post the name of the video so I can search on Vimeo for it? Appreciate your response

    ... after all it loaded for me, go figure it. Thanks
  11. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Real Name:
    Bruce Foreman

    Sell the G5 but keep the 45-150 if it's m43 mount. Go for the G6 (B&H has it for $629 new an one used in 9+ condition for $534.95 if you move fast and beat others to it), the G6 is much improved over the G5 (kind of the GH2 replacement). The G6 video implementation includes the auto modes the G5 had plus the same full manual mode (which is easy to use once you get the hang of it) and this camera will let you "grow" into almost anything you want to do.

    Disregard the "naysayer", he means well but you seem to have plenty of background to apply to video.

    Get the G6 and have fun with it.

    "Eat Beef!"

    "The West wasn't won by salad"