Including backlighting, camera movement and framing


1. Story

Firstly you need a good story, stories create connection, build trust and allow the viewer to enter the story, making them more engaged. Storytelling involves characters who engage the audience and make us care what is happening in the story. The equipment you choose to use can make characters look good but will never elevate the story or touch the emotions of the audience if it is bland. For more info on this you can check out our other blog on storytelling here

2. Location

Choose a location that lends itself to the story you want to produce. Think about colour, texture and creating curiosity. My favourite place to film is outside in nature, but it's also very fun filming in beautiful indoor locations, people's studios/workshops or homes especially. I think one of the most important things to think about when filming inside is the colours that are in your shot, keep it to a few colours that look good together, but also remember this isn't a steadfast rule.  All locations have different quirks for example if you want to shoot at a beach you might get a lot of wind noise and direct sunlight. If you want to shoot in a town you'll have background noise, traffic and people walking about.


3. Backlighting

Backlighting looks very cinematic. A backlight hits your character or an object from behind. It is placed higher than the object it is lighting. Backlights are used to separate an object or character from the background. They give more shape and depth. Backlights help the frame feel three-dimensional. The sun is a great backlight - you can use a reflector to bounce the sun at a lesser intensity back the subject.

4. Get close to the light

Keep your character close to the light, the closer you are to the light the softer the light is and try and get as big a light source as possible. 

5. Film the shadow side in an interview

For a more cinematic interview try filming from the shadow side of your subjects face.


6. Add camera movement

Adding movement to your shots not only looks great aesthetically it can also help your storytelling. You can use it to reveal locations, give your project a sense of exploration, make the edit flow and add kinetic energy.  In aesthetic theory, the nature and quality of beauty can be measured in terms of "energy". Things that can add to an image's aesthetic energy are colour, size and shape, symmetry, and movement. According to the theory, a composition that contains something that is moving (or appears to be moving) tends to have more aesthetic energy than a composition that contains something that is still. If you have to shoot in a quite dull location movement can help with this! 

7. Create a foreground or frame within a frame

Using something in the foreground can make a massive difference to a bland shot, by creating depth which our eyes love! You can use tree branches, windows, doors anything which creates a frame around your subject or part of it. Using the frame can also highlight the underlying meaning within your story. A lot of films use frame within a frame to show isolation or imprisonment, such as in the film American Beauty when columns of figures on the computer screen represent prison bars and the main characters reflection is on the screen.

8. Lens flare

Lens flare adds drama and is technically an error, but it can be a beautiful one and can add an ethereal, dreamlike effect to your videos.  In order to achieve this shoot during golden hour, get rid of your lens hood and shoot into the sun.


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