Film Making Blog

Top 5 things to improve production value

Published on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Top 5 things to improve production value

When it comes to improving your production value, the lowest return on investment comes from buying a more expensive camera. You can go out and buy the best $15,000 camera money can buy, your videos, and films will still look amateur. Why? Because, it's not the camera that makes your film project look good or professional. Sure you may look more professional while shooting the event, but your final product will be very low quality. 

Here are the top 5 things you should invest in to improve your production value the fastest

1. Lighting. Lighting is magical. When there is sufficient light, your camera can take higher quality video and have much sharper images that don't have any noise. You can shoot at lower ISO and not force the camera to add noise or grain. The higher the ISO, the lower quality the image. If you are coming from a video world, ISO is equivalent to "gain". The lower the gain, the better the image. Even if you want to film night scenes, you can take video that is well lit in daylight to get the best images, and then color correct it to make it look like a night scene. That's not hard. No night scenes in any movies are shot in the dark, they are all well lit and edited to look darker. Invest in some lights. CFL lights are cheaper than LED and give you perfect daylight balance (5600k) illumination. There are some cheap LED light sets, but the colors aren't perfect yet. The advantage with LEDs is that they can run all day on batteries. Most 2 light kits can be had for under $100.

2. Tripod. You don't have to spend a fortune on tripods (but you can). Get a solid tripod. Steady images look better, have higher quality detail, and give your scenes a professional look. If you plan on panning or shooting live events, get a fluid head. Benro makes some really nice tripods for $200. Don't overpay for top brand Monfrotto tripods. Benro have better options, more features, and cost much less. Look for the Benro Aero 2 or Aero 4. For smaller mirrorless cameras, the S2 head is plenty. For slightly larger dslrs an S2 or S4 will work.

3. Sliders. Get yourself a nice slider and practice using it. The kind of shots you can achieve with sliders add tremendous professionalism and value to your productions. Nothing screams "high ticket professional video" than a wide angle slider opening scene. The Konova K2 slider is the best value for the money and costs around $200 dolalrs depending on length. It has features of many of the more expensive brands, comes with a case, and is very sturdy and solid. Will create amazing shots for you.

4. Lenses. Invest in some nice fast prime lenses. Especially, wide angle lenses. They can really open up your productions and make them look realistic. When you shoot a video of people dancing at a wedding at f2.0 with an 18mm or 22mm prime lens, it just looks amazing. The subjects in focus are sharp, while everyone else further away or closer are slightly out of focus. It creates a sense of being there with 3D realism. Don't always buy the Canon or Nikkor brand, there are plenty of Tokinas, Sigmas, and others that are just as good. The brand name lenses are great for photography because they have insanely fast autofocus systems and can take great sports or wildlife pictures. But you don't need a fast autofocusing lens, you will be setting the focus manually and will be shooting video, so it doesn't really matter. Learn to set your focus manually and shoot with your lenses. Lenses of this caliber can cost thousands, but you can find nice ones in the $300-800 range.

5. Microphones. Invest in audio! If you had to choose just one of these, audio should be the first one. People can tolerate poor video quality, but they can't tolerate poor sound. Definitely, get a camera that allows external audio input and recording. Almost all of the Canons allow this. A microphone like the Rode Videomic Pro will significantly improve your production quality and elevate your professionalism. Another excellent option is one of the Zoom H1-H4 microphones. They can function similar to the Rode Videomic Pro, but can also record everything to their own internal SD card giving you a separate clean audio recording that sounds great. They can also interface with any soundboard and can record straight out of a mixer. So, if you are at a wedding, plug it into an output from the soundboard (after talking to the DJ), or set it up on a table somewhere and just have it record. Or you can have it attached to your camera always recording. The Zoom H4N can be had for around $200 now.


6. Editing. Learn to edit like a professional. Your cuts need to make sense. The music needs to match the scene. Learn to color correct your scenes. Learn to shoot in a flat picture style. Add back color, contrast, and sharpness later. Don't let the camera add that to the original footage. Learn to cut properly in dialogue scenes. Learn from mistakes when editing so that next time you shoot you won't over or underexpose the next shot. Think like an editor when you are shooting. Learn to make professional looking titles or lower thirds. Develop some nice animations for your intros and outros. There are plenty of online video tutorials. Learning to edit shouldn't cost you anything. We highly recommend Adobe's Premiere program, as it is the industry standard and since it communicates so well with Adobe After Effects, we prefer it. After Effects is the special effects program that everyone uses.

Do not spend more money on cameras! Spend your time and money on these 5 things. Nothing else will give you more bang for your buck!

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Author: Z Media

Categories: Film, Video, Editing



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