The end of 2017: 13 Things I Have Learnt

I’ve been making films (mainly music videos in 2016) for a year now and here’s a roundup of what I have learnt in 2016:

  1. Always shoot more footage than you need. It’s always useful to have extra shots (imperative with music videos). That long sequence you thought would look fantastically interesting against the whole first verse, probably won’t.
  2. Don’t try and make editing decisions when you’re shooting. For any scene, shoot longer than you need, leave the camera rolling a little and edit down later.
  3. If you’re not happy with the take, shoot it again (and again) or if it’s not working, shoot something different.
  4. Be flexible and keep your eyes open for shooting opportunities when you’re out and about. A storyboard’s a great guide but there’s no such thing as too much footage. And there’s bound to shots you haven’t (couldn’t have) thought of.
  5. The ratio of footage-to-finished is about 10:1, for music videos it’s best to double that number as there are so many more cuts (although you can use repetition to great effect). 20:1 for a three minute video means you need an hour’s worth of footage.
  6. Don’t try to use every shot you took. Think about the flow of the whole piece, not how great you think all the shots are.
  7. Music videos are a great place to start when learning an editing package. No need to worry about sound, you can totally concentrate on the moving image.
  8. For music videos, you can edit more or less where you want: on the beat, off the beat, between the beat, with no regard for the beat. I love that flexibility.
  9. Work on one portion (or sequence) at a time but always keep the bigger picture in mind.
  10. Sunlight is the best light you could possibly wish for. It’s free and makes your shots look great!
  11. Grading is awesome (but don’t overuse it). As are effects and transitions. But ask yourself why you are using them, can you justify that fancy transition between shot x and shot y or are you doing it just because you can? Does it add to the aesthetic of the piece?
  12. You can do a lot with an edit. In fact, the film will be a different beast once you’ve edited it. Embrace this.
  13. Making films is fun! (but the editing process can be frustratingly slow)

So there you are, 13 tips which will hopefully take some my year’s pain out of your year’s shooting (whenever that might be).

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