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  • toby wray

Video Tips for Marketeers #5 Filming Technique Tips

Frame and light are two key methods that with a bit of thought can make your work really stand out.


Framing is a skill which comes with practice and one you should start studying now. Look at images from different areas, how a press photographer frames their subject is different from how an artist does.

However, everyone who creates images for a living, thinks very consciously about what is in the frame. Think how you can show the audience what is important, if you can get close to your subject so there is no excess information in the frame. If the whole person is important, show their feet to their heads, or can you pan up from their feet ending on their head for the interview? Do you really need their hands in shot or the tree in the back- ground? Always use a variety of close-ups and wide shots to tell the viewer more about the subject. A good rule to follow is that they eyes of your subject should be in the top third of the frame. The simpler and more readable your frame is, the more powerful the message.

Keep it steady

You may decide to make the audience feel tense by using a handheld cam- era, or give your film that documentary feel but, at all times, aim to keep the image relatively steady. The camera that constantly moves, never settling on a subject is usually held by an amateur. Decide how you will steady the shot, hold the camera well against your body, use a table or door frame to steady your hand, hold the camera against your hip if you want a low angle. Remember pans and zooms, whether hand-held or on a tripod, should only be done to add meaning to your shot.

Tripods add a level of professionalism to your shots. They prevent the audience from being distracted by too much camera shake and are especially useful when zooming in to a distant subject. Used well, they bring a sense of calm and stillness to a shot. A handheld camera on the other hand will create tension if done well.

How Do You Use Lighting?

Take a look at some photos you like, by imitating these when you are filming you can learn new styles. Looking at how films use light is a great source of ideas too. Whole styles of film such as “film noir” use light to give a particular meaning. You can use natural conditions and environments to add atmosphere to your film. Lighting serves best to emphasise your subject, if your background is better lit than your subject it will pull the audience’s attention away. You can direct the audiences eye using shadow details well.


Great for dramatic landscapes, difficult for interviews as the shadows tend to be black leaving out all the detail. Light reflected off a wall will soften harsh shadows.

Cloudy days

Can give a great moody feel to the shot, take a look at films like “Se7en” or “Bladerunner”. Also good for illuminating details but can give a very general light which makes everything look flat.

Which direction to shoot in

A good guide will tell you shoot with the sun to your back, this is true if you don’t want everything in silhouette or with sun flare all over it. On the other hand at times this maybe exactly the effect you want! Try it and see!

‘Practical’ or artificial light

Taking light to a location is best done with either lots of experience or lots of planning. It can be a whole department on its own and can slow you down enormously. Lights are difficult to use and can often be very dull and flat or add unwanted colours and shadows to your image, although odd colours might work well. Sometimes a well placed lamp can displace or create effective shadows. Beware of double shadows when using more than one light source.

Reflected light

Begin your lighting education by using reflected light. Take note of where the main light is coming from and what surfaces it is reflecting off. The sun off a white wall will create a different or flattering light in the shadows. A desk lamp may bounce off white paper and light your subject’s face. You can use these coincidences and you can create them with artificial reflectors like white boards, mirrors. You may even want to create shadows using black boards.

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