Most cameras these days have extremely good video capability. But creating bad videos seems to be even easier than creating bad photos. It’s not just poor lighting and out-of-focus images you have to deal with, but movement that can make you feel seasick too!
But don't let this put you off. If you tap into your photographic skills, then you can have quite a bit of fun with video too.
There are 2 different ways to film with video – one is to follow the action with the camera, while the other is to keep the camera still and allow the action to happen in front of it.
It’s this second style that suits photographers particularly well. If you compose the frame as you would with a photo – paying attention to light and composition – then anything that happens within the frame has a good chance of looking OK.
You can also use Photoshop for basic film editing, and it has the advantage that you can apply a lot of the effects, such as manipulating the colours and contrast too. Do it right and it almost becomes moving photography.
But before you decide to create your own epic 3 hour film, it's a good idea to start with something short to try things out.
My friend, the poet David Mark Williams, was bringing out a book, so we decided to do a series of short (around 1½ minutes long) videos of him performing his poems to camera.
With "The Solace of Cupboards" we did a very simple setup with the camera on a tripod, Mark (as he’s known to his friends) against a black backdrop, and a single light, which he clicked on at the start and off at the end to hint at the idea he might be in a cupboard. And in the editing, I converted it to black and white and darkened down the shadows until only the highlights remained
"The Devil’s School of Motoring" required us to leave the confines of the studio into the cramped conditions of the car. However, by using a wide-angle lens, and Mark leaning into the camera, it created a very claustrophobic atmosphere, which was ideal for the sense of discomfort you might have if the devil himself was your driving instructor.
Getting ever more ambitious, for "I Don’t Know The Address" we roped in Mark’s wife, Val, to drive us around the town while we did the shoot. And this time I filmed him performing it from 3 different angles to edit together aftewards. I might have done a 4th, but unfortunately bouncing around in the car while constantly looking through a camera lens made me feel car sick, so we cut our losses rather than make a mess of their car.
The point of this post is to encourage you to get creative with your camera in other ways. If you know how to light and compose an image, then you can use these skills for video too.
And if you need a subject to experiment on then local bands, who are always skint, will be delighted if you can help them create a video for their music.
Or find yourself a poet…