New to Video?

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Video Advice for Newbies

Are you are new to video like I was (to digital video anyway) back in 2006? You may well feel a little confused by all the terminology and processes that you need to learn. There is a lot of it and it can differ a lot from stills photography.

Maybe you can shoot a quick video using your mobile phone, stills camera with video features or Handycam. You can even offload it to your computer and use some simple software to output to YouTube. But what about the rest of it?

What about adding effects or outputting and rendering to different types of media? What about shooting video that looks professional and not obviously from a digital Handycam? How can you make money from shooting video?

Video is truly blossoming and still has a long way to go

My first "moving pictures" camera was a Standard 8 cine camera that the family used. The footage had to be developed much like that from stills cameras in the days of film photography. Then played back through an expensive cine projector (which also needed a huge screen to watch it on). It also had no sound and tended to get caught up in the spooling system on occasion.

How times have changed. Who would have thought that you would be able to get high definition video footage from a tiny chip inside a mobile phone back then?

To me, video is precious

Sure, a great stills capture can tell a great story. Done well, stills can leave you with feelings of awe, pride, compassion, happiness, sadness, anger, love and so on. For me they always will as a single image can strike up all sorts of emotions.

Video on the other hand brings not only the "moving" picture into the frame, but also another dimension altogether. Another of our!


When you add the audio recorded at the time of capturing the images, it adds a whole new dynamic to the footage. Whether it is the roar of the crowd at a football match of the first laughter emanating from your newborn child.

I like to mix this with the original stills image to my slideshows to have the best of everything. Back in 2006, I truly believed that this is the way forward for digital imaging. Particularly for wedding photography and videography. I was right, they are most definitely merging.

So, those of you that are new to video, think about the final output when recording anything. Pay particular attention to stability, exposure and audio.

Video in some respects is much easier to shoot than stills photography. Most prosumer Handycams have excellent exposure meters that automatically adjust exposure and focus as you shoot. All you need to do is keep a steady hand and follow the action and zoom when necessary.



It is all too easy to zoom in and out of a shot repeatedly when shooting footage but when you up your game, the zoom controls must be used sparingly. When they are used...use zooms slowly (unless the scene dictates a speedy zoom for effect). I once hired an amateur to help me film myself photographing a wedding. When I checked through the footage, he had been zooming in and out like a man possessed!

It is the same for exposure. When you become more proficient at filming, manual exposure is best to prevent the obvious adjustments that the camera makes as it moves from one particular lighting scene to another. It is better to shoot two separate scenes both exposed differently than to move from one to the other seamlessly. But that comes later.


Another area where video differs from stills photography is stability.

When shooting stills, we are taught to use a suitably fast enough shutter speed to enable hand holding the camera when taking photos. With video, you are recording anywhere up to 60 or 120 frames per second. Even the slightest movement is going to show up.

Whenever you can, use a tripod when filming unless you are going for the "obviously hand held" look. It's a look that is currently being used so much in television and the movies these days.

Shooting Stock

If you have a decent Handycam, particularly if it is high definition (HD) or 4K, you may want to think about this. Making some money from shooting stock videography. It is actually a lot easier than you think. It is also easier than shooting stock photography so when you are ready, go to our stock videography section.


The chances are that the video camera you are using at the moment is either a Handycam, or a DSLR with video. There is one significant difference between these cameras and one that is most important. The DSLR has interchangeable lenses.

If you are indeed new to video, you may not find this that interesting. However, before DSLR’s had video features, in order to obtain that beautifully shallow depth of field with video and film (movies), you had to have a video camera costing upwards of £20,000. So, thank your lucky stars that you got into video (and photography) when you did!

Prosumer video cameras or Handycams normally have fixed autofocus lenses with zoom functionality. This means that the lens does not come off and has fully auto focus and iris (aperture) in most cases. Some of the more expensive cameras allow you to manually control the focus.

Lenses used on a Video DSLR are way better in that you have control of focussing, the aperture. You have a huge range of lenses to choose from too but that can get expensive. You will learn the benefits of these lenses throughout this section.

Shutters and Speed

Again, with most prosumer level, dedicated video cameras or Handycams, the shutter speed is pretty much fixed. I bet many of you didn’t realise that video cameras use shutter speeds. When I was younger, I thought that the shutter just stayed open and the images were recorded on the film as it passed through the camera, much like our eyes do...wrong!

Video cameras still have shutters but they work much quicker and albeit quite differently from stills cameras.

There are two main ways in which video cameras record via the shutter and they are:

  • Progressive
  • Interlaced

Most standard video cameras shoot at a rate of 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 frames per second. That is how many times the shutter opens and closes to record single images each second. When you then watch back the footage in real time, you are seeing each individual frame in quick succession which gives it the impression of moving.

Progressive footage means the shutter opens and closes and takes an individual image each time. Interlaced footage contains two fields of a video frame shot at two different times which reduces flicker and enhances the feeling of movement. Most TV programmes use interlaced footage.

To explain further, footage shot at 25fps (frames per second) in progressive mode is the same as footage shot at 50i (interlaced). The interlaced 50i footage has twice the amount of images which are then split into alternate lines of signal. When played back at normal speed this is not noticeable but on the odd occasion, you may notice lines flickering across your screen.

This does not happen with progressive footage which is why I prefer it, especially for stock.


Things get a little more complicated here for those new to video and this is something we will cover in more detail later but for now, there are a couple of things to think about.

If you are using a frame rate of say 25 frames per second, you must use a shutter speed of at least 1/25th second or you will have problems. Think about it. If you used a shutter speed of say, 1/8th second, it is impossible to capture 25 frames IN that second, you can only capture 8 frames or less*.

*There is a short period in between each shutter movement so shooting exactly 8 frames is unlikely.

For best results, and something which stems from film footage days, it is best to use a shutter speed that is double the frame rate. So, if shooting 25fps, use a shutter speed of 1/50th second and if shooting 30fps use a shutter speed of 1/60th second or a multiple of that (120th, 250th, 500th and so on).

The shutter speed also determines the look of the footage.

Shooting at 1/30-1/60th second gives a quite seamless look to the footage with nice flowing motion. Whereas using a shutter speed of up to 2000th of a second gives a sharp, jittery style of footage which can be quite effective. You may have noticed this in some of the action scenes in "Saving Private Ryan".

Anyway, that is enough for all of you that are new to video. We will cover all this and more in greater detail as this section grows so for now, learn to use and enjoy capturing video footage using our tips at All Things Photography.

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