When you have a vision, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get the perfect shot for your short film. Sometimes that perfect shot is geographically out of reach, or perhaps you’re lacking the equipment, time or skill to get a shot just right. There are lots of tips and tricks out there for amateurs, however, that will help get your final cut as close to your creative vision as possible. Here are just a few things to consider:
Before the last year or two, 1080p HD was the highest resolution the average person could shoot in. It’s now getting easier and cheaper to shoot at higher resolutions, 4K being the new popular choice. There are several advantages to using 4K footage that make up for its slightly higher cost. One big plus is that the user gains the ability to easily manipulate the footage post-production with an editing technique called “pan and scan.” Because 4K is four times larger than HD, it gives users the full HD allowing the ability to reposition framing or use techniques like a digital zoom without affecting footage quality. You can downscale 4K to HD without any loss in quality, in fact you can often get an increase in quality when doing so. 4K also allows you to stabilize shaky footage which could result in less waste.
If you’ll be using stock video footage in your film, start by understanding the context. A time lapse shot can be a great way to show passage of time or serve as a transition point, and can be especially effective in a documentary or other non-narrative project. Full speed shots, however, are a good way to show an establishing shot for your primary location or to show a major change in setting. Remember that for the best outcome, it’s necessary to match the feel between your footage and the stock video so that your finished product maintains a cohesive flow.
To make sure that the stock footage you choose doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb, it’s important to process it in such a way to match your native footage. Try color correcting the stock footage and make minor adjustments to incorporate the same characteristics found in your footage. This will also personalize it, giving your final product a more authentic feel.
Make sure to look out for footage artifacts like lens flares that might be present in stock footage but will not appear anywhere else in your project. Having anamorphic lens flares like J.J. Abrams is so fond of from films like Star Wars, can be a major distraction if they suddenly appear out of nowhere.
When you can’t get the perfect shot, remember that stock footage is your friend. There are so many filmmakers out there filming so many different things, it is nearly impossible to not find the perfect footage to supplement your project. Take advantage of the offerings and use all the tools available to you to make your short film the very best.
There are several places where you can get stock footage, but two of the best are Video Blocks and Shutterstock. We’ve used both in the past and they have great content, great prices and frequently run specials that let you get more bang for your buck.