Basic Filming Guide

Concept Development

Basic Filming Guide

Concept Development

A Beginner’s Guide to Video Production: Basic Filming Guide


What is video?

Not sure what camera to use? Where to shoot? How should I record sound? What are the basics of filming a video as a beginner? Welcome to a beginner’s guide to video production.


Video is quite simply a series of single images being displayed in quick succession. Our eyes perceive this as movement. Different countries have varying standards at which the speed of these images should be displayed for broadcast. In the UK, for example, the PAL standard requires 25 of these images in every second of the video. In the US, the NTSC standard is 30 frames (images) a second. This is known as the frame rate.

Each one of these images consists of thousands or even millions of pixels. The more pixels an image contains, the higher the quality of video. This is the fundamental difference between Standard Definition Video (SD), which has thousands of pixels, and Ultra High Definition Video (UHD), which has millions.

“But my phone films in 4K”?

Basic Video Guide: Mobile Phones

Although many phones and other devices already have the option to record in 4K or UHD (and yes, there is a subtle difference), most screens don’t meet the technical requirements to make full use of all those extra pixels. If you’re looking to improve your webcam footage, check our detailed guide here.


The biggest benefit of filming in 4K or UHD lies in the ability to crop your image in the edit without loosing quality. When filming in 4K, you can film a wide shot of a person from the waist up and in the same shot you can crop in to HD a close up of their face. If you want to shorten the clip you then have the ability to skip forward without having an amateurish jump cut. This also avoids having to reshoot the video if you notice a mistake that wasn’t caught on the day. Depending on the style of your video though, a jump cut might be just what you want!

Pre-Production for Beginners

Whoa slow down there! Have you read our other basic video planning guide here yet? If not you are skipping one of the most important steps in Video Production! One that will form an effective filming guide for you to use in the future.

Shooting for Beginners

Basic Filming Guide: Two of our camera operatives look over a shot. Discussing the camera is an important part of any video guide.

You need to think about everything in your frame, the composition of all that you see on screen, from the lighting, the blocking, the set, props. It is all part of what the viewer takes in, and it is a real skill to understand and direct all these different elements to achieve the effect you want on the viewer of the video.

Camera for Beginners

Basic Filming Guide: Gimbals

Use a camera that has a high enough image quality that shows you care about the end product – and in turn – your business. You don’t need to be a camera whizz to get great footage, but if you don’t make the footage look good, your audience will not respond well to it. Why should they care about the message you’re giving or the product you’re selling when it’s clear that no effort has been put into it?

Whether you are simply shooting on your phone or if you have spent a couple of grand on a decent video camera, it is still possible to make your footage look bad if you don’t know what you’re doing. The below advice is highly dependant on the camera you are using, a mobile phone for example will most likely not have most of these options, but it is possible to purchase apps that gives you a finer level of control. More details on video production technology can be found here.

Recording Media

Make sure that the media your camera shoots on is formatted inside the camera before you hit record. This helps to avoid your footage being corrupted. Additionally, ensure you’ll have enough space on your recording media. Especially when you are shooting RAW.

Video Frame Rate

Make sure that you are shooting in the right frame rate for the job. 25fps for the UK, (or 50fps if you want slow motion) and 30fps or 60fps in the US.

Shutter Speed

Your Shutter Speed dictates how much motion there is in your camera, the general rule of thumb is to have it double your frame rate.

Picture Profile

Picture Profile or LUT basically determines how the cameras records light and colour. Depending on how much editing and colour grading you want to do, it’s best to stay standard with this.

Exposure and ISO in your Video

Your exposure is how light or dark your video clips are. This can be controlled on the camera with the F/Stop or ISO. The F/Stop is controlled by the lens’ internal iris and determines how much light passes through the lens and onto the cameras sensor. The ISO controls how sensitive the cameras sensor is to light. With ISO, the higher you go the more digital noise is added to the image. This can be very visible when at a higher ISO but most modern professional cameras are able to remove the vast majority of this.

F/Stop does not add any noise when letting in light, which can mean it is preferable for exposing your image correctly. However, depending on the lens used, it becomes harder and harder to focus the image. Whatever isn’t in focus will become more out of focus, or ‘softer’. This is because more and more light is hitting the cameras sensor. This means when exposing your image you need to ensure that your subject is still in focus when recording. Blurry out of focus video does not sit well with viewers!

Shutter speed also plays a part in exposure while it should be factored in, not used to actually change the exposure.

White Balance

White Balance is telling the camera what kind of light you are filming in. Whether that be sunlight, LED or Tungsten lightbulbs. Every light source emits a different colour, sunlight is a much bluer light while tungsten is more orange. White balance is used to try and determine the colour that the light source gives off to record it in a more neutral white colour.

Sound for Beginners

A common mistake that inexperienced video producers make is forget that the audio is just as important as the visuals. Viewers will switch off, or disengage from, or fail to remember messaging from a video with poorly produced audio. If you want them to listen, get the sound right. A simple rule that so many people don’t understand, is that sound recording should never be done through the onboard camera mic.  You should record the best quality sound as possible with an external microphone.

Make sure that the microphone is as close to the audio source as possible without being in frame. This gives the sound less chance to travel and change before you record it. The sound of the echoes in the room tells the audience “we didn’t put much effort into this!” Especially when, for example, Youtubers are producing video content with crisp and clear sound in their bedroom. When you use something amateur to represent your business, you will look amateurish yourself.

Lighting for Beginners

Basic Filming Guide: Lighting

In this basic filming guide – light is your friend. It’s important to let as much light as you possibly can into the room in which you will be shooting your video. The more light you give your camera, the less sensitive it needs to make itself to be able to expose everything correctly. This leads to an overall better image as it will be less noisy.  Make sure sure that the light sources are hitting you “the subject” and not the camera itself, otherwise you will create optical flares on the image. Also try and make sure that the light is all coming from a similar source, either all sunlight, all LED or all Lightbulbs of the same colour. This is to make sure you don’t have different coloured lights all in the frame as it will give you inaccurate colour which is difficult to fix in the edit.

Filming against windows

You should also avoid having any windows within the frame of your camera. Windows lead to outside, and outside has the brightest light source available to us, our sun. If a window is in view of your camera, your image quality will go out the window as your camera attempts to expose for the sun and you in the room. It’s not going to happen. Currently only extremely expensive cameras are able to do this, and even then you need powerful lights to It’s best to simply avoid having any windows in your shot! If you aren’t able to avoid a window, close the curtains and place a thick towel over the rail to block out as much sunlight as possible.

Lighting is the key to producing anything of real quality. You need to know how and why to use it.  The equipment you use is important, that said, it is still probably only 10% of what actually makes a video engaging.  The rest is down to you and your crew!

The Presenter

Basic Filming Guide; An example of a piece to camera

If you’re going for a very basic model of video, such as a talking head, the presenter needs to communicate through the screen directly to the viewer. Using people from within your business can be a good idea, but if you can’t help that person out with some nice visuals, a strong sound mix, and a tight, engaging and understandable script, then you need to make sure that they have immense charisma and the confidence to get the message across. You can have someone who is fantastic when speaking to a room full of people, but stick them in front of a camera and they just aren’t the same!

Having a person just reading awkwardly from a script off to the side of a camera is being unnecessarily cruel to the presenter, the viewer and your business. You may as well just write your message as a blog.

Make sure that your presenter does not wear any clothes with striped patterns. Some cameras still get confused by striped lines close together. This is known as the moiré effect. This visual phenomenon occurs when a fine pattern on your subject meshes with the pattern on the imaging chip of your camera, and you see a third separate pattern. A plain solid coloured shirt is fine, don’t worry, they will still look great! Make sure that there are no obvious branding logos of other companies on the clothing.

You don’t want to

  1. unintentionally give them free advertising, or
  2. have them contact you saying they’d like their brand removed.

This could possibly make your footage useless, or require extra time in the edit blurring it out.

Filming Video On Location for Beginners

Basic filming guide: Two of our crew members filming - guiding the talent what to do for the best shot.

Now you are on location pick a spot to shoot. Make sure it is not only visually interesting, but is also good for sound. Plan ahead – ensure that you aren’t likely to be disturbed and it won’t be affected by changing light, (remember, the sun will move during the day). Make sure you’ve considered the weather. Keep an eye out for safety precautions too; no trailing wires waiting to be tripped over or lights left on to create burn or fire hazards.

Try to get the best you can with what you have! Despite all the planning, scheduling and precautions there will always be something out of your control. There may be problems that occur and you have to find a solution quickly. The trick is to try to keep in mind what you are shooting, who for and why. Try to think on your feet and be spontaneous with ideas to work around issues.

The last thing you want during a video presentation is to become distracted by anything. Let everyone at the location who isn’t involved in the filming know what you are doing. Lock the door and put up a sign if you have to! Mute your mobile phone, leave your landline off the hook, ensure that you have zero distractions.

You should also think about how your audience might get unintentionally distracted by your background. Is there is some funny artwork behind you on the wall? Is it reflecting the right image for your company to your audience?

Video Editing for Beginners

A whole other ball game, best reserved for our other blog here.

The Conclusion

We understand why you might want to produce your own video, but there is more to it than just pressing the little red button. Look at how you want your business to be portrayed to your target audience. I would like to believe that your business deserves more than what an amateur can produce. Why spend 5 or 6 days producing a video that may not work when it isn’t your company’s specialty?  That’s time you could be working with your customers, chasing new leads or refining your own processes. Would you ‘give it a go’ building your own house?  No – you would bring in an expert and a team of people who know what they’re doing.

However, if you are going to give it a go yourself, please simply ask us for advice. We are always happy to help.

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