August 19, 2019 8 min read
So, you’re interested in becoming a filmmaker. Maybe you’re hoping to launch a career in videography or just looking to pick up a fun new hobby. Either way, there are some essential accessories you’ll need before you can get started, as well as some extra video accessories you’ll want to add as you progress and refine your video making skills. With such great leaps in technological advancements and easy access to video sharing sites, the market for filmmakers has become oversaturated, making it more difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. Finding your own unique style and using the ability to tell an incredible story visually is the key to getting noticed as a filmmaker. Get some of these high-quality video accessories and put our filmmaking tips to use to start creating your masterpiece.
When you’re just getting introduced to the world of videography, there are some video accessories that are non-negotiable. Without these five items, you will not be able to produce a professional-looking video. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start testing out new, more advanced video equipment to take your films to the next level.
We probably don’t need to explain to you why a video camera is so important to the video making process, but we will tell you that finding the right camera is extremely important. Today, people can shoot and make videos pretty much anywhere, anytime with the quality of phone cameras improving exponentially over the last few years. But, to make a serious, professional film, you’re going to need more than just your iPhone camera. With the right camera, you’ll be able to add necessary accessories like a video stabilizer and experiment with fun add-ons like camera filters.
For amateur filmmakers, budget is usually an issue - and for good reason. Filmmaking accessories can get expensive, so you want to make sure you’re investing in good quality necessities before moving on to more complex ones. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a camera, but you should consider what types of films and settings you plan to shoot the most in order to identify the ideal type of camera for your work.
DSLR cameras are the most affordable option and use just a single lens to capture your images digitally. These cameras are great because they’re lightweight, and you can swap out the lens easily when you’re looking to capture a different effect or angle. TLR cameras work similarly, except instead of a single lens, this camera has a double lens, which allows you to view the scene while you’re filming. If you do have a bigger budget for your video accessories, you may want to opt for a cinema camera. This option is definitely more expensive, but with the bigger price tag comes better quality and more capabilities.
Every filmmaker and photographer needs a tripod to create good work. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to hold a camera perfectly still with just your hand. A shaky image is not only frustrating for the viewer, but it’s also a huge sign of inexperience. A tripod will help you steady that image and create a more meaningful impact on the show. The only issue you’ll run into with a tripod is that it doesn’t move, and in film, there is often a lot of movement.
If you can’t hold a camera still while standing in place, imagine how difficult it is to keep the image steady while walking. Here’s where your video stabilizer will come in. You can attach quick-release pieces to the stabilizer itself and your camera to easily slide it on and off the device.
Then use the video stabilizer to keep your image steady and continuous as you follow the scene. It will take some practice to master how to use the stabilizer because it can still pick up some movement. Many filmmakers recommend using the device while on wheels—either a skateboard, bike or car—to keep the movement smoother.
A lot of people who are unfamiliar with the filmmaking process underestimate how essential the right lighting is to every single scene. Without good lighting, your image can look washed out or too dark. But, lighting is about more than just visibility. Lighting and movement together set the emotional scene for the film and are meant to evoke a feeling from your viewers. If your film is dark and dreary, you want this to be conveyed through the lighting to set a particular type of mood. Consider how the scene or overall film is supposed to feel and adjust your lighting needs based on this.
When purchasing your lighting equipment, you don’t need to get too fancy. Fortunately, lighting accessories have become relatively cheap over the last few years as LED lighting has become the standard. To start out, invest in a basic lighting kit with a key light, a fill light and a backlight. With these three accessories, you can create a basic three-point lighting setup to give your shots a clean, professional look. Of course, you can use natural lighting to set your scenes as well, but you’ll need to experiment with different times of day to nail the right look. Filming outside in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest isn’t usually a good idea because it can cause images to look overexposed.
Experimenting with silent videos can be fun as you learn to find your filmmaking style, but eventually, you are going to want to work on a project with sound. Without a microphone, amplifying and recording sound is impossible, so you’ll need to get a high-quality microphone to pick up the dialogue and environmental sounds. There are dozens of different microphones on the market today, so you should also have a good understanding of what you’ll be shooting the most of in order to know which microphone suits your needs best.
Omnidirectional microphones can pick up sound from every direction, which can be beneficial if you need to hear multiple people or instruments as one time, but it can also pick up unwanted background noise. A unidirectional microphone only picks up sound in one direction, eliminating some of the other noises on set, but if you’re filming outside, it can also pick up wind from its rear port very easily, distorting the sound and diminishing the quality. Research microphones before investing and make sure you get one that’s going to benefit your films.
Another essential component for adding sound to videos, audio recorders can capture better sound than most cameras can on their own. In filmmaking, you want to ensure that your audio quality is crisp and clear, so your viewers aren’t struggling to hear. A recorder can improve your sound quality, but you will have to edit the audio in later with a software program. Audio cables are necessary to connect your microphone to an amplifier or recorder unless you opt for a wireless microphone.
Once you’ve mastered the basic filmmaking accessories, it’s time to branch out and learn more about the world of film to take your projects to the next level. The most important step to breaking into filmmaking is understanding the fundamentals, but if you want your work to be successful, you’ll need to develop and cultivate your own unique shooting style. To help you achieve this goal, video accessories like camera filters and on-camera shotgun microphones give you more capabilities and customized options for how to shoot.
One of the best ways to capture audio and video at the same type is by attaching a high-quality mic directly to the camera. Shotgun microphones are a type of unilateral mic, which are devices that have a very specific focus on one direction. This is beneficial in filmmaking because the mic can pick up sound from that exact direction it is emanating from (as long as the mic is pointed in the correct direction) and cancel out distracting background noise. By attaching the shotgun microphone to your camera, the device will record the audio onto your camera, eliminating the need to add sound in later. Most shotgun microphones also come with windscreens to prevent wind noise from distorting the sound quality.
As you experiment with your video accessories, you may notice that you’re having trouble keeping your image focused, particularly when using a video stabilizer. To help eradicate this problem, you can attach an extension tube between your camera and your lens to help improve focus. The extension tube puts more space between your camera and the subject to help bring it into focus and create a clearer picture.
Don’t skimp on your memory. You’re going to be shooting a lot of material so that you will have plenty to work with later when you’re editing all of your footage together, and the last thing you want to happen is to run out of space mid-shot. Opting for a memory card with more space will prevent this issue, but we also recommend carrying an extra memory card on you at all times in case you do run out of space while trying to capture that perfect shot for your film.
Lenses and filters are the keys to creating your own unique look within your films. If you’re shooting expansive landscapes in your filmmaking endeavors, a wide-angle lens is necessary to capture the scene’s beauty and add a dramatic effect. You can also use wide-angle lenses for very tight, close-up shots. The standard lens is the one you’ll probably use most often to film regular perspective shots, but it's not ideal for closer takes. A portrait lens is great to use during interview shots as it focuses in on the subject and blurs the background, making the focus on the subject crisp and appealing.
Using camera lens filters can allow you to exert more control over the lighting of your scene and add interesting effects to the image. If you’re looking to make your colors brighter with more of a pop or if you want a purposely washed-out look, filters can help you achieve the appearance you want. Filters can alter colors, add special effects and enhance your camera’s exposure.
You don’t need to make your feature film your first project. In fact, practicing with many different short projects will help you get a better understanding of how your equipment works and what kind of style you have. Trying to create a full-length film on your first try can be difficult as there are so many different techniques and skills you need to have to get every scene just right. Instead, create a few micro-short films and focus on one particular skill each time (like movement or lighting) to practice.
You may have the fanciest recording equipment on the market, but if you don’t know how to use it, it’s not going to make your film look any better. You need a strong understanding of each device so that you have more control over how your final product looks. This is another reason to start with a small project because you spend more time and energy on specific filming skills until you feel like you’ve mastered each. Use one project to practice using your shotgun microphone and get the sound just right. Then, dive into another project to experiment with your camera lenses and filters until you’ve found a style that you can use across every piece of work.
Much like how writers study the work of their favorite authors, filmmakers should watch movies that they admire and take notes on what exactly it is that they like about the filmmaker’s style. The more that you learn about film, the better you’ll be able to create your own. In your free time, you should be educating yourself with articles, videos, books and podcasts to learn more about video making skills and how to implement them into your work.
Making a film of any kind and length can be a time-consuming endeavor, but with the right video accessories and an understanding of the industry, you can create something that’s all your own. To get the best quality video, invest in good equipment and review your shoots to identify areas where you are strong and other areas where you need to improve. Once you’ve mastered your equipment, plan out a short project and put all your knowledge to the test by incorporating video accessories and your own artistic style.