5 Basic Camera Mistakes Of New Filmmakers and How To Avoid Them

5 Basic Camera Mistakes Of New Filmmakers. From Shutter Speed To White Balance these are all mistakes we’ve made as new filmmakers and video shooters and hopefully this tutorial will help you avoid them.

This video is really one that I wished existed when I started out experimenting with shooting video.

Of course the best way to learn is by experimenting yourself, – but these 5 fundamental mistakes are ones WE HAVE ALL MADE, and without knowing it THEY ARE the tell-tale signs of a less experienced video shooter. Thankfully once you know them they’re super easy to avoid or fix , which will instantly increase the cinematic qualities of your videos. 


As you progress with your filmmaking, you’ll hear about all these different rules, – And there is one for shutter speed.this is the 180 degree rule.

Although this is one that can be broken, it’s best to apply it as a starting point for all of your shots, if you want them to look natural. – Shutter speed that’s set too high or low looks really unnatural AND IF UNINTENTIONAL., really can cheapen the look of your videos.  You should set your shutter speed to be double your frame rate. For example when filming at 25FPS you set your shutter speed to 1/50th of a second.

On video cameras it’s actually listed as a ‘degree’, so set this to 180 degrees. Doing this will create the most natural looking movement and motion blur in your shots AND truly is the best starting point for cinematic looking shots. 

2. Using Auto White Balance

There are times where IT’S OK to let your camera make decisions for you, BUT USUALLY it’s better to be in control of it yourself, at all times. Nothing screams “amateur footage” more than a white balance that’s shifting mid shot. It’s off-putting for the audience and changes the entire look and feel of your video. 

Find the appropriate white balance for your intended look, lighting and environment conditions at the start of your shot and lock it off. All cameras have some really good presets for daylight and tungsten lighting conditions, as well as customisable settings. Find what looks best and save it, but most of all don’t let the camera make this choice for you in the middle of a shot!!

3. Too Much Camera Movement.

Now I need to be clear here, this isn’t me saying “every shot has to be locked off”, but rather that a SINGLE SHOT really should have a SINGLE STYLE. The temptation for a lot of new video shooters is to create loads of movement in every shot, MAYBE IT’S A: moving dolly shot – and then a tilt, or pan and then a zoom, whatever it is just pick a single movement for a shot and execute it with intention and motivation.

Don’t add unnecessary movement AND don’t be afraid to allow the subjects in frame to create visual interest for you. – Often things moving in the background or foreground can create a more effective and cinematic experience with your camera locked off, than any camera movement ever could. 

4. Relying on Auto Focus. 

Auto-Focus is a vlogger’s friend, also it’s great for fast moving or documentary situations, it is definitely a useful tool. BUT REALLY – if you want to create great cinematic shots, turn it off and learn how to control the focus yourself. – Even the best AF systems have a tendency to wander off and focus on something you don’t want – or – just drift ever-so-slightly in the middle of your shot and ruin your clips. And nothing is more distracting or un-cinematic than slightly focus drifting footage. 

In truth Focus racking and the art of pulling focus manually is one the most effective cinematic tools there is – and once mastered will definitely add a huge amount of production value to your footage. You also have the added benefit of knowing that once you’ve nailed focus in, for an interview or talking head shot, that the camera won’t drift off mid shot ruining your clips. 

5. Not using the in-camera tools to help you.

It almost seems obvious to say this one, but honestly.. it took me a while of experimenting to actually pay attention to ALL the in-built tools your camera offers you to get the best out of your camera’s footage. – Pretty much all of the common filmmaking mistakes can be fixed by using the simple tools in your camera:  manual focus peaking, the horizon level tool, Thirds Grids, exposure metering AND audio metering, These are all tools found in pretty much all cameras that take the guess work out of shooting your video. –  Learn to use these and I guarantee the quality of your videos will be infinitely better. 

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