Videography For Beginners – Low Budget Movie Tips


Videography For Beginners - Low Budget Movie Tips

It’s time: Your script is a knockout, you’ve blown the last of your holiday savings on a decent camera and you have an entourage of amateur actors…’s time to make your movie!!!

This article will cover basic videography for beginners and offer a few last minute low budget movie tips. We will be looking at what you need to know to effectively communicate your ideas to your audience.

We will also be looking at the routes you should take to bypass distractions that can ruin even a well-thought-out video presentation…

Newbie Mistakes

One of the most important low budget movie tips I was taught as a newcomer was to limit the constant zooming and panning that pervades every shot.

I was mad for zooming in and out and trying my best to be as Stanley Kubrick as possible. At the time I was unaware that many of the ‘big player’ Hollywood directors chose to go the length of the movie without the use of a zoom shot.

Videography for beginners really doesn’t have to be that difficult – you don’t really NEED to use the zoom unless you are comfortable with it.

If you are in the middle of a shoot and you are wasting valuable time zooming in on an object stop what you are doing and try moving physically closer to the object ( you will be surprised at the how better the finished result can turn out to be! ).

When panning try not to go with your instincts at first as these will usually involve hasty movements. Try slowing down the movements you use from side to side to an unnatural speed – the result will be quite surprising!

Shaky Cam

The only films that can really get away with the ‘shaky cam syndrome’ are Found Footage efforts. I think it’s developing into more and more of an art form these days but it is extremely hard to pull off.

Great Low Budget Movie Tips

One of the low budget movie tips you should not ignore is making use of a decent tripod. Do yourself (and your viewers) a favor and learn how to film using this tripod – your shots will become a lot more fluid and smoother.

Lens Videography For Beginners

I still find explaining the characteristics of lenses a trifle difficult but the subject is relatively simple ( I promise! ). We basically have two main lenses we will be using with videography for beginners:

  • Shorter (wide-angle) lens
  • Long (telephoto) lens

With the shorter lens you will be able to gain much better depth of field. This simply means that objects in the background will stay in focus as well as the objects that are closer to you.

A shorter lens will always effectively make objects seem a lot closer than they actually are. If you are looking to keep everything in your scene focused you should ALWAYS go for a short lens.

Of course the long lenses have their uses to! Use a long lens when you want crystal clear focus on your subject. Foreshortening is a special effect gained through using a long lens in a particular way:

  1. Set in on an object
  2. As you walk towards the object try and keep it the same size within the frame by zooming out
  3. When you approach the object at close quarters you will notice the background objects becoming more and more clearer
  4. This adds a new sort of depth to the object in the center of the frame you are concentrating on

When ​​foreshortening is done correctly it is an awesome technique! Always keep in mind that the longer the lens the more ‘shaky cam syndrome’ you will experience!

Headroom in Videography For Beginners

Again this is one of the low budget movie tips you NEED to take note of – your headroom!

A majority of you will remember the home video films your dad used to take on holiday or at family functions. Do you remember how many of these video images cut the heads off your family members? Nearly every one I expect!

Cameraman in Position

This is down to a phenomenon called overscan that appears in nearly every consumer TV set. Overscan very neatly manages to slice off about 10% off the surrounds of your video ( top, bottom and both sides ).

There’s no real rule of thumb for getting the headroom right – you just have to go for it and ( excuse the pun ) use your head. Just make sure when you are filming that you keep headroom ( and overscan ) in mind. Don’t be over-generous though – to much headroom will look just as bad as to little.

I personally feel that headroom is one of the most overlooked subjects in videography for beginners. Decent headroom will result in a very professional looking film.


If you manage to get a good lighting setup you will drastically improve the results you get through your camera. I have personally seen films shot on $150 camcorders look BETTER than films shot on $10,000 cameras!

Seriously – I’m not messing about! It’s all down to lighting and getting it just right.

The beauty about lighting is that you do not have to break the bank to get started with it. Simple lighting kits can be used by photographers and filmmakers and can be picked up for under $200. You will need a bare minimum of two lights within the kit you choose.

Get in There!

I’m going to leave you with one last tip for this videography for beginners checklist – Don’t make your shots to wide!

Get in There and make your subject shine! Try and eliminate things in the shot that aren’t imparting any information. Every frame has limited space and it’s down to your professional opinion on what goes into that frame.

The more thought you put into this process the tighter your shot will end up being. The tighter the shot the higher the perceived video quality…



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