Hi Guys! Jordan with Motion Array and today we’re going to be taking a look at how to film yourself when you’re by yourself. So let’s jump into it!
How To Film Yourself By Yourself
The following text has been transcribed for optimal reading
So believe it or not, here at Motion Array I actually film a lot of these video on my own. No crew around, no assistants, it’s just me. And as video creation becomes much more of a standard in marketing and independant promotion, chances are that you’ll find yourself doing some sort of variation of one of these types of videos. Sitting or standing in front of a camera on your own. So today I’m going to go over some of the best practices to keep in mind when filming yourself.
So let’s start it off with Location
The first question is, where do you film? While technically you could film anywhere your heart desires, there’s a couple things to keep in mind; Appearance, Sound, and Privacy
One of the first things that you might think of when coming up with a place to film is how the location appears on camera. Which is important. Keep in mind the style of video that you’re trying to create and try to make sure the location fits in with that vision. If you’re doing something simple like a stid-down vlog from home, you’re living room could do just fine.
If you’re doing a corporate video for a business, you’re probably going to want to come up with something that says business, like a boardroom or an open concept building that feels professional.
For us, it’s this wall covered in sound dampening panels. It requires zero setup from video to video, there’s no chance of anyone interrupting, and the sound quality is not too shabby.
And it also satisfies those other two qualities, sound and privacy. They kind of go hand in hand. Because if you have people moving around and talking in your space, it’s going to be hard to capture good sound. Privacy also has the added benefit of making you feel way more at peace when you’re actually trying to deliver your lines. It’s a way easier process when you don’t also have to worry about how you look to the people around you.
Now that you’ve found your location, the next step is to setup.
Place your camera in a position where you can have the background of your preference, and where there’s not going to be constantly changing light as you go throughout your shooting. Also, try and place your camera around eye level as opposed to filming looking way up, or looking way down at your character.
Next, lighting. If you have no lights available to you, then you may be forced to work with the sun, and then bounce light off of a white sheet to help shape your scene a little bit more. But if you do own any lights of your own, try and black out the incoming light from the sun as much as possible.
Take a look at this video about How To Create A Three Point Lighting Setup.
Next up is one of the most challenging pieces of filming yourself by yourself; focusing
There’s not a lot more frustrating than filming an entire video and realizing afterwards that you were out of focus the entire time! (beep)
So how do you make sure that you’re not out of focus? Well first you need a stand in.
Place something roughly as tall as you in the position you intend to stand. Something that works really well for this is a light stand. Stand where you want to be on camera and place it right in front of your face. Like actually touching your face. When you focus on a subject you always want to make sure their eyes are in focus, so getting this item in line with where your eyes would be is key. Also make sure that it’s about the same height of the top of your head. I know shooting at a really shallow depth of field is flashy and cool and really tempting, but when you don’t have someone to monitor your shots to make sure you’re keeping in focus, it’s a good idea to keep your f-stop a little higher just to be safe.
Now keep the stand in place, and go over to your camera and focus on the stand in object. Most cameras have the ability to either zoom in to check your focus more accurately, or come with a form of focus peaking, so that you can see when you’re tac sharp. This is also a really great moment to make sure that your camera’s autofocus is turned off, just in case you press something during the course of filming that would cause it to search around for a new point.
Once you’ve done that, grab either some tape, or an object that’s going to be difficult to move accidentally, and mark where you want your feet to be in that shot. That way you’re free to move around and can easily stand back in the right place.
Now that you’re in focus, the next step is to make sure that you’ve got good audio. If you have a choice, we find that it’s pretty hard to beat a good old Lavalier microphone. Shotgun mics are great, but if you’re on your own with no one to monitor sound, it’s pretty easy to step outside the optimal zone of a stationary mic, and for the sound quality to suffer. But if you’ve got a lav, then no matter where you’re facing or what you’re doing, the mic is following you around.
Now that picture’s up and sound is rolling, you might think that you’re ready to hit record. But not yet. Check to see all the batteries are fresh, because it sucks to realize at the end of your session that it cut out half way through. Make sure your memory card won’t run out half way either. Most cameras will have a display to show you how much recording time is left on your card at it’s current quality level. Make sure you can get your filming done before this runs out, otherwise you’ll have to go through the process of a data transfer before coming back and picking up where you left off. And if you record right next to your computer, that’s not a big deal, but if you’re filming anywhere else, it can be frustrating.
If you have a second camera than great, feel free to go through the setup process again with the another camera. But if you only have one camera, then you might think that editing can be challenging because you’ll need B-roll in between every take. But by shooting at a higher resolution, like 4K for instance, you can get away without a second angle by zooming in to manufacture the idea of a second camera. And as long as you’re not completely facing a different direction, you should probably be able to get away with it without it seeming weird.
So now with all that, you’re ready to hit the record button and start giving your first take. Just don’t go for very long, because you want to do a test before you really start to dive into this. There’s a lot of different pieces that we just blazed through, so if any of those things isn’t working as expected, doing a test, taking out your memory card, and checking to see if everything is looking and sounding right is essential.
Now with your tests all done, it’s time to pop the memory card back in your camera, and film yourself. This for some people can be the hardest part. Being on camera can be uncomfortable, but here’s a couple things that can really help you out.
Make everything you do bigger! When you’re being recorded, it can feel like you’re being really expressive, but chances are what’s coming across is more like this.
[very monotone] - "Hi guys it’s me, jordan, with Motion Array"
Next up, how do you memorize all your lines? Well the truth is that I never do. There’s two different scenarios that I’ll come across. Sometimes, on topics that I feel really comfortable and familiar with, I’ll just talk about it off the cuff making sure to hit some points along the way. But for most of what I do, I just have a script either on a computer or on my phone and look at chunks along the way.
Before every shoot that I appear on camera, I’ll go through and I label if there’s anywhere that I really know that I want to have B-Roll. So if I’m not going to be seen on camera during that time, there’s no reason that I can’t just read my lines off my phone.
But for other chunks of dialogue, I don’t have the entire piece memorized, I’m just going through in order and memorizing paragraphs in the moment when they come up. I’ll repeat the set of lines over and over again. Once I get a really good take of a paragraph, I move on to the next one, keeping the camera rolling the entire time. It’s a personal choice, but for me, it takes way less time to cut out that section in between takes than it does to start and stop a camera every single time.
But after a lot of trial and error, you’ll start to find yourself settling into the rhythm of things. And hopefully you can also have a bit of fun in the process.
I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, as always we’ve got lots of other tutorials ready to view for free here at motionarray.com. Please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials, we’ve got lots of other Premiere Pro Tutorials, After Effects tutorials, and filmmaking tutorials for you to check out!
Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.