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The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Lesson 8 of 15

Camera Holding Techniques

Bill Megalos

The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Bill Megalos

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Lesson Info

8. Camera Holding Techniques

Lesson Info

Camera Holding Techniques

When do you use a tripod in a formal interview I'm interview I'm gonna interview you for first off I'm the only person working alone then you don't generally generally want it on the tripod right uh but a longer interview want it they're the person you set the frame and establishing shots right? You're seeing the outside of this building where you're seeing we're at the uh you know we're in front of the uh you know the capitol building or something establishing shots time lapse timelapse sibley knows what time lapses with the data going tonight you don't want the image changing sizes then you're gonna have to leave it there for a long time or special effects like dissolves that could be another time let's say where you've got a scene where there's a scene there there's a car like the car is part of the movie the car is there and then you dissolve to a scene and the car's not there anymore all right or you've got um you know you've got people may be setting up for a party and then you d...

issolve to the mess after the party right? Yes time has happened with this a dissolved when do you use it when do you hand held? Oh boy. So for me just about every time I think that film that we made with I showed you with esmeralda this morning I don't think the cameras on the tripod wants maybe it wasit might where the interview with her at the end, where she's at the table because I knew it was going to be long everything else, all the other interviews with the other people I was holding it. Sometimes you want that little bit of air to breathe, right? But the other would the other people. I was holding the camera, he saw a little bit of movement in there, but if the subject's moving around, you definitely need a tripod. I could see I see if I was shooting up, I'm going in and about a week or two weeks I'm gonna be filming a play and then yes, I'd want the camera on the tripod the way these guys are filming this today, they don't want the camera shaking around, you know? They wanted steady when I'm steady and things like that to be less conspicuous if you if you're on a tripod that's almost always the tripods in the wrong place someone's going to move, they're going to something it's gonna it's like following a cat or something. People are unpredictable, whereas if you start moving, I can just kind of move and just very closely get over to you. Um better coverage much faster to be hand held if I if I'm just over here and say I need a close up over the shoulder okay boom I get the close up here okay boom so you can just you can move much more quickly uh it's more intimate there's a connection with with with with a handheld there's a connection now there are times when you do you want to do this close up on the over the show you know if you're looking at a computer screen or something that's not moving dan generally would want to get on a tripod then but if it's interacting with people and doing people are moving you definitely want to be on the tripod it's all so much easier to do more dynamic angles if I take this camera and I could just go like this and I could get a on more unusual extreme angle very quickly whereas it'll take me a few minutes to set this up that way and especially to have a bigger camera like the bigger professional cameras that'll take forever to get that set up I need to get you because it weighs seventy or eighty pounds it's easier just to change is something if someone just starts moving a little bit or they reset their seat you know they were sitting like this the whole time and you know and then all of a sudden they kind of go like this if you had to get up and move that try but words you can just kind of ease over now I put the word intention down here because when your hand hold yeah yeah but uh so with the iphone do they have some type of having something they have bricks for? We're going to play with one of them on a little bit but yeah go ahead also when you were working with esmeralda I noticed that you were using the hand held when you were followed on the sidewalk you could have done the same thing trucking it in behind her ah but there would have been a different effect how would you describe that different if I'm walking with her if I'm walking with her you are going to see the camera move and people are going to say it's kind of like friday the thirteenth or nightmare you know who's moving whose point of view is this? Why is the camera moving? Whereas if I'm just holding it steady and it's just a little bit of breathing it just feels kind of human and normal but if you start doing one of if you start doing, you know it's shots like that or you come behind you know there's a ladder in the camera comes from behind the cat that's saying someone is watching that's a point of view shot so I don't want to really buildup, that point of view shot you know I'm saying I don't want I don't want people to say who's that what why's the camera moving you want people to say to not feel that the camera's moving but you know why? Why are you doing it and so that's what I'm talking about intention here there's two things about intention what do you want? What do you intend to happen but much more important is you have to really think until you become a good I mean, I've been a cameraman now for many years and I'm I to me it's like I just kind of flow with it and it's like you know but most but until you really good, you've got to really think what do I want to do here? You've got to say you've got to say things like okay, she's gonna walk in the door? I'm gonna I'm gonna let her walk in the door move a little bit then I'm going to start walking back then I'm gonna let start walking back she's gonna walk over to this wall and when she gets to this well I'm gonna let her leave friend that's how you have to start, you have to start that way until you and him and make sure you're in focus and make sure that it's steady and make sure you don't tell the camera it's like all these things at the beginning that's what you really have to do you have to be talking yourself through it so that's the intention um so these are the fundamentals of hand holding the's there ifyou're going again you can see I'm a big fan of fan, huh? I'll hand holding gives life to the film if it's honest tripod there's not going to be much life to it it's moving pictures it's not going to be I mean, there are times when you want to be on the tripod like we talked about but generally if there's one thing I learned how to feel comfortable with your camera and learn how to hand hold your camera so these fundamentals steadiness you just got to say I got to be steady I can't jerk around I got to be steady I gotta make it usable think before you move we just talked about that what am I doing? I'm following you in from the door and then when I come over here I'm gonna have to make sure I get the camera over into this position and let her leave frank wide angle rather than telephoto we talked about that right? How important that is make sure your body is balanced don't get yourself into a situation where you're like leaning here and you're you know, it's everything you could do just to stand up keep your body balanced obviously being in good shape is helpful being in you know and keep saying good check so keep your body balanced use the viewfinder now when I say use the viewfinder a lot of cameras have a flip out screen the trouble with the flip out screen is you can't really see what you've got you're looking at a postage stamp basically you can't really frame you don't you don't feel part of the story you feel outside this story whereas if you've got if you got your eye right up to a viewfinder and you're looking in that you're you're kind of living in a different way okay brace yourself bracing yourself is very often if I have to hold the camera for a long time I'll lean up against something this is bracing myself my body's not moving when I'm like this people can tell that I'm leaning up you know people people can't tell that I'm handholding generally you don't want the hand holding to joe attention to itself so if you can use something if you embrace yourself where here's another way of bracing yourself um you know I'm holding the camera and I just get down like this and I put my elbows on the table and I can hold it right hold it like this all day and people don't know it's it's handheld um yeah learning to walk without looking that takes a certain amount of faith and it some of that has to do with not shuffling your feet if you lift you know if you lift your feet as you're walking you know you're not going to hit anything you know that even if I step on this cable here it's not going to do anything because I'm not going to trip over it all right? Another thing to learn is walking sideways I mean that's a that's a skill that is it's it's not that hard if you just think about it but it's just and the other thing is cushioning your walk you know, a lot of people you'll see that so the cushioning the walk is just kind of being aware I've got this little baby in my hand and just kind of try to keep it smoother all right um zooms could be very useful because what they can do is you can hide a zoom I'll take the x one of the x three um you can hide a zoom in your walk and you won't see it won't feel like a zoom all right um so right now I just give you a little bit of here's how I handhold alright this camera and also I would do it with the well I'll do it with that other camera in a second don't try even though there's a handle here don't try toe hold the way to the camera in this handle you will get I mean, if you can see right if you could feel my arm right now I'm gonna have tennis. L if I did this for ten minutes, I would have tennis elbow it would take me weeks to get rid of it. Okay, this hand at least the way the cameras work is good for guiding the camera and also using the zoom. Okay, this is where the weight is, but this way I want to set my hand so that I can also adjust the focus at the same time. Okay, so so I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna try to get this thing as close as I can too, like kind of locked in with me now if I start moving ah, loosen it. I'll pull my wings out a little bit but if I'm holdings that's not still I've got this jammed against me here jammed against this here jammed against here everything's pretty tight and I can hold it I can hold a you know I can hold a telephoto shot for quite a while so if if I stopped talking most of my congemi thie I up against my eye too that's a no that's like the fourth place, right, I got I got this and I can just you know I can do that okay um if it's a wide angle which of course is always going to make me look better I can hold it and people just don't know so that's but I'm also even though the way it is here the way it is here I'm using this to fall to pull focus I can change my focus I can also change my iris from the same hand but this is the way is here I'm not holding the way with this a lot of these cameras this camera has a has a the handle moves so you know, find find a handle move it really works for you I sometimes right now I've got the handle horizontal here and I'm actually taking a lot of weight on the on the on the fatty part of my right here I'm not really using if I if I hold on here my fingers were going to get fall asleep after a while, but I'm using it so I'm just using I'm just like, you know and let get used to and get fun with get hat, you know, get familiar and you know, walks walked like a cat and you know, the hardest thing is you moving and them not moving if someone's walking on can you walk for me, just move this out of the way if you just walk just walk back there and just walk towards their you know past me when I get over to here pass me okay just keep walking past me but if I'm moving along with you people don't care about they know they're not going to see they're gonna have any problems with it and also as she's walking to the left I'm going to lead her look at this shot I'm going to lead her I don't want her in the middle I'm gonna lead her okay giving leading room they're okay that's just kind of the that's the way we so go ahead walk just keep walking past we'll do that one more time so this time just walked past me and I'll stop so you'll see that while she's moving no one you know it looks perfectly great come on course you have to be very aware of the the noise that your features making two these are the wrong shoes for in here you'd want a softer shit issue so um so let me just pull up this camera real quick to show the d s l ours are a whole different there are a whole different ball of wax okay um we're going to get to this in just a moment but let's pull this one out and then we're gonna reset for a moment now this one oh I say thanks can you just just we'll kick this out from there I got it, I got it. Okay, so now this camera um right now it's been set up to go on there so it's got this little back thing on it which sometimes these little handle thing can really help you out when this camera is normally used, you know, the shutter is the mirror is down and you look through this viewfinder right when you normally use this camera so you're looking through the viewfinder but for me to expose video with it the camera has to be up so all of a sudden I can't use this viewfinder anymore because the the mirror has to be up so all roads some this is black, so when that happens I have to use I use this okay? I used this back thing now it's pretty hard to get to do this kind of stuff with that. There are adaptors that when I hand hold this it's like a loop it's like, you know, like the loop that you look at photographs with it stands sticks on the back of this so I can kind of use the camera back like this and again I'm using my same thing here my same put the put the body in and just, you know, just really make sure you've got multiple if it's floating in space is kind of hard now some of these cameras some of these lenses were going to get into these lenses in just a moment some of these lenses have automatic image stabilization in them like a little gyroscope in there that takes out the shake this one doesn't all right the other zooms do anyone again with this the same sort of situation you know, if you're using the camera like this it was coming on and off the tripod the other way to do it is to get a rig like this which our friend adrian very very graciously set up for us once you get into a situation like this you no longer are subtle though I mean you're no longer looking like looking like someone on vacation, right? You're all of a sudden you're starting to look like an alien you know? It's got colorful little colors on it and people were saying but this this takes this takes this camera now I don't have I don't have ah um so this takes this camera this isn't this isn't a ah focusing and justin adjustment for rig and the image stabilization do you kind of I mean it's probably still not going to be that way we know that you can get used to the rig you could do a lot with this rig and be one of the things that the rig does that's kind of nice is it gives you focus a separate focus all right in this camera I lose I lose the I'm losing I don't see anything with this camera if I'm on here so that would mean I would need to have a separate view very often these have a separate monitor up here so it does get even more you know even more crazy but mom anyway, so this is this is another way of working it it's probably better in the long term than, uh it's probably better in the long term then using it by hand but it also depends on you and your your comfort levels all right, let me, um let me let's let's move on to you guys can play with these in between uh, let's move on to the, uh let's let's compare these cameras through the lens yet go ahead are good question for so for people wanting to get that shaky cam kind of negotiating effect I mean, are they just kind of I guess still filming regular, but just with art you think people are going for that look, I mean, except in movies I mean, obviously you know, if there's a funny story, let me let me answer that there's a funny story about martin scorsese is one of our great filmmakers on one of his um one of his great early movies is raging bulls. Anybody here seen raging bull raging bull is about it's, about, um, a boxer named jake lamotta and there's some home video footage in it not videos before video home movie super eight movie stuff, and they were shooting that scene, and the cameraman said, I can't shoot this scene. I I can't make this look like home video I have trained myself to be, you know, a good camera operas so well that I just can't do I can't make it look bad. And so scorsese said, let me try he's the director, he was never a karen, but he's, such a good director, he spent so much time filming, he couldn't make it look bad, so what they did is they called one of the teamsters, you know, the guy who drives the truck? And he said, here you shoot the shop, you know, so s o I mean are people, yes, you'll often find that sort of look in, you know, in movies where so this is home video, you wanted to look like home video, but yeah, yeah, you do what you can with it. I mean, I'm one of the things I would do is zoom in like we said, zoom in and, like, kind of go past something and then come back. What you don't want to do is go past something and come back. And I said, talked about intention. You don't want to like to your pan. We start american, you saw on shot, and then you come up and then come back.

Class Description

It is common to "postpone" your filmmaking due to insecurity and doubt: Do I own the right camera? Do I have access to the proper resources? Can I support my vision with a strong artistic/technical point-of-view? Those fears are why so many film and media projects never get off the ground.

In The Lone Wolf Filmmaker with Bill Megalos, you’ll learn camera, sound, and storytelling techniques that will place you on a simple, yet sophisticated path towards completing a moving-media project. 

Bill will help you:

  • Choose the best camera for your project and budget
  • Use the camera on a technical level, with an artistic intent
  • Develop an aesthetic and technical approach to sound recording

The class will demystify the distance from the first step to the completion of a formidable, marketable piece of media. You’ll learn techniques that will simplify your process, no matter the scope of the project or your experience as a filmmaker.


Mulk Raj

This was excellent. I’ve been learning filmmaking up until now from watching YouTube videos and from my own practice which has been great. But I found these lessons to complement everything I knew and filled in much of where I was going wrong or wanted to know, and all in one convenient place. The course covering both the technical aspects as well as telling the story. There were lots of great techniques, tips and information from all aspects. Shooting mainly on the Sony Camcorders but I didn't consider this to be an issue, and the course also provided an excellent side by side comparison with the Digital SLRs. You can see from the lesson list that many topics are covered from the different types of lenses (one interesting question Bill asked was “what type of lens was that photograph taken with?” I had never thought you could discern this from the photo). Other great lessons was on sound tests, covering reflective sounds and comparisons with booms and lab mics and the ideal placement. The emphasis was always on telling the story and the reasons why you would choose one over the other. I learned a heck of a lot from the interview section. How to set-up, where to set-up an interview, looking at all the different aspects and backgrounds open to you from a location, how to conduct an interview, how to ask questions, lighting from the far side, the concept of slow disclosure, and the final hour being a fly-on-the wall on getting the shots was really interesting if you’ve never worked on a filmed set before. I personally thought this was an invaluable insight into filmmaking, well worth the investment. Great work.

jamie applegate

I have seen a couple other film courses on CreativeLive, but I think I have enjoyed this one the most. It was very informative, Bill's personality is great. I loved how hands on he really got with his student's including seeing them actual film. It had some good laughs. Well done!

Josh Moore

Great overview of capturing video from a one-man/small production team perspective. And great insight from an expert who's done it all. The Making One Location Look Like Many episode was fascinating to see how Bill spontaneously approaches creating shots in a location.