You may be just shooting your travels, your kids, and some landscapes at the moment but anytime soon somebody will come calling you to shoot their event. Videography Tips for Beginners
It may be birthdays, reunions, or any event that they would love to capture for sharing and throwback.
I am going to share in this post tips on how to shoot events that will make your clients love the final video.
15 Event Videography Tips for Beginners
If you’re just starting out, chances are you don’t have all the camera gears needed to shoot an event like the Pros.
I made my very first event film with just a camera and a kit lens because at that time I didn’t even know how to use a DSLR camera.
I was shooting videos with just my phone and they entrusted me to shoot a Baby shower event.
I studied the basics of DSLRs for a week then came the event.
Videography Tips for Beginners: These are the challenges I encountered on my first Event Videography Gig:
- The battery wasn’t enough
- 16GB SD card got full half-way the event
- The camera doesn’t have IBIS (In-body Image Stabilizer)
- I didn’t have a stabilizer(Steadicam or Gimbal)
- The audio didn’t sound nice edit
- Too many clips that were out of focus
- Some clips were over-exposed
Most of these challenges are the result of not having the proper gear necessary for the event.
Since it was my first time, I didn’t know that the battery and SD card wasn’t enough.
To make the battery last, I turned off my camera often when it I noticed that it only had 1 bar left.
And for the limited SD card, I deleted some clips so that I can shoot the important parts of the event.
You don’t want to do this so if you have extra cash, go buy that extra SD card and battery.
The camera I used was 7D and it didn’t have IBIS so most of the footages were shaky and unusable.
I didn’t have an external microphone so the audio was really bad so I muted most of the clips and made a music video-style video.
If you have that budget to upgrade your gear for your event video, go invest in the necessary gear first.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Necessary Camera Gears
128GB SD Card
You can have just one 128GB SD Card and not worry about not having enough space.
If you’re shooting on 1080p 60fps, this should be enough but if you’re shooting on 4K, you might want to buy another 64GB SD card at least.
If this is your first time shooting an event, trust me, you’ll need extra batteries.
If you’re tight on budget, at least one will do but remember that when your down to your last battery, be very choosy with your shots.
I was using an Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III before and I managed to shoot events without a Steadicam or Gimbal, though using one would give you more flexibility.
But, if you’re shooting with a camera without IBIS, having a stabilizer is a must.
You can choose between a Steadicam and a Gimbal.
Each has its own pros and cons, but if you’re a beginner, I suggest getting a cheap Steadicam since it’s easier to use than a Gimbal.
I recommend Yelangu s60t Steadicam
I guess you have tried recording through your camera and notice how bad the audio is.
Some cameras may have decent audio but when you’re shooting professionally, the sound quality is just as important as the image quality if not more.
You want to produce a film that produces the best sound when played on a big screen with home theatre speakers.
The hums, the bass, the high notes, and all the sounds that are present in the video should be so clear it feels like watching a feature film.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Find a second shooter if possible
The main reason is that you can’t be everywhere so you’re going to miss a lot of important shots.
You can shoot solo with a tripod but trust me, your final output will be 10x better with a second shooter.
Shooting an event is different from shooting a prenup film where you can have several takes.
In a wedding event, you cannot ask the bride to throw the boquet again, or the priest to say “you may kiss the bride”.
If you miss the shot, you miss the shot.
But, if you have a second shooter shooting from a different angle, you can insert his shots if your shots were disrupted or had technical errors.
Usually, the primary shooter is the one taking the important parts that are needed to tell the story while the second shooter is the creative shooter who shoots B-roll type of shots.
So, almost everytime you’re the primary shooter.
But, you can always talk to your second shooter and plan out the entire shoot.
I hired a second shooter and I told him what I want him to shoot and where he should be in every part of the event.
So there was no primary and secondary, actually.
We were both shooting the important parts from different angles and taking b-rolls when the main tasks were done.
For example, during the speeches, i asked him to film the entire speeches while i do the creative part but when it came to the dances, i told him to get creative close-up reaction shots while I take the wide shots.
It’s best to hire videographers that are flexible. I hire based on attitude and not skills.
Sometimes the skilled ones have this pride of shooting with their own styles since it’s their so-called “brand” and disregard your ideas.
They’ll give you excellent shots before I shoot any event, I have a clear picture of what’s the final film looks like.
I’m like having the final portrait in the mind of a painter before even starting to paint.
That’s why I have the music ready before shooting so that I’ll know the type of shots that are perfect for the music.
Videography Tips for Beginners
If I hire a videographer who doesn’t stick to the plan, his clips may be perfectly shot, it’s not usable for me.
If I want him to shoot the medium shot of the bride walking in while I shoot a wide shot from the back, but he just took the flowers and arms of the bride.
That may be a very artistic and dramatic scene, but it will tell a story different from what I’m thinking.
Thus, I’ll be adjusting the story which will take more time and brain powers.
I’m not saying that everything that you plan will 100% happen because, in any type of filmmaking, adjustments are necessary because unexpected things will happen.
But if you can control your shots by being at the same line with your second shooter, fewer adjustments are needed.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Talk to the coordinator of the event
The event may be a surprise for the celebrant but never to the videographers.
Know everything that’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.
Setting up for a shot takes time so you want to be prepared before something important takes place.
If suddenly there will be a jetplane writing a message in the sky, you want to know where the exact location, how big the font would be, where the jet is going to come from.
Preparation makes it possible for you to get the best shot possible or at least not miss the shot.
Usually the coordinator of the event will cooperate since the success of the film will greatly affecr the event coordinator as well.
You’d want to communicate with the event coordinator often to discuss how the event will flow so you’ll capture them with ease.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Have variety of shots
Maybe you didn’t find a second shooter, but it’s not a reason to have just one type of shot on every scene.
Decide on at least 2 spots to stand before a certain part of the event starts.
Let’s say, you’re going to shoot a dancing couple.
Before they even come, scout for perfect spots to shoot.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Check the background.
Check the emotion you get from shooting in different ways.
Look for symmetry, leading lines, and depth that will make the framing better. Try out different focal lengths and decide what works best for certain locations. Try different camera movements and check they will match the music you’re planning to use. Try different angles.
These preparations are best done before and not while they’re dancing.
What if they’ll dance for just 2 minutes?
Will you waste 1 minute looking and trying out different angles?
Of course not.
You want to capture almost of those 2 minutes with a variety of angles and movements so that you’ll have more options on which part to use.
Caution with speeches, entrances, and climax like kissing the bride, though.
If you’re shooting alone, it’s a challenge to get a variety of shots when the stakes are high.
You might end up missing the shot and that’s worse than having 1 static shot.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Plan your film style 1 week before the event
As I’ve said earlier, I start filming when I’m done.
The final video should be so clear in your mind that you can step inside it.
The film should be finished in your head.
You know the flow, where it’ll start, what’s the climax, and how it’ll end.
This way, you shoot with purpose. You shoot for the story. You shoot for the edit.
Creating a film from an event isn’t limited to one style.
You can create a pure music video using the highlights from the event, you can create a documentary-style film, or any style you desire.
I love to create a hybrid of short film + music video style with my event videos.
It feels like watching a movie but lesser dialogs and more scenes with just music blended with the clips I shot.
Now that I analyzed my films, its like reverse Disney films.
Disney usually adds some music videos in their films while I add a bit of short film in my music videos.
You can do whatever you want. It’s your art. So it’s subjective.
It’ll depend on the viewer if they like it or not. Some will, some won’t but what matters most is that your client should love it.
That’s why I show my clients some of my work before even having a deal.
If they liked your films, the chances of them liking your next film are higher.
Decide on what music you’re going to use before the event
I believe I mentioned this earlier but let me explain further.
After shooting the event, you’ll be on your PC editing.
At this point, if you haven’t decided on the music yet, your first move would be going to your royalty-free music website and search for music to use.
While I was typing that step, I’m already cringing.
Because it means that you captured random videos without even knowing why you captured them in the first place.
I’m guilty of this for most of my travel videos.
I know it could have been way better if I started shooting when it was done in my head.
Let’s say you decided on upbeat music.
Scenario 1: You decided after shooting the event
You have shots that are dramatic and you can’t really marry them with any part of the music.
You have a lot of still shots that don’t emphasize the people having fun. But were great captures though.
You have a lot of low angle shots which also doesn’t go along with upbeat music.
Scenario 2: You decided on the music before shooting.
You focus on moving shots that gives you freedom to do in-camera transitions like whip and zooms.
You filter out shots that don’t fit in the story which is characterized by the music you chose.
You maximize the time by not even pointing your camera on stuff you know you’re not going to use.
You shoot the clips in angles and movements that fit the music.
You’ll spend way less time editing and you’ll tell a better story if you have the music playing in your head while shooting the event.
Videography Tips for Beginners Watch at least 5 Event Videos
I read the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and I learned that nothing is original.
Your shooting style right now is influenced by different factors. May it be some experiences from your childhood or movies you’ve watched and liked.
If you watch event videos created by other people, especially the Pros that are paid thousands of dollars for every film, you’ll go to get one, two, or more ideas on how to improve your own films.
I’m not saying that you copy them, exactly.
What I’m saying is that we aren’t perfect, even the Pros aren’t.
There is always room for improvement and that makes Videography fun.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Take an online course if possible
Even after landing clients and delivering successfully, I still take online courses.
I took CreativeLive courses, MZed courses, Masterclass, and the Fulltime Filmmaking Courses.
Among all these courses, I recommend MZed since they have the real deal Filmmakers, Shane Hurlbut, Ray Roman, and Philip Bloom.
If you want the best budget course, get the Lighting Secrets by Eric Thayne. This will separate you greatly from amateur Videographers because the real secret to cinematic videos is light.
I liked Masterclass too because most of the Pros talk about the mindset they have and I think it’s just as important as the skills.
I took the Masterclass of David Lynch and after the first 3 episodes, I felt like learning no new skill yet but after when I tried shooting, I noticed how different my choices of shots were.
You may feel bored since they just tell their stories most of the time but they’re brain ninjas.
It will stick in you unconsciously.
CreativeLive is cheaper and often, they have discounts. If you’re a wedding filmmaker, I highly recommend Wedding Cinematography by Ray Roman.
He talked about camera gears, mindset, shooting, editing, branding, pricing, dealing with clients, and a lot of stuff that will make you feel ready for any wedding shoot.
Videography Tips for Beginners: Take a lot of shots
Like, shooting your daughter running around the park every weekend, shooting your coffee maker make coffee, shooting the tree in front of your house everytime you get home from work.
Be proud of it.
Don’t mind people looking at you like you’re a jerk lurking around the backyard with a camera.
I was shooting my child with a Steadicam and a huge camera, Canon 7D, inside a mall so I can practice.
I don’t mind.
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I created really awesome videos of my daughter and that’s more important than what they’re thinking about me.
There are skills you need to master and it requires practice like how you’d practice dribbling, passing, and shooting a basketball.
Master your camera and camera gear
The first skill you’d want to master is setting your camera.
To get the best look possible, you need to know the right settings for video.
Every camera brand has different buttons, dials, and menu styles but the basics are the same.
ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Frame Rate.
In setting a DSLR or Mirrorless camera for video, it’s actually easier than for photos.
Since you’d want the 24 frames per second frame rate most of the time, you need to double it to get your shutter speed.
It means that your Frame Rate and Shutter Speed will remain constant, that leaves you with Aperture and ISO.
ISO should be as low as possible but still properly exposed. Some cameras have the standard ISO, find it, and keep it fixed by having proper lighting and ND Filters.
Now, all you have to change is the aperture.
It will depend on how much of the background you want to blur.
Usually you blur the background to make the object pop out but if you blur too much, you’ll have a subject with soft edges and you might not want that.
Sometimes, videographers purposely do that for example you want a dream-like scene where you want to emphasize that it’s a dream.
But, most of the time, you want that sharp looking edges.
Arrive at least 1 hour early on the location
If you arrive early, you’ll have a higher chance of getting the best shots possible.
First of all, you can talk to the coordinator. Know when and where things are going to happen.
Second, you can plan your shots. You’ll have a clear idea on where you’re going to stand, what gear you’re going to use, and when movements are perfect for each situation.
Third, you can get B-roll shots of the location without people in it. It’s a nice thing to put empty decorated room in your final film. Some even show the preparation in their films.
Once, people start coming in, you already have clips of the empty room so there’s no need to ask them to step away for a moment for you to shoot.
Moreover, you want to shoot people entering the event, greeting or kissing the celebrant.
So, come early. At least an hour.
Get to know the people and the VIPs
One of the mistake I made when I was just starting is not knowing the people and just shooting whatever I feel like shooting.
There was a time when I shot a first birthday and the parent was looking for the child’s grandfather in the video whom I didn’t shoot.
I apologized and learned my lesson. I ask the celebrant’s VIPs everytime.
Just one solo clip will do the job.
Scout the event location if possible
Being an hour early is great but if you can scout the event location days before, it’ll be way better.
After learning about how important lighting is, I realized how important scouting the location is.
The sun is the main reason.
Where does it rises? During sunrise, where does the beam goes? What part of the location is well-lit?
Those are some questions I ask when scouting a location.
It’s not that important but when you know exactly where the light will be, you’ll have a great idea of where to put your subject that will create amazing shots.
You’ll also be able to see how wide is the location, what problems might occur, the landscape, etc.
Imagine shooting a beach wedding at noon time.
How harsh will the light be?
That’s a great problem that will affect your video, thus, your brand.
If you scouted the location, you’ll be able to plan where to place light diffusers, reflectors, or fill lights to make your subjects look good.
Event Videography Pricing
Last but not the least, let’s discuss how much should you charge for an event video.
Videographers have their own packages. Some varies depending on the event and some remain constant.
What I would recommend if you’re a beginner is to make it affordable enough that it feels rewarding and not so high that it scare your clients.
It’s okay to shoot for free in your first few gigs but don’t forget that your main goal is to build your portfolio. Having this in mind, you should do your best even if it’s free.
If you have set-up your portfolio and you’re confident that you can deliver same level of films as your portfolio, I’d suggest that you have a fixed price on your basic package.
The basic package should be enough that they don’t need your other packages. They should get the film they want on a DVD or USB. Just add “extras” to your other offers like same-day edit and raw footage.
These “extras” will have their own prices in case your couple wants to avail them on top of the basic package. To further learn about pricing techniques, I recommend Ray Roman’s Wedding Cinematography Course.
Now, how much?
If you know that you can produce the same level as the top 3 guys in your city, I’d suggest you go and place same price tag to yourself.
But, if you think you’re not there yet, lower it down to a price that you feel comfortable.
For example, the top 3 videographers charge $11,000 and you feel that your films have a long way to develop before reaching the same level. I’d suggest going for $2,000.
It’s a reasonable price for starters. The goal now is to get more gigs and create films that will match or even beat those $11,000 guys.
You don’t need to copy their style. What you need is to get better that your clients are confused between you and those top guys.
There you go! Event Videography isn’t as fun as travel videos, portrait videos, or vlogs, but the it’s where the money’s at. If you wanna go quit your job and do Videography full time, I’d suggest doing event videos for a start.
Good luck shooting your next event and if you have questions comment below. I’d be happy to help you shoot your first event videos.