5 Ways To Make Your Films More Professional
1. Change your lens
Instead of using the zoom lens that came with you camera, switch to a prime lens. This doesn’t have to be expensive, you can go for something like a nifty fifty, as cheap as £60 but it will make your visuals look better because prime lenses are built differently to zoom lenses and most of them let more light into the lens, which gives you far more control over the light.
2. Light your scene.
Whatever you’re filming, spend some time painting with light. Create light and shadow, add colour. If you're strapped for cash I would suggest using these photography lights. You can get a lot out of them if you experiment.
Lighting is what makes Hollywood films look like Hollywood films. You can achieve evocative and beautiful lighting effects using very cheap lights, like photography lights and table lights, chinese lanterns and reflectors.
3. Use a tripod
Use a tripod or some form of stabilisation while filming. Handheld shots have their place but shots always look more professional when they are either static on a tripod or if they are moving smoothly.
I would advise investing in a good stable tripod - Libec is a good make. Be prepared to spend between £200-£1000 on a good, sturdy tripod. Believe me IT IS WORTH IT. Make sure it has a FLUID HEAD as this makes panning and tilting much smoother which affects the smoothness of the footage and has a huge impact on the quality of your images.
4. Incorporate camera movement
Try to weave camera movement into your scenes and shots. If you’re shooting narrative or drama, think about where you can use camera movement in your scene and why. Does a slow push into the scene tell us something about that character? Tracking shots raise your film’s professionalism up a notch and can really help you to tell the story in a more powerful way.
You can buy relatively cheap steadicams now and if you have a small camera, 3-axis gimbals are more affordable too. If you can't afford to buy these, you can always rent them for the day for so much less. Gliders are also a great way to get movement.
5. Think about your framing
The way you frame your shot, the way you use the camera to see people is what will make you stand out from every other person with a camera. Two people can film the same person in the same scenario and one will simply capture the image, while the other will make you feel something about the subject. Watch films, analyse how they frame shots, go out with your camera and spend time just sitting filming people. Zoom in on them, follow their faces, spend hours with your camera, seeing through the lens.
Should you film from a low angle, or just behind this person’s head? Does it matter if you can see their whole face or not or are we focusing on the space just next to their eye in the direction they are looking? Find an object, like a cup - how many different ways can you frame that object and which compositions are the most interesting and leave you feeling something?