Tricks and Tips on shooting clips on a budget. Credit – http://www.twitter.com/DannyCVideo
If you’re starting out in terms of shooting your own clips for “many vids” or” just for fans” etc, you might be thinking just where to start. Well hopefully some of the information below should be enough to get you started.
When considering the options available, I’ve tried to work with no-budget to a £300 budget as a start up cost. Truth be told, you can spend £1000’s on cameras and equipment, but each jump in cost has marginal returns (and remember, you need to make money off your clips at the end of the day!), so this is all about getting the best bang for your buck or getting started.
If you’re making clips for your fans site, you can start out with a smart phone if you don’t have anything else to hand. Anything in the past couple of years (this article was written in spring 2020) could do the job at a push. It’s not goign to be fantastic, but there are a couple of simple tricks and tips which should greatly imrove the quality of your clips
1) use landscape mode – yes, hold the phone in landscape, nothing worse than holding it in portrait and only having a 3rd of the screen filled when you post your clips!
2) white balance – more about lighting below, but did you wonder why you look too yellow / blue in your clips? Well, white light has a ‘colour’. To get the camera to capture the light as you see it, you need to adjust white balance. This is available on most smart phone, but you have to go into advance settings. To set white balance, get a white sheet of printer paper and adjust the colour ‘temperature’ or daylight/flourscent lamp/shade settings until the paper looks white. Well done, you now don’t looks like an oompa loompa or a member of the simpsons 🙂
3) Learn to hold the camera – Don’t do what they call ‘fire hosing’ with the camera, ie. rapidly point it whatever you think is interesting. Hold on a shot for at least 10-20 seconds. Slow, gentle movements of the camera. If you have someone to help, use them. If you don’t have anyone who can help, get a cheap tripod. All of this makes editing easier or means you don’t need to edit as much. Stabilising video is a pain and jerky video makes you look unprofessional. Other options include using a go-pro, which has some stabilisation built in and masses of mounting options (at a cost!).
4) light your subject/scene better – before investing in a ‘better camera’ try making better use of lighting (more on this later).
5) Improve your camera – Pro tip, if you shoot video out doors in sunlight and you get great results, your camera is ‘probably’ good enough. You need to invest more in lighting than a camera. If your image still doens’t look up to scratch, then yes, it’s probably time to think about another camera. Thankfully, there’s lots of options availale now days to get good quality video on a budget.
As a step up from a phone, I’d reccomend a standard consumer camcorder. I’m personlly a big user of Canon. Most items from the LEGRIA range should be fine. You can pick up somethig decent (HD) for less than £100 from ebay. I personally wouldn’t buy new, but invest more into lighting and sound. The minimum spec that I’d go for are Full HD (1080p) 24 Mbit data rate, decent battery (including charger if you’re buying second hand), HDMI out and ideally an audio IN port. A camcorder is small, portable and you can do indoor/outdoor clips.
If you’re looking for an alternative, a second hand GoPro is also a good bet. I have a Hero 6, but you do need to set these up properly for the best video quality (plenty of you tibe videos on that). A GoPro has the advantage of being very portable (so great for POV and exhibitionist pics) and the later models also shoot 4k with quite nice colours. battery life isn’t great, but hey.
Prosumer cameras – ok, these are a step up in quality, but they also require you to learn more about how to use them. At this stage, you really DONT need a £1000 camera
Pro – Ok, we’re now talking about 2k+ cameras. Yes, for obvious reasons, they can do more than a phone or simple camcorder (the image quality is vastly improved), but you really don’t need this for porn. But if you know someone with one, use it 🙂
In terms of stills, a cheap brand name point and shoot camera is always going to be better than your phone. It doesn’t need to be a silly number of megapixels, but a good brand (sony, canon etc). I also prefer proper stills versus screen caps from video for promotion, it just sets the quality of your work a bit higher.
Ok, I’m assuming that you may have spent £100 of your budget on a 2nd hand camcorder. The next need is good lighting.
If you’re using your garden/ourdoors, well, you don’t need anything. Natural sunlight is the best lighting that you’re going to get for free/cheap. This can also include shooting next to big windows if indoors (e.g. patio doors / conservatories). Remember, don’t shoot into the window (else you’ll end up with a silouette), but in the same direction as the light enters the window.
If you can’t use natural light, then what lights do you have in the house that you could re-purpose? Work lights, desk lamps, ceiling lights? These lights aren’t ideal (they all have different colour temperatures and rendition indexes), but if that’s all that you have.
The next step up is to buy a cheapish kit. Big compact flourescent lights tend to be the best cheap option. Normally listed as a studio softbox kit or CFL kit on ebay. Getting the stands and softboxes with them keeps your costs down. I’d go for the highest wattage that you can (~1300w in total), plus find a set which has a temperature of about 5600K. What sets the cheap ones apart from a decent set is the colour rendering index of >95 (normally listed as CI). The colour index is really what makes your skin tone look normal. A cheap set will light the scene but make the colours a bit weird, or downright crap.
CFLs aren’t very transportable, so if you do need to move them a lot, I’d reccomend looking at LED lights. Once again, not all lights are the same, look at the CI.
In terms of how much light, well, light follows the inverse square rule. Simply, if you move the lights twice as far from the subject, you only get an 8th of the light on the subject (e.g. moving a light to 2M an 800W bulb is the equivalent of a 100W bulb). Can’t afford more expensive lights, move them closer or move the camera closer 🙂
Depending upon your budget, I’d also reccomend looking into a ring light. A cheap one at about £30 will do, but try and pick one which will fit on a light stand. You can use this for addtional fill light and to get catchlights in your eyes.
Try watching a great film with the sound off. it’s rubbish. Try watching porn with the sound off, it’s not as good.
If you’ve invested in the camera and lights, you’ve probably chewed through £200 of your budget. The cheapest option you might have (other than the microphone on the video camara) is a cheap laveleer mic from ebay. For a more directional micropone, I’d suggest a takstar sgc-598 which you could plug into your camera. If you want to go to another level up, I’d reccomend a zoom H1, but then you’re adding complexity in terms of edting.
If you need to do re-dubbing on any audio and you want a good sound booth, just record your audio under your duvet, boom, instant sound booth!
Other bits and pieces
Sd cards – only get good ones DIRECT from Amazon (not resellers on amazon), there are a lot of fakes out there. Do you want to lose your precious footage?
Tripods: Get a cheap second hand one from ebay for about 10-20 quid. Look for a fluid head
Light stands: second hand on ebay for 10-20 quid each
Umbrellas – a great alternative for softboxes (and in my view, better for porn) – £5-10, new or second hand on ebay.
Storage: external hard drives to share footage at a shoot or back up your own work. Look for 1-2TB drives from Western Digital or Samsung. They are quality brands which should last
FREE – yes, you can get great free software. Packages, I’d reccomend would include:
Audacity – for editing audio, and removing noise. Please clean up your audio, no one wants to hear the hiss in the background!
Davinci Resolve – for video editing, maybe a bit overkill for most, but the standard version is free (and it’s got all that you need at this stage plus a whole lot more)
Picture editing – paint.net. Free and like a lite version of photoshop. It’s good enough to do some basic work such as sticking your logo on your pictures or creating a logo to stick on your video clips to limit piracy. One you get good at it, you can also remove blemishes from stills and ‘photoshop’ images.
Using the software is a bit outside of the scope of this text. But there are other option such as imovie if you’re simply creating clips on your phone.