Let’s face it, if you want to get better at your craft you’re going to have to work at it, it’s called practice. You should always practice your craft so that you can become the best videographer you can be. There are several very well-known artists, musicians, composers, etc. that practice daily on their craft. Carving out time to practice will benefit you in many ways.
As a videographer, you can gain muscle memory which leads to being able to operate the camera faster, which means you will have more opportunities to get those great shots. Try not using your camera for about two months. You will find that you’ll have to think about each move when it comes to dials, buttons and other parts of the camera. After a few moments with it, things will become normal again. But not working with it for a while will limit you for a bit until you familiarize yourself with your tool.
I like to take one subject and try to get as many shots as possible. Doing this exercise forces me to think creatively and get shots at different viewpoints. I recently did this exercise with our water tower here in Fresno. At lunch, I took my camera and my gimbal and started taking as many different shots as I could. In the end you will have close-ups, medium shots, extreme long shots. You can take those shots and edit them together which will benefit you in a totally different exercise…editing. If you pre-plan your shots and think about them, you can really create a stunning piece of art. This exercise also gives you the flexibility to learn more about your camera techniques. You will find what you’re good at and other things you need work on.
When I have time, I like to grab my camera and go downtown. I use this time to help me with understanding and nailing exposure as well as color temperature. I shoot things in the sun, things that are in mid shade, and things that are completely in the shade. This exercise helps me understand Kelvin degrees and what number I need to dial in for each shot. For instance, if I am taking a shot of a statue that is in shade I more than likely will have to dial in 6000-7000 Kelvin to get my color temperature correct. If I am shooting a subject in direct sun at noon time, my Kelvin will be around 5200K-5800K. Getting correct color balance is important but getting exposure correct is also very valuable. While I walk around the city filming different things I am constantly looking at my waveform monitor to get the exposure needed for the shot. Get creative with your color temperature and see what comes of it. I like to shoot with a high Kelvin to make the videos a warm tone. At times I like a cold tone, so I will shoot them with a lower Kelvin.
How about practicing with the many tools you use with your camera. When I shot the water tower I not only was focused on one subject, but I also was using my gimbal. I think it is important to familiarize yourself with your tools so that when you are on a paid job you know your limits and what amazing things you can do. Clients are not paying you to learn on the job, they expect you to know what you are doing.
One last thing I should mentions is working with your lights. Ask your friend, wife, son whoever, to sit down for an interview lighting setup. You do not have to interview them, but rather work the lights to see which lights look best. You may want to experiment with different lights than you would on a paid job. This is when it becomes fun, because you may find new ways in lighting your interviews. This exercise gives you the chance to work with your lighting without the pressure of being on a tight deadline. Try different hair light techniques, or try a kicker light and see what it does on the face of your subject. This is all for your benefit.
All in all, practicing your craft can be fun. You will learn your tools, and become well versed. I like to think about getting better each time I am behind the camera.