Pro Tip – Capturing Fireworks Step By Step

New Year’s Eve is a unique opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful moments of the year. Record something enchanted, from local traditions to joyful faces during celebrations to fireworks. This article covers the steps, techniques, and tips required to record and photograph fireworks in high-quality.

 

Step 1 – Determine Your End Goal

First, decide why you want to shoot fireworks. Knowing what you want to accomplish helps you organize for the shoot. Are you posting on social media, making a documentary, or planning to sell the footage for the stock? Each application has different visual requirements and will determine the type of equipment and preparation needed.

 

Step 2 – Plan the Production

 

  • Timing is key– Plan your shoot carefully and give yourself enough time to set up the tripod, camera, etc.
  • Do your research – Search Pond5 and then sort by popularity to see the top shots. You can also check Google, YouTube, and social media for viral posts to see why they went viral and see if something is inspiring to set the stage for your shoot.
  • Scout a location – Look up different venues hosting a fireworks display in your area. Choose one that interests you and provides a clear view of the show. Since you’ll be sitting there for some time, it should be a place where you feel at ease. You can check Google Earth to see access points and get a sense of what the location looks like in advance. Also, you can look for other places nearby that may give you a better view or at least a unique perspective.
  • Consider your vantage point – Check to see if a high-rise hotel is close to the fireworks, where you can book a room and shoot from the balcony. Survey your surroundings. Look for a hill or mountain a couple of miles away that may give a much larger scope to the fireworks. Lastly, get to your location early to set up!
  • Overall Composition – Fireworks with the blank sky in the background are useful as a source for layered photos and footage. However, if you intend to use it differently, look for a location with foreground objects, such as buildings, hillsides, or trees, at the very least to add additional visual elements. Otherwise, the results may look a bit plain. Having people in the foreground is also an option, but you must count on blurred movement as the sensor captures light longer.
  • Check the weather – You can not control the weather, and in the winter, it could spoil a celebration. However, it is feasible to set off fireworks in the rain, so if you are determined, don’t discount this issue, pack your belongings appropriately, and adequately protect yourself and the equipment!

 

A Sea Of Fireworks Explode Through The City Of Los Angeles by Lmprods.

Step 3 – Gear to Pack

 

  • Tripod – ​​Using a tripod is important but set the drag loose to give you the ability to pan and swivel.
  • Several lenses – Don’t count on one or two lenses. Start wide, but using a telephoto or wide telephoto to capture the details is excellent too. Use different frame settings based on your goal.
  • Flashlight/headlamp – Remember, you’re filming in low light. Bring a flashlight or, ideally, a headlamp.
  • Stay comfortable – Take care of yourself and those around you during the shoot. Bring some chairs, snacks, and enough water, and keep yourself warm!
  • Consider the weather – Pack rain protection for yourself and your camera if the forecast looks uncertain.
  • Batteries/Battery Chargers – You don’t want your camera to die while taking your amazing shots!
  • Cleaning Supplies– Make sure to pack some wipes or a microfiber cloth for easy cleaning in case your lens or camera gets dirty!
  • Memory cards –
  • Camera Remote – If your camera has a remote, pack it to reduce shaky hands while taking photos or videos!

 

Step 4 – The Best Camera Settings For Shooting Fireworks

You need to set up your camera for low-light filming. Most of the general rules apply here as well. If you’re photographing, don’t forget to shoot in Raw so you can better play with the image in post-production software later.

Read advice from Olympus and Nikon on how to capture brilliant fireworks photos, or check out the tips in this 4-minute-long video from Jeven Dovey on setting the camera.

 

Step 5 – Shooting

Action! The big day is here. Since you have a limited time to capture your shots, we recommend using techniques you find comfortable. Try to find out the launch location of the fireworks.

  • Panning left and right – Check your surroundings and ensure you have enough space for setting up and shooting. Add in more elbow room if necessary!
  • Exposure experiments< – Remember, the longer your exposure, the longer the trails of lights that will be visible.
  • Composition – There’s nothing wrong with shooting fireworks against the clear sky. High-quality shots have their place in the overall demand among video editors but if you don’t intend to sell your footage as a source for other use in editing (such as layering the fireworks in additional footage), then consider the foreground objects.
  • Speed experimentation – Slow motion gives you beautiful moody shots, while real-time is more authentic. Play with the settings!
  • PRO TIP: Shoot the entire show on a separate camera – Bring another camera with a wide lens and shoot timelapse or real-time footage of the whole fireworks show. The backup allows you the freedom to constantly change settings with your primary camera.
  • Aerial footage – Drone footage is also an option. If the local laws allow, a drone gives another perspective of the show and a competitive advantage over other sellers.
  • 360/VR footage – Don’t forget 360 cameras! If you find the right spot and you’re able to secure a clear image, it’s another competitive advantage.

 

Aerial Colorful Fireworks In Night City Sky Bright Holiday Celebrations Party by TaigaShots.

 

Step 6 – Post-production

A lot of things can be enhanced or fixed in post-production. Here’s the list of elements you can play with:

  • White balance – Experiment with the temperature and tint sliders to find your favorite colors. Fireworks don’t have a usual “correct” color, so you can change the white balance to whatever you want. You could also utilize the foreground objects you provided as a guide to figure out what is realistic regarding color.
  • Basic controls – Exposure and contrast, luminance, saturation, darkening shadows, and blacks are all controls you can adjust. Keep in mind that the outcome should be natural and vivid, not overexposed or unnaturally saturated. Being gentle is key.
  • Clarity, sharpening, and texture – Use these gently. It may help to make the fireworks pop out even more!
  • Clipping – If you have continuous long footage, find the most exciting moments, clip them, and export and upload them separately.

 

Step 7 – The Metadata Work/Uploading to Pond5

Congratulations! You’ve just exported your stunning work! Now it’s time to sell it. To make sales, you have to think of the marketing part too!

  • Refer back to your research on Pond5 – See what keywords other artists use with similar photos and footage when sorting the results by popularity.
  • Concepts – Don’t forget to add keywords as we get closer to the other events, holidays, and anniversaries that typically feature fireworks displays, such as the 4th of July, etc. Please read our guide to keywords for more information.
  • Metadata – Choose the proper descriptive titles and descriptions to help our algorithm push your content to the top of the results.
  • Create a collection – Create a collection of your photos and footage and share the link to your social media networks. Here’s a guide on how to make a collection.
  • Earn referral incomeGet even more revenue with our Referral Program. You’ll earn a commission on every new buyer you introduce to Pond5, no matter what they buy!
  • Maximize your earning potential – Join the  Pond5 Exclusive Video Artist Program for an industry-leading 60% royalty share. Not only will you maximize the value of your work, but you’ll also save time by uploading to just one platform. And if you combine it with the referral program, you can get up to 90% revenue share!

Top Image: Sparkling Celebration Fireworks New York City Manhattan Skyline With Skyscrap by photovs

Pro Tip: Adding Tags To Your Existing Work

Taking care of your metadata is the most critical thing you can do. It is the difference between a buyer discovering and purchasing your content vs. your item appearing on the 10th page. If you feel unsure about the best practices around metadata, check out our Master Your Metadata post.

Add seasonal tags to your work to take advantage of periodic trends. These tags will help surface your relevant content in front of the right buyers. To find inspiration and to think about keywords, see our guide on Keywords and Concepts to find the right ones for your work.

 

Types of events to consider

Seasonal events – A seasonal event is a recurring event that takes place at approximately the same time. Examples include Halloween, 4th of July, Juneteenth, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Superbowl, Met Ball, Oscars, World Cup, or recurring customs, such as Back to School.

  • Examples of tags you can use related to kids playing on a playground:
    kindergarten, preschool, school, summer break, back to school, scholars, pupils, classmates, free time, leisure, family time, education, virtual classroom, distance learning, start of school, start of term, semester, etc.

Current Events – Current events live for a certain period and are highly searched because people talk about them for example, Coronavirus, the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, etc.

  • Examples of tags you can use for healthcare related content:
    COVID, Covid-19, COVID19, Coronavirus, pandemics, Respirators, FFP2, social distancing,…

On the News Events – These events are trending on the news currently, such as economics, cryptocurrencies, and political topics.

  • Examples of tags you can use for news related content:
    Midterms, Politics, Elections, The Congress, Go Vote, but also concrete keywords and special keywords from us, from social media, etc. Midterms2022, US Midterms, USElections2022, Primaries 2022 etc.

Extra Pro Tip: Always remember to update the year for recurring events like EURO, Midterm elections, Presidential elections, Olympics, etc.
Midterms 2018 > Midterms 2022

Location, date, and event are essential, especially when editing editorial footage. While editing the description, titles, and keywords, don’t forget these details.

Example:

  • Title: Vote Center, Indiana, May 3, 2022 – People In Queue, Voting, Primaries, Midterms
  • Description: Acton UMC Vote Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (May 3, 2022), A queue of people holding ballots in front of the local polling station.
  • Keywords: Midterms, Midterms 2022, US Primaries, May Primaries, Primaries Indiana, Midterms Indiana, Indianapolis, People, Crowd, Ballot, Queue, Elections, Voting, US Congress, Senate, House of Representatives, Go Vote, Politics, Politicians, Democrats, Republicans, Polling, Polling Station, Precinct, etc.

 

When to add current tags to your media?

Utilize Your Pond5 Guide to the Year and Data and Trends for insights on when it’s best to enrich your content with additional tags.

The ideal timing for adding new tags is essential. Our buyers plan their campaigns months in advance, so you should plan at least two months before the event, holiday, or season.
For example, if you have a video of people playing football, add the relevant keywords referring to the finals three months ahead of the event. Also, think of different keywords for different countries – both football and soccer should be there!

Example: A generic close up video of a football player may have different tags throughout the whole year:

The first set of keywords might refer to a local league – Premier League, United Kingdom, Uk Premier League Soccer Association, The Football Association, The FA
Another set of keywords may refer to an upcoming World Cup – 2022 World Cup, FIFA 2022, FIFA Qatar, Now is All, 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, etc.
You can consider specific keywords for UEFA EURO, Champion League, etc.

Soccer Player Makes A Kick by haizon.

 

Think of concepts

The way you look at your work isn’t always the way your potential buyer sees it. Always think of both sides of the story and prepare your metadata for everyone!

Example: If you have a shot of roasted bacon, you can use words like
crispy, yummy, delicious, BBQ, burger, etc.,
but also unhealthy, fat, junk food, obesity, civilization disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.

 

How To Add Keywords?

Follow the steps below or visit Your Pond5 Guide to Keywords for a more in-depth guide. Add as many descriptive keywords as possible up to a limit of 50 for each upload.

  1. Navigate to your My Uploads section by clicking on your avatar and selecting Uploads from the dropdown menu.
  2. Search for the file you want to edit. For a better understanding of your dashboard, check out this guide.
  3. Click on the number on the right in the “TAGS” column.
  4. Add your tags, and once you are finished, click on “Submit”.
  5. Reload the page – you should be able to see the new number of tags.

And that’s it! See? You can always enhance your previously uploaded batches of content so use the advantage of adding new tags and start increasing the sale potential of your existing uploads.

Your Pond5 Guide to Keywords

Pond5 Guide to Keywords
TOP IMAGE: Freelance Work And Writing Online Concept by VECTORIUM.

Our intelligent search algorithm works just like the search engine you’re used to when shopping for a specific item or researching a particular topic. In the same way that keywords promote pages on Google, relevant keywords help buyers find your work on Pond5.

The unique Keyword Codes (also called “tags”) in our Shoot Briefs, Music Briefs, and Buyer Requests are a great example. In this case, we assign a specific Keyword to each topic. When you include this keyword with your upload, it is “tagged” as that particular theme, allowing us to find and promote it to buyers searching for that type of content. Read on to learn expert get-my-work-noticed tips!

 

Picking The Right Keywords

Choosing effective keywords can feel daunting, but it’s easier than you think. Find inspiration from work that’s already performing well by using our top-selling content to your advantage! Search for your subject on Pond5 and sort the results by ‘popular’.

Then click on any thumbnail and scroll down to see Related Searches and Related Categories. These popular headings are also relevant ideas for your keywords!

Additionally, check out the Data and Trends section for Trending Searches and our 20 top searched keywords. We update the content every month for each media type!

 

Stay Up To Date

Keywords are most helpful when they’re current, so remember to prioritize re-tagging your work according to topical events.

For example, if your page has a generic shot of a hospital, you may want to add “Covid-19” as a keyword. Because the pandemic is such a trending topic, it’s likely that people will search for it by name—and voila! Your work would be served to them.

Similarly, if you had a shot of uniform-clad school pupils, you could re-tag your clips with Back To School at the end of July. On that note, read on for more tips on how to say the right thing at the right time.

 

Think Like a Buyer and Plan Ahead

Try to plan your productions so that your work is ready when buyers need it. Marketers and production companies plan their campaigns months ahead of the actual event, so it’s important to plan even earlier than that!

For example, if you are an After Effects artist looking to upload work for November’s Midterms 2022 elections, aim to upload your content by the end of April. Campaign managers will be looking for suitable assets as early as May, make yours the first work they see!

 

Tell Both Sides of the Story

It’s all about perspective so be sure to describe your subject in diverse ways. Buyers will use your content for varying purposes, and search terms should reflect that.

For example, if you shoot a closeup of bacon rotating on a plate, you could use
crispy, yummy, roasted, salty, burger, BBQ, etc.
However, you can also use
unhealthy, fatty, junk food, health risk, high cholesterol, etc.

As you can see, keyword planning is an exercise in creativity and strategy. Thankfully, updating them is simple.

 

How to Add Keywords:

Keywords can be added or edited in a few different ways:

  1. Directly From Uploads

    • Navigate to the Uploads page
    • Click on the bracketed number in the “TAGS” column (to the left of your price)
    • A small window will pop up. Here you can add or edit up to 50 keywords, separating them with a comma.
    • Click on “Submit”
  2.  

  3. While Editing Items

    • In Uploads, click on an item’s ID number.
    • You will be directed to an “Edit Item” page.
    • Scroll down to the Keywords section and add or edit keywords.
    • Click on “Save and Submit for Review”.
    • Note: If your media is already online and you’re just re-tagging your content, you’ll see “Save changes” instead.

  4.  

  5. By Applying CSV

    • In Uploads, click on Apply CSV and select your media type below.
    • Click on the “Download CSV” button. This downloads a CSV file of your entire portfolio, featuring mandatory information like the Filename, Title, and Keywords; as well as optional information fields.
    • Add new data or edit the existing information in this file.
    • Re-upload the updated file via the APPLY CSV page. (Applying in bulk? Find step-by-step instructions here)
  6.  

  7. By Collection

    • In Uploads, select your collection from the drop-down menu and add the keyword to each media item.

Pro Tips: The more thorough your description, the better your chances of appearing in searches! Just avoid keyword stuffing, special symbols, and characters.

 

Ready to get noticed?

Keywords are essential tools that maximize your chance of sales by putting your work in front of interested buyers. So dive in and give all your hard work the exposure it deserves!

 

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Storefront Walkthrough with FiveElement

We’ve partnered with RedShark editor Simon Wyndham (also known as FiveElement on Pond5) to walk you through customizing and optimizing your artist Storefront!
In the video above, join Simon as he takes us from shoot to upload. See for yourself how easy it is to use these features, then read on for some key takeaways.

 

Production Planning

Even before you shoot, start thinking about potential customers. In the video, Simon explains how he leveraged his surfing lifestyle shoot to include landscape scenes, expanding his audience. Like him, you’ll want to consider the following aspects before your shoot:

  • Location
  • Models
  • Props
  • Weather

Remember, the weather can be unpredictable. If you’re shooting outside, it’s a great idea to plan your contingency shots!

 

Customize Your Storefront

Use your Pond5 Storefront to showcase your brand identity and work. See how Simon:

 

Let’s Get Exclusive

It pays to be exclusive. Simon decided to become a Pond5 Exclusive Video Artist to take advantage of Pond5’s industry-leading 60% royalty share. You can sign up anytime too!

 

Refer and Earn

Simon says…take home 90% of your sales. He’s referring to the Pond5 Referral Program—giving you commission for every new buyer you bring to Pond5!
Here’s how:
Click ‘Refer and Earn’ on your Storefront or visit your My Referrals page.
Share your unique link with friends or on social media. Your referrals get 20% off their purchase, and you get 20% too!
When your referrals purchase your work, you get an additional 10% on each referred purchase.
For more info, check out our Referral Best Practices guide.

If you liked this video and article, check out more business-boosting tips, Buyer Requests, and data-driven insights to get the most out of your Pond5 Storefront. We’re looking forward to seeing what you do next!

Upload Status: Needs Edits or Returned

Do your uploads need edits or have they been returned?

If you previously uploaded files to your Pond5 account that are not showing up online, there’s a good chance they need edits.

When an item is in Needs Edits or Returned status, it means one of three things:

  1. Your files are already uploaded and processed by our system, but you still need to add metadata to each item (title, description, and keywords) and submit your work to our curation team.
  2. You’ve already added metadata to your items in the past, but you haven’t yet sent them to our team of curators.
  3. You’ve sent it to curation but it was returned to you for further edits.

If your files are Returned by our curators, that means that we’re almost ready to approve your files but there is something missing. Common reasons items are returned:

      • Missing a title, keywords, or description
      • Have a title or keywords in a language other than English
      • Missing a necessary attachment, like signed model or property releases (Make sure to check out our requirements for Model and Property Releases here.)
      • You can find the specific reason in your return note from the curator.

Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to edit your metadata, send your media to our team of curators, and start earning on Pond5.

 

How do I know which items need edits?

 

    1. Navigate to your My Uploads section by clicking on your avatar and selecting Uploads from the dropdown menu.
    2. In the Status dropdown menu, select Needs Edits or Returned.
    3. In the Type dropdown menu, change the media type to All.
    4. Voilà—Here’s the list of your items that need edits!
    5. PRO TIP: Navigate to your Tech Data tab and click Date Uploaded to filter your results from oldest to newest.

 

Let’s add metadata to your items!

The more thorough your description, the better your chances of appearing on customers’ screens! All metadata should be in English. Avoid keyword stuffing (adding irrelevant keywords or an excess of keywords), and remember not to add any special characters or symbols.

 

      • Title – Nothing fancy. Should convey exactly what is depicted in your work. Character limit: 80.
      • Description – Be as informative as possible. Wherever you can, include the date, time, and location, event name, and overview of the scene. Character limit: 2000.
        • Suggested format: PLACE, CITY, COUNTRY, (MONTH, DAY, YEAR)
        • Use English names for months, use words in place of numbers
        • Example: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England‎, United Kingdom (August 15, 1985)
      • Keywords – These are words that are used as identifiers or labels for your media files.
        • Please note that you should always include 40-50 keywords for each item. Ask yourself, “What will a buyer have to search to find my clip?” Relevant keywords play the most important role in our search algorithm.

You can add all of this information on the Item Detail Page for each of your items.
Shortcut: You can click Save and Submit for Review at the bottom of each Edit Item page and skip the steps below.


 

 

PRO TIP: Do you have a lot of items in Needs Edits or Returned status?

If you have a lot of items in Needs Edits or Returned status, it may be easier for you to bulk add metadata using a CSV file with multiple items rather than adding the information for one item at a time. To do this:

      • Navigate to Uploads>Apply CSV>Video (or other media type)
      • Click Download CSV. This will download a CSV file with your entire portfolio. It will contain columns for both mandatory and optional information. Mandatory fields are Originalfilename, Title, and Keywords. All other fields are optional. Any information you previously added will be displayed.
      • Add or modify metadata for the items in the CSV that you want to change.
      • Once your metadata CSV is ready, you can re-upload it via the APPLY CSV page. (See step by step instructions for bulk applying here)

 

Last step: Submit your work to our curators!

You’re in the home stretch! Once you’ve added metadata to your file, you can send it to our curators to review.

    1. Start by selecting the files you want to submit for review.
    2. Then, scroll to the bottom of the page. In the Actions dropdown menu, select Submit and click Execute.
    3. The status of your selected uploads will change to Pending for Review.

 

When will my work be online?

Our curation team is one of the fastest in the industry. Your items will generally be reviewed within 1 to 10 days depending on volume.

When our curators review your items, they will be marked (1) Online, (2) Rejected, or (3) Returned.

If you’ve opted into email notifications, you’ll receive an email letting you know when your item changes status.

    • Online: This status indicates that your files have already been reviewed and approved by a curator. Congratulations! It may take up to a few hours, and in some cases up to a week, for them to appear online while the site indexes.
    • Rejected: If your files are rejected by our curation team for any reason, they’ll include a note in their email to you explaining why. They’ll often ask you to re-upload the file due to glitches, unsupported formats or codecs, etc. (See our spec requirements here).
    • Returned: Your files may be returned by the curation team again if there is something missing.

9 Editing Tips For Your Next Stock Photo Submission

Photo Retoucher

Preparing your photos for submission to a stock library can seem daunting, but fear not! All it takes is a systematic approach to make this process easier.

Here are nine quick ideas to streamline your editing like a pro. For more, read Shotkit’s article here.

 

1. Get organized before you import

Be efficient with well-organized folders and a logical naming system to save time, and energy, down the line! Not sure where to start? Try using the date (Y/M/D) followed by a brief description — think location or activity. Additionally, Digital Asset Managers (DAM) like Lightroom and ACDSee provide templates that automate renaming during import. Remember, a photo will never get rejected because the filename is too long, so if detail helps, go for it!

 

2. Not too bright, not too dark — use your histogram

Dark images are common among submissions because we often crank our monitors to their brightest setting, and then edit with them. These images consequently appear too dark on other devices. Prevent this with your histogram, a graph showing the image levels of blacks, shadows, mid-tones, highlights, and whites from left to right. If yours is stacked against the left, the image is probably too dark. When right-skewed, it’s likely to be too bright. A centered graph is not always possible, but understanding how your histogram relates to your image helps avoid mistakes.

 

3. Even out your exposure

A digital camera captures light well, but it is no human eye. Thus you might need to choose between exposing for dark or bright areas when shooting high contrast. Fortunately, shadow and highlight sliders help make up the difference. If you have exposed for highlights and much of the image is dark, try dragging the shadows slider up to lift darker areas.

Conversely, bringing down the highlights slider brings back blown-out sections. Unfortunately, this tends not to be as effective as using the shadows slider! For this reason, we recommended exposing for highlights when shooting. Note that both sliders can produce extreme results, so avoid pushing either of them too far.

 

4. Keep colors natural

While it can be tempting to crank up color saturation for impact, natural colors allow buyers to add intensity when and if they want it. Attention to saturation is crucial for skin tone, as models who appear green or orange diminish the potential of a photo. Take regular breaks from looking at the screen to come back with fresh eyes!

Remember that every light source, whether midday sun or candle, has a color temperature that affects all colors. Use your white balance to ensure images have neutral light. Ideally, shoot with a grey card to calculate the perfect white balance, but if that’s not possible, try using the white balance eyedropper tool on a neutral grey or white area when editing.

Scenes with various light sources at different color temperatures can make finding the right balance tricky, as is the case with low light. In these situations, try desaturating your images slightly.

 

5. Clean up your images

Are strange artifacts appearing when you view an image at 100%? These can result from shooting in low light with a higher ISO level. Use editing software to help control excessive noise, without losing too much detail. Additionally, you should check images for dirt on your sensor. This dirt often shows up as small, dark patches, usually seen against sections of the sky or bright and blank areas of the image.

The heal/clone tool tidies up these spots, and some software provides overlays to help you find them. Have a series of photographs with identical sensor dirt in the same position? Save time by copying the cloning work from one image file onto all of the others.

 

6. Remove distractions

Stock images do better when conveying a clear idea, so check for elements that take attention away from the main subject. The clone/heal tool can help remove unnecessary components. You can also try desaturating competing colors.

 

7. Compose with the crop tool

Creating a strong composition through careful use of the crop tool can make a photo stand out. Just stick to the original aspect ratio and avoid making the final file too small! Some photographers deliberately shoot wider for flexibility to find the perfect composition during editing. That said, submitting versions of an image with negative space is often useful for designers to add graphics or create balance in a layout. This can also help emphasize the subject matter.

 

8. Don’t overedit

Remember that the vast majority of stock images have a natural look and feel to them, giving buyers flexibility for their use. A good rule of thumb for editing is that if the first thing a viewer notices when looking at your photograph is the editing, you went too far. Stock photos should be a long way from this!

 

9. Manage your metadata

Adding keywords to your images can be one of the most time-consuming steps when uploading to stock libraries, but they are critical for helping prospective buyers find your work. Check the stock library requirements and try to be systematic when adding keywords. It’s much quicker to synchronize a batch of keywords across several similar images, and organizing photos into different collections can help speed up this process. Quality editing directly influences the sales potential of an image. It just takes some planning and practice to ensure your fantastic captures truly stand out.

Top image: Freelancer Retoucher Man Works On Convertible Laptop Computer With Photo Edit by artiemedvedev.

The Hero Frame: Choosing the Right Thumbnails for Your Clips

The Hero Frame

We are visual creatures. Whether we’re attracted to a movie poster, a novel’s dust jacket, or an album or magazine cover, it’s the image that draws us in. Your content may be rich, but if your clips aren’t represented in the way your collection deserves, you won’t be able to attract all of the buyers seeking them out.

It takes just 13 milliseconds for your brain to see an image. When buyers are searching for clips, they’re exposed to a rapid fire deluge of shapes and concepts, shifting their gaze at an average of three times per second. That’s super fast. So how do you capture a frame and make your clips stand out among the millions of images they’re competing with? The process of choosing a hero frame (aka thumbnail) to represent your clip can be quick, but crucial.

 

Choosing the Right Hero Frame

Often, we come across search results that exhibit uninspired thumbnails with little relevance to the clip’s theme or subject. (See the example below.) You spend quite a bit of time adding descriptions and keywords to your clips to help get your work noticed, so it’s important not to undermine that effort by overlooking this very important detail.

It’s imperative that you select a frame that best represents your clip. The example below demonstrates the hero frames that one filmmaker diligently selected before his work went live.

Pulling a strong frame that resonates with buyers is just as important as applying accurate keywords to your clips. The frame you choose should stand on its own, much like a well-composed photograph. If you haven’t done this before, we highly encourage you to revisit your collection and follow these simple instructions.

 

How to Select a Thumbnail on Pond5

You can complete this process in just a few simple steps. After logging in to your Pond5 account, upload your clip, or find the previously uploaded clip you want to modify.

On the Edit Item page, you will see 16 frames below the “Thumbnail” header. Choose a frame by clicking on it, and try out different possibilities until you find the find that works best. The ability to capture both the spirit and the mood of a clip in one static image depends on you.

When you’ve found the thumbnail that best represents your clip, simply save it and move on to the next one. Please note that by editing your thumbnail you‘re modifying our database so it might take up to 24 hours to reindex your data – don‘t worry, that‘s a standard process.

Remember that buyers will be drawn to your collection if you can visually articulate the value of your work by choosing the right frames to represent it.

When people are inundated with thousands of choices, there’s no better way to communicate a theme that supports and illustrates your clips than a powerful thumbnail.

Top image: Concentrated Asian Businesswoman In Eyeglasses Pointing At Computer Monitor by LightFieldStudios.

Keywords and Concepts: How to Get More Eyes (and Buys) on Your Work

Gear Essentials

If you’re creating media for sale or licensing, regardless of how beautiful your work is, it only matters if people actually see it. Unique keywords added to your content can translate to more traffic and make the difference between 25 searches and 1,000 searches of your collection.

More often than not, customers will dial in a keyword well before narrowing their search to a specific theme or category — so even before you take your first shot, you should be thinking of conceptual ideas you can weave in to what may appear to be a simple shoot.

 

Give your work a unique voice

Individual shots with the most targeted concepts will undoubtedly be the bestsellers in your collection, as long as your aim is true. Conceptual keywords have the power to reveal a more complex meaning to the viewer, so take the time to analyze the image beyond the general idea and think about the mood that best represents the theme.

The more targeted ideas you can pepper into a shot, the better your odds are for increasing your revenue when people are searching for related visuals. Your best shots will be those that convey a simple message while capturing layers of complexity developing beneath the scenes’s overall theme.

Video: Young Man Looking Through Vinyl Record Collections At Music Shop by Kaspar_Films.

 

Tighten up your concepts

When you’re in the initial phase of pre-production, you should always create a shoot brief including conceptual keywords for each scene. This will help you minimize your shot list by only focusing on the scenes with the strongest concepts — which will save you endless amounts of time editing through dailies and potentially save you money in the long run. Plus, the more strong concepts that you can seamlessly roll into a single scene, the higher the chances for visibility will be.

Video: Sun Rays Light Shines Through Trees And Branches Of Jungle Forest Canopy by BananaRepublic.

 

Two sides to every story

If you’re focused primarily on the positive side of identifying concepts, it’s possible you may miss out on projects with narratives that represent the other side of things. For instance, a clip featuring a dense rainforest could be used to represent nature or adventure, but it could also represent a diminishing resource caused by deforestation, climate change, or other natural or man-made threats.

For a close-up of bacon strips sizzling on the grill, the filmmaker has beautifully captured the meat’s texture and savoriness, making this perfect for a piece on cooking or eating. On the other hand, keywords like “unhealthy,” “heart attack,” “processed,” and “cancer” can also resonate with a client building a healthcare spot. As long as the keyword is within reason and the theme is executed well, covering all angles increases your chances of the image living within an editor’s final cut.

Video: Macro Shot Of Slow Motion Bacon Frying In Pan by SkywardKick.

 

Keep your keywords accurate

Often, clients will become familiar with your work after using it once or twice, which will drive their search directly to your collection when starting a new project. Be aware, however, that if you lead a customer down a path littered with false or exaggerated keywords, you may never get another chance to showcase your work and thread it into their next story. So, while using varied keywords that cover different angles and concepts is always good, make sure to keep things accurate. Misleading keywords may get you more views, but chances are they won’t lead to sales and will ultimately backfire.

Video: Gay Couple At A Dinner Party Sitting On Sofa And Chatting by Kaspar_Films.

 

Read the world around you

Be aware of the ever-changing demographics, trends, and terms that define a technology, an event, an occupation, a community, a culture, or an individual. You can bet that terms such as “Millennial”, “LGBTQ+” or “Diversity” are weaved into the themes and stories that are developed by today’s editors and producers. As media makers, it’s our job to clearly represent these themes and to provide those looking for ways to illustrate them with the quickest route to the freshest and most relative media.

That‘s why we keep bringing you the freshest ideas for your next production in our Buyer Requests straight from the real clients, Shoot Briefs to cover current visual trends, as well as Music Briefs, a hand-picked collection of monthly requests, created by our Director of Audio Collections, Mike Pace.

Top image: Concentrated Asian Businesswoman In Eyeglasses Pointing At Computer Monitor by LightFieldStudios.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pre-Production for Film and Video

Gear Essentials

Pre-production is essential in the filmmaking process because without proper planning, your production could run over time, the film could go over budget, or you could find yourself in the editing room with missing content. Some even say, “Production is pre-production.” Whether it’s storyboarding, location scouting, or budgeting, each of the steps below plays a crucial role in the success of your project.

 

Concept

This is where you develop your story, its structure, and plot points. Ideas often are drawn from personal experiences or ripped from the headlines. Maybe it’s a story you were told as a child or a product of your own wild imagination. At its most basic level, a concept should be able to be communicated in three sentences — the beginning, the middle, and the end, translating to acts I, II, and III. Your second act should always be the meat of the film, with the first and third generally bookends, setting up and resolving the main plot.

 

Treatment

Your treatment is an extended summary of your film, typically 1-3 pages in length, depending on the scope of the project. It covers the whole story from beginning to end.

 

Outline

Most writers will outline the story using index cards so that they can easily arrange and rearrange scenes. Once completed, give the scenes in your outline letters and numbers to stay organized. These will remain with the scenes all the way through production and post-production, so be consistent and logical about your system. You’ll likely end up adding scenes later on, so set aside unique alpha-numeric combinations for those pickups.

 

Screenplay

When writing the screenplay, keep referencing your outline so that you never lose track of your story structure. Take advantage of great screenwriting software and tools, like Final Draft or Celtx, which will speed up the writing process. Once you’re finished, go back and rewrite it. Similar to the saying about pre-production, “writing is rewriting.” The average script goes through ten drafts before even being shopped, and many more if it’s optioned or bought. Once you think your script is as good as you can make it, share it with someone whose opinion you trust, and start getting notes. It’ll never be perfect, but you have to decide when the time is right to lock it and move on to the next phase.

Screenplay by phildavison1959.

 

Script Breakdown

The script breakdown is the process in which every single item needed for the movie’s shoot is identified. This includes locations, props, effects — absolutely everything. It’s incredibly important to pore over every detail in this process in order to estimate a budget and schedule.

 

Shot List

This is your shot-by-shot breakdown of each scene, with a description of the framing and other details, such as focal length, camera movement, and location.

 

Storyboard

A visual representation of each scene in your film, your storyboards can illustrate character placement, blocking, lighting positions, focal length, and other notes. If you don’t have the budget to hire a storyboard artist, you’ll need to rely on your own skills, or maybe have your production designer pull double duty.

Hand With Writing Storyboard With Clapperboard To Present Process To Make Movie by CausPlanet.

 

Finance

Filmmaking is an expensive business. The producer needs to secure funding to pay for the entire pre-production, production, and post-production process, in addition to marketing and distribution once the film is complete. Getting your film funded can sometimes take years. Therefore, some filmmakers move forward without funding and pay for their film out-of-pocket; then they sell or license the rights to it after it’s complete. The funding can come at any stage in the game.

 

Location Scout

When location scouting for each scene, physically go to the location if possible. Observe things like the ambient light and sound. Bring the shot list to visualize each shot in the scene. If the location is outdoors, think about visiting it at different times of the day to see how the light and sound change. Check the weather. If you have a large crew or a lot of gear, think about access both for your crew members and production vehicles. Bring a camera to snap some photos of your locations — this will be helpful for the production designer when choosing a location. Think about what permits or property releases you might need at each location.

Here is our detailed post about location scouting.

 

Tech Scout

Having locked all locations and produced the shot list, the director, cinematographer, production designer, line producer, and 1st AD go on the tech scout. The purpose of the tech scout is for the director to visit each and every location with the heads of each department and explain precisely what each shot will entail: where the camera will be, details of camera movement, what the actors will be doing, and what the look of the scene will be. Again, bring a camera to snap some photos. The cinematographer can use this opportunity to replicate each shot with a still camera.

 

Scheduling

After the tech scout, the 1st AD uses the director’s shot list to draw up a schedule for each day of the shoot.

 

Casting

Casting is taken care of by Casting Directors, who are very good at finding actors that match the director’s specifications. Obviously, the director makes the final choices, but the preliminary selection – which is the most time-consuming and tedious part – is done by the casting directors, who are, frankly, worth every penny they charge.

Students At A Casting Call For A Play by WavebreakMedia.

 

Production Design

After the scout, the production designer designs and oversees the production of set pieces, and arranges the procurement of anything that needs to be purchased, such as plants, furniture, and props. The costume designer does the same.

So there you have it. Now that you’ve gotten educated on the pre-production process, it’s time to move on to the actual production — which will go much more smoothly with all this proper work done up front!

Top image: Top View Of Scriptwriter’s Workplace – Laptop And Storyboard With Cup Of Coffee by CausPlanet.

Building Your Photo/Video Kit: 5 Gear Essentials

Gear Essentials

Before you can start creating amazing photos and videos, you need to have the right equipment. Building the right kit is essential for ensuring the quality of the content you’re going to produce, as well as the efficiency with which you produce it. These tips will help you maximize your budget while also making sure you have everything you need to capture your vision.

 

1. Cameras

DSLR cameras remain cheap alternatives to cinema cameras, while still providing fabulous resolution and great ergonomics. Before buying your camera, you should know that almost all of them function in a similar fashion, even when it comes to the menu navigation. The best DSLR cameras are manufactured by commonly known brands like Canon, Panasonic, Sony, and Pentax, and almost all of them are in a similar price range.

When choosing a camera, think of it as both your work buddy and your tool of trade. Ask yourself questions like: Do I need 4k resolution? Do I need slow motion/high frame rate? Do I need a high ISO for filming in low light conditions? Do I plan on taking high resolution photos? After you answer these questions, you should be able to narrow your search down to a few different cameras according to their specifications.

These cameras are currently the leaders in the DSLR world, outperforming many of their competitors in almost every category.

    • Canon EOS R5
    • Sony A7S III
    • Sony Alpha 1
    • Panasonic Lumix S1H
    • Panasonic Lumix GH5 II
    • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

They all have great image quality, extreme low-light capabilities and high dynamic range, allowing more control for color grading. Here are some visual references from each one:

 
Canon EOS R5

Video: Motocross Bike Racing Through A Corner by BlackBoxGuild.

 
Sony A7S III

Video: Chinatown Chicago by philcagenfilms.

 
Sony Alpha 1

Video: Violinist Playing In Outdoors 1 by Mrnobaharan.

 
Panasonic Lumix S1H

Video: Beautiful Green Park In Sunlight With Pedestrians by BlackBoxGuild.

 
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Video: Camera Pans Slowly Across The Fast Food Dining Table. by Valentyn_Volkov.

If you live close to a camera-rental house, consider renting out a few different cameras to demo before making a final decision.

 

2. Lenses

Close-up and Isolated Shot of Camera Lenses by rohitseth.

Also called “glass” among professionals, lenses are what the camera uses to see the world. Their characteristics and light-transmitting speed are what makes them unique pieces of gear that affect the look of your video. We highly advise that you don’t spend your entire budget on your camera, so that you have enough funds left over to purchase a high-quality lens.
Remember, your lens is just as important as the camera; top-notch cameras will often deliver a bad image if paired with a low-quality lens, so don’t skimp on the glass!

If you plan on shooting in low-light conditions, you’ll need a lens with a low aperture, like f/2.8 or lower. The faster the lens, the more range you have with your exposure and depth-of-field.

Note: f-stop measures how fast light transfers through the glass onto your sensor. The lower the f-stop, the faster the lens is, thus allowing you to film in darker environments.

These are the four main types of lenses:

  • Prime Wide Angle: Wide-angle lenses have a focal length of 25mm or less. They’re good for establishing shots, editorial filming, and landscapes.
  • Prime Standard: A standard lens has a focal length between 25mm and 75mm. These are good for run-and-gun style shooting, portraits, interviews, and editorial filming.
  • Prime Telephoto/Super Telephoto: A telephoto lens has a focal length between 75mm and 800+. These are good for shooting sports and wildlife.
  • Zoom Lenses: Different from the prime lenses listed above, a zoom lens offers variable focal lengths that can go from wide to standard, or from standard to telephoto. A 24-70mm f/2.8 is a great lens to have in your kit. It’s good for editorial filming, portraits, landscapes, and travel videography.

Note: Just because you have a zoom doesn’t mean you don’t have to move! Zoom lenses can often make beginner videographers lazy. Why would you want to get closer to a subject, when you can just zoom in? Bad idea! It’s important to always move around with the camera, “working” your subject and experimenting with different angles. Getting closer to your subject improves composition, giving you a better-looking image. Only utilize the zoom when you can’t get close enough.

 

3. Tripods

Tripod on the Shore of a Mountain Lake by packerfansusie1.

Tripods are an absolutely essential part of your video kit. They help you film steady shots, as well as achieve smooth camera movements, like tilts, pans, and zooms.

Tripod benefits include:

  • Sharper and clearer images when filming in low-light conditions
  • Fluid camera movements (tilts, pans, and zooms)
  • Holding extra gear, such as sound recorders and light panels
  • Being essential when filming extreme closeups and macro shots
  • Removing unwanted camera shake, making your images look more professional

When choosing your tripod, make sure to consider the weight factor. The tripod’s weight should always be more than the weight of your camera and lens combined, guaranteeing a solid base for your camera.

Additionally, you should consider investing in a tripod with a “quick release” plate, which allows you to quickly remove the camera from the tripod to go handheld. This is helpful when shooting editorial events.

Lastly, invest in a “fluid head” tripod. The head is what attaches the camera to the tripod; a fluid head is designed to smooth out any sudden movements when panning or tilting.

 

4. Storage


SD Card by ammza12.

Choosing the right memory card for your digital camera, camcorder, or drone isn‘t as complicated as it may seem to many at first.

Memory cards can be divided according to several criteria:

  • Card type
  • Card capacity
  • Data write speed
  • Producer

 

Card types and their capacity

By far the most widespread platform is Secure Digital cards, i.e. abbreviated as SD cards. Usually you will find the names SDHC, SDXC and also microSDHC or microSDXC. Let’s explain the individual differences.

  • SD – The format originally came from MMC cards. All cards with a capacity of up to 2 GB were marked with SD.
  • SDHC – This type of cards has allowed manufacturers to use higher capacities, up to 32 GB. Older SD card readers can’t handle these cards, but all devices that now read SDHC cards are able to read back and write to SD cards.
  • SDXC – this label boasts cards with the highest capacity from 64 GB up to 1 TB. However, this standard theoretically allows the production of cards up to 2 TB, but such a card would now cost a fortune. Devices that can read this type of card also support SD and SDHC formats.
  • microSD – mainly used by manufacturers of mobile phones, action cameras, drones, various cameras, etc. As with “large” SD cards, this designation was used for cards with a capacity of up to 2 GB
  • microSDHC – same size as the previous type, only increasing the capacity to a maximum of 32 GB
  • microSDXC – same size as the previous type, only increasing the capacity to 64 GB to 512 GB

 

Data write speed (card speed class)

Cards are usually marked with a number in a circle that indicates the data transfer speed / write speed, up to number 10. Higher speeds are already marked with the UHS-I symbol. Unfortunately, the same class mark doesn’t mean the same speed. For example, you might encounter a class 10 card with a maximum speed of 10 MB/s, and also a class 10 card with a maximum speed of 90 MB/s.

UHS-I – Ultra High Speed, which brings a customer a higher speed guaranteed by the manufacturer. Card speeds range from 10 MB/s to 170 MB/s.

UHS-II – even faster class of the UHS cards, this class of card is equipped with extended contacts for communication with the camera. The maximum read and write speed is 300 MB/s.

For example, for video on the Panasonic DMC-GH5, the card is important for maximum output, as the camera supports 4K video streaming up to 400 Mbps, so either an external recording device or a very fast card is required.

When it comes to storage capacity, it’s important to choose a card that has enough space for your whole shoot, plus more. Keep in mind that the higher the resolution/frame rate you record at, the larger the video file sizes will be. A 64GB card can record about an hour of 1080HD video or about 35 minutes of 4k video. It’s wise to purchase a backup card, as well.

Due to high bitrate, memory cards with a capacity of at least 128 or 256 GB are often used for video recording today.

SD cards and CF cards are what the camera uses to store your captured data. Their speed class and capacity are the main factors to look at while building your video kit. Speed class is how fast the card manages to record data. For example, a speed class 2 card won’t be able to continuously record HD video for more than 30 seconds. For 4k recording, we recommend class 10 or ultra-high-speed class 1 and 3.

Here are speed logos representing speed classes from slowest to fastest:

 

5. Lens Filters

Optical Filter by magraphics.

Lens filters are essential for enhancing your desired look or for overcoming extra light/shine obstacles.
There are 3 main types of filters that should be part of a basic video kit:

  • UV Filters: For protecting the front part of the lens from dust, dirt, moisture, and potential scratches. They have almost no effect on the look of the image, but keep your glass safe and sound.
  • Polarizing Filters: These help to dramatically reduce reflections, while enhancing colors and increasing contrast. This kind of filter can be used for any type of videography to cut down on the shine of objects.
  • ND Filters: These help to reduce extreme light entering the lens. They’re ideal for capturing the sunny sky without losing the texture and color of it. Also handy when shooting timelapses.

Besides the key essentials above, here are some additional accessories to include your basic gear kit:

  • An extra battery or two for your camera. They run out pretty quick.
  • Camera and lens cleaning kit. A must-have to keep your gear clean and increase the life cycle of the lens and camera sensor.
  • A case or backpack to carry all your equipment around.
  • If you plan on recording audio, a small shotgun mic will provide much better sound than your on-camera mic.
  • If shooting in darker environments, a small LED light with a shoe mount will come in handy.

There you have it. Now it’s your turn to build and customize your kit for your own projects. Happy filming!

Top image: Camera Gear Device Set On Dark Background by Blackzheep.