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

Creative Brief: Mockups

Special Keyword Code: MOCKUPSP5BRIEF

Artists and creatives use Mockups whenever they want to show their work in a lifelike environment. A mockup is a realistic model that shows how the final piece will look and feel. It can be anything from a stack of business cards with a design applied on the top card or a blank t-shirt to showcase a custom design to a 3D model of a living room showing a digital painting as if it was printed and installed on the actual wall. In other words, when your content is used as a Mockup, it serves as a stage for another person’s work presentation. Creating Mockups will help you connect with artists worldwide and make their products stand out! Submit Mockups as footage, photos, after effects, and even 3D models.



Think of different products that may use your content as a mockup, whether a physical product, such as clothing, a car, a scooter, or any other vehicle, packaging, or a specific device, such as a watch or the newest iPhone. Here are a few examples of mockups for inspiration:


Green Screen Mockups

A green screen mockup is a video or photo featuring bright green color on any part of the space used for chroma keying. Other artists use this media to embed their products in a natural environment.


  • TV/computer screens
  • Specific devices, such as smartwatches, phones, etc.
  • Realistic models – of billboards, flyers, etc.
  • Stages – think of the backgrounds used for a newsroom, etc.

Product mockup

A product mockup is a visual representation of what a product will look like without actually manufacturing one. This artwork, mostly digital 3D models, is a foundation for graphic design.


  • Branding & packaging – Create different sizes and types of boxes, bottles, jars, bags, sacks, cream packaging, and cans.
  • Apparel – T-shirts, vests, trousers, caps, jerseys, beanies, hoodies, tracksuits, shoes, and bags.
    such as smartwatches, phones, etc.
  • Vehicles and Transportation – Often portrayed as the base for car stickers, branding for trucks, electric scooters, Vans, buses, trains, airplanes, etc.
  • Electronic devices – Provide different types of smartphones, smart watches, laptops and desktops, any device that can represent an app, website, advertisement, etc.

Staging mockup

Attention 3D artists, animators, digital graphics artists, illustrators, and footage creators, this one is for you! Once an artist has the final design of their new product, they must present it in a real environment. So they look for staging environments and live backdrops to set the scene.


  • Podiums – Podiums or any space that serves as a place to present a product.
  • Poster staging – Poster staging is a live environment featuring blank space for an artist’s work, such as a shot of a living room with an empty space above the sofa for inserting a wall picture design.
  • Backgrounds – This kind of media provides some context and depth to the visual representation of a product, whether it’s a workspace on a table or just a blurred background with a space for copy/paste.


Pro Tip

Don’t get stuck thinking about footage only. Photography is just a still frame – if you plan to shoot a specific set, such as a living room with an empty space for a wall painting, shoot different frame sizes, try various camera movements and also make a photo and upload it on Pond5 as well! Technically any concept can be used in every media type. You can create packaging for cream in your 3D software, create a background scene, make a photo of that, and animate a camera movement!

Keyword Ideas

Mockup, staging, poster staging, environment, realistic, podium, product background, product packaging, chroma key, green screen, etc.

Target audience

Digital artists, Corporate clients, ad agencies, non-profit organizations, etc.


Submission checklist

  • Check out our marketplace for visual reference and inspiration
  • Try to stand out and create something that pops out among the other search results
  • Make sure your submission falls under commercial use.

Top Image: Stylish Room Interior With Empty Posters On Light Wall. Mockup For Design by liudmilachernetska744.

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.


  • 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.

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.

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.

Smooth Moves: How to Shoot with a Gimbal Stabilizer

How to Shoot with a Gimbal Stabilizer

Gimbals are amazing. They’re exciting to use, relatively easy to figure out, and they expand your filmmaking style and the types of shots you can acquire to a countless degrees. You can add tons of production value at relatively little cost to your gear kit, all by just adding a gimbal.

Immediately, your shots will reveal more life, more exploration, and more creativity.

There are definitely many nuances and subtleties that need to be taken into account before and as you’re shooting with a gimbal, though, along with the overall concepts you’ll need to get the best footage possible. And even though it’s a fun tool, it’s certainly not a toy, and doesn’t work for every application — so read on to become a gimbal ninja (gimja? ninbal?). Actually, there’s already a Gimbal Ninja.

*Note: these are mostly for larger handheld gimbals (Mövi, Ronin, etc), but many principles work for smaller gimbals as well — just not smaller drone gimbals.


Balance It Out

The most important first step to shooting with a gimbal is to get it balanced correctly. Smaller gimbals, like the DJI Osmo or the GoPro Karma Grip don’t require you to balance them beforehand, but for larger gimbals like the Mövi or the Ronin, you’ll need to get them dialed in perfectly for optimal results. Typically, this is the order of how you should balance your gimbal:

  1. Front/Back Camera Balance (rough)
  2. Tilt Axis Balance
  3. Roll Axis Balance
  4. Front/Back Camera Balance (fine)
  5. Pan Axis Balance

Tweak each clamp or bracket mechanism and check the balance. Make any adjustments so that everything is perfectly level and doesn’t move after you put the camera in the position you want.


Carrying Styles

There are a few ways to carry most gimbals. While holding handles at chest height, the camera can either be upright and below the handles, or inverted and above the handles. You can also grab the center handle and go lower to the ground, and in the case of the Ronin, you can grab one of the side handles and turn it upright into “briefcase mode.”

Most of the time, your shots will be in the standard setup. It offers a ton of versatility and can accomplish almost every shot this way. When you flip it over and invert the camera (thus inverting your image), you can raise it higher above your head, so it’s good for overhead shots or higher perspectives, and can actually give the camera operator a bit of a break from the strain of standard usage. You just need to invert the footage in post.

You’ll want to use the center handle for anything where you want the gimbal to be on just one side of your body, and usually near the ground, or at least below your waist, such as following someone’s feet or rising up from the ground. “Briefcase mode” (handles pointing up and down) is also for low-angle shots but has the added benefit of being more narrow since the handle is now up and down. New handles and rings and all sorts of ways to carry these gimbals are also being built constantly (see Mövi Pro).


Controlling the Camera with the Gimbal

This is the most fundamental part of using the gimbal. You need to be aware of how you want it to act with your movements. Normally, when you pan or tilt, the gimbal pans or tilts the camera. Some gimbals have connecting thumb controls, giving you the ability to control the camera independently of where you’re facing, and most gimbals will actually let you adjust and refine the smoothness within the controls or an app, but more on that later.

Video: Young Businessman Arriving At Work Pushing Bicycle Carrying Helmet by AilaImages.

It takes a decent amount of time working with gimbals to understand how much you prefer to have to “force” the camera into moving, and how easy it is for you to move it around comfortably, so I recommend practicing not just in general, but specifically on shots that you’re envisioning for your project.


Camera Movement Options

Since you now have all the creative benefits of your new tool, you can really experiment with all kinds of different shots and movements. Here are some of the various shots you can get:

Dolly/Tracking Shot

Instead of the traditional way that usually calls for rails or a metal track and a wheeled cart (a “dolly”), you simply walk, run, bike, or ride in an office chair for your motion while holding your camera.

Crane/Jib Shot

Usually, you would have to construct the jib, then move the thing around. It can be quite cumbersome, especially if you don’t have a lot of room. The beauty of the gimbal is that you can get these rising/lowering shots much more easily by either just bending over or squatting. You’re limited to your body’s reach, however. Here’s a clip using the Ronin in a jib/crane style:

Video: Sunrise France Reborn Statue Eiffel Tower Bir-Hakeim Passy Paris 4K Stock Video by fuzzfocus.

Pass-Through Shot

This is when the camera moves through a very tight space, like a window or a hole, and keeps recording, all in one move. The gimbal eliminates many of the roadblocks that would come with traditional Steadycams or shoulder rigs and allows you to fit into spaces that are smaller. (Although, if you’re the aforementioned Gimbal Ninja, you can pretty much do anything.)

Lockdown Takeoff Tradeoff Shot

We don’t know exactly what the official name of this shot is (or if it’s actually an official shot), so we made up that name. Since gimbals are so versatile, relatively compact, and (relatively) lightweight, they can be transferred between people, between stands, or even between moving objects. You are able to do a move to follow the action, rest the camera on a stand while the action pauses, then start the next move as the action picks back up, all without having to stop recording. Similarly, you could hand off the camera rig to another operator mid-shot and keep things fresh.


Using a Rig

You can take away most of the strain on your body by using a rig. Most of them run between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the options, so they’re not cheap, but they are well worth it. After using a rig just one time ourselves, we realized we should never shoot without it. In addition to saving your body, you can shoot longer, and depending on the rig, you can do more moves with a greater range of motion because of the lack of body strain.

Video: Taking Video Of Runners by coolstock.

The main thing to take away about using a gimbal rig is that you need to have it sized and adjusted as best as possible so that it performs ideally. Once you learn your limitations, your balance, and your range of motion, you’ll start getting the best shots.


Avoiding the “Swimming” Motion

One of the things to be on the lookout for while you’re operating the gimbal is a vertical “bobbing” or “swimming” motion that occurs in the footage when the camera operator is walking. This is most common when walking at a normal pace, but not as much when moving very quickly or very slowly. This happens because the gimbal doesn’t control the vertical movement of the camera, so when your arms move up and down too much, it’s visible.

The low-cost/higher-strain solution to this problem is to bend your knees, walk with very even, deliberate footsteps (“rolling” from heel to toe), and hold the camera out further away from your body. You may not be able to eliminate it, but you can definitely tone it way down.

Video: Camera Operator. The Man Will Film With The Video Camera. Front View. The Young by AstudioFilm.

The high-cost/low-strain solution is to buy a rig, and then possibly even buy an arm or adapter that adjusts for these movements and eliminates them completely. The Easyrig’s Serene Arm is the arm of choice for many operators, but it’s an additional $3,000 on top of the cost of the rig. (Shooting in high speed/slow motion also reduces the visible shakiness, so keep that in mind, as well.)


Working with Apps and Accessories

A lot of the different gimbals’ accompanying apps can help out in many ways, too. You can calibrate the gimbal, set how sensitive the gimbal is to your movements and how much padding you want when you stop moving, and you can turn on or off the movement feature altogether.

There are also tons of accessories, and since there are ports located on most gimbals, you can plug them in directly. Things like basic thumb controls for movement, control boxes that change all your camera settings, follow-focus rings, and wireless monitor transmitters are all common accessories to add to make your shots easier to obtain and duplicate/replicate.
(Also, more money, of course).

And don’t forget about the simple things, like tools and wrenches you may need to set up the gimbal (usually included), or extra batteries, or even a C-stand to use for holding the gimbal between shots.

Video: Operator Shoots Video With Ronin in the Spotlight by studio343.


Adding an Extra Person

Another way to make it easier for yourself is to have someone else controlling the camera while you just focus on the movements of the gimbal through space. This “dual operator” mode is quite common for most gimbals and a wireless remote or controller is simply an add-on, or may even come with the gimbal itself. You can actually use the remote yourself if you have the gimbal on a stand to perform nice pans and tilts, eliminating the need to bring along a tripod.

This brings me to my final few points: Some people, when talking about gimbals, may say or write something like, “Even though it’s versatile, it can’t replace your dolly track, slider, tripod, etc,” but I think that’s not exactly 100% true. You can make dolly-esque moves with the gimbal and something as simple as a skateboard or office chair, instead of bringing along a bunch of metal tracks to your shoot. You can do subtle front-to-back or side-to-side moves like a camera slider track would do, and, as I said in the previous paragraph, you can put the gimbal on a stand and do pans, tilts, and rotations with a remote. This has the potential to save you not only money but also the time and energy it takes to carry all that extra stuff around.

Video: Young Attractive Woman Walking Urban City 4K Stock Video Footage by fuzzfocus_exclusive.

Of course, you don’t really want to use a gimbal when going handheld for something like a timelapse (although we’re sure someone has done it successfully), nor would you want to use a gimbal on a stand for an action scene — but for the most part, pretty much every type of shot is possible. You just have to be good and work at it, and that’s where practice makes perfect.

Top image: Young Man Using Steadycam For Shooting On Beach by danr13.

New to Shooting? 5 Basic Camera Functions You Need to Know

5 Basic Camera Functions

Understanding your camera and being able to adjust it to get the look you want is the first step in capturing great visuals. The number of presets, automatic settings, and extra features vary from camera to camera, but these fundamentals hold the key to having supreme executive power over your recording device. (All of these principles also apply to still photography, but this post is more video-focused in some sections.)

1. Understanding the ISO

ISO is your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. The more your ISO increases, the more your camera’s sensor will boost the brightness of the image. At a certain point, visible “noise” or “grain” will be added to compensate for the lack of light, so try to keep your ISO as low as possible to reduce the amount of distortion, while going high enough to actually see your subject.

2. Shutter Speed

This is the amount of time that your camera’s shutter is open (or “on,” depending on your camera model), exposing light on each frame. For instance, a shutter set to 1/60 is letting in light at 1/60th of a second during each frame. The higher the shutter speed, the more crisp and “jittery” your footage will look, and the sharper your photos will be. In video, your shutter speed is typically set to double your frame rate (30 fps = 1/60 shutter), but you can experiment with slower and faster shutter speeds to produce different looks. One common mistake is confusing shutter speed with frame rate — they have vastly different effects on the image.

3. Aperture

The aperture is the size of your lens’ opening, and is usually a set of blades or a diaphragm that allows light to pass through to your sensor. This is similar to the iris of a human eye, constricting and opening to control the amount of light that goes through the lens. The smaller the number, called “f-stop” or “t-stop,” the larger the opening of the aperture, and vice versa.

With a larger aperture (but smaller f number — yes, it’s confusing), your depth of field is more shallow, which means less of your frame will be in focus when shooting. Keep more of your image in focus by closing your aperture, especially if you’re shooting landscapes.


4. White Balance

The white balance is how your camera registers light and gives your image/video a color temperature. It’s measured in Kelvin, with each light source’s hue having its own corresponding temperature. Mid-day light is usually around 5600 Kelvin (K), with a candle down on the “warm” end at 2000K, and dark shade on the “cool” end at 9000K. Most cameras are pretty good at automatically setting your white balance, so don’t be afraid to use the auto setting — but if you want more control, you can use the in-camera presets or manually set the white balance yourself.


5. Frame Rate

Your frame rate is how many frames are recorded during each second of video, commonly abbreviated FPS. Technically, unless you’re using a film camera, it’s FIELDS per second, since you’re not actually capturing frames of images.

As far as frame rates go in media today, most feature films are shot at 24 fps, web video is commonly shot at 29.97 or 30 fps, and things like broadcast news, live sports, and multi-camera sitcoms are typically shot at 59.94 or 60 fps (unless you’re in a country that uses PAL instead of NTSC, which is shot at 25 and 50 fps). However, many consumer cameras today are capable of recording 60, 90, 120, 240, or even up to 1,000 or more frames per second!

You can choose any frame rate you want for your footage, but you are going to get vastly different results with each setting. A lower frame rate like 24 fps will give you a more cinematic or “film” look, adding much more blurred motion to your video. Shooting at 29.97 or 30 fps will give you a more digital or “video” look, and 59.94 or 60 fps will give you a more “soap-opera” or “live/broadcast” look with less motion blur.

Video: Fire Performer, Slow Motion by soraphotography

If you want to shoot slow-motion or high-speed footage, you need to shoot at least 60 fps and slow it down in post-production. Any less, and the image will stutter and look a little off. The higher the frame rate is, the slower your footage will be when played back at regular speed.

Once you’ve mastered these five basic camera functions, you’ll be able to work in any environment with any camera.

Top Image: Detail Picture Of Camera Lens Aperture And Anti Reflective Coating by petrsvoboda91 .

5 Tips for Shooting Beautiful Magic Hour Footage

5 Tips for Shooting Beautiful Magic Hour Footage

Golden hour is the time around sunrise and sunset when the sun is closest to the horizon, creating soft, even light. Coupled with blue hour — the time just before sunrise and just after sunset — you’ve got what’s known as “magic hour.” And as beautiful as magic hour is, it’s just as temporary. That’s why these tips offer insight on the camera settings and techniques you need to capitalize on the most captivating time(s) of the day.

1. Know When Golden Hour Occurs

The easy thing to understand about golden hour is when it happens. With this information, you can just head out on your shoot around sunrise or sunset and probably get some great footage or photos. However, the difficult thing to understand is that golden hour isn’t always a true “hour” — and there are many factors you need to be aware of to harness as much golden light as you can.

Video: Car Ferry Beautiful Cinematic Sunset Lake Boat 5K Stock Video Footage by fuzzfocus.

Depending on the time of year, your altitude, and your latitude, your golden hour’s duration can vary wildly. In Alaska, it can be up to an hour and a half in the summer, but it can also be nonexistent in the winter. There are several resources available, like, photopills, and

Most of these apps give you the exact duration for any location, elevation, and date, and can even send you reminders when it’s the perfect time to shoot. Since these moments are fleeting, knowing precisely when you need to roll can be the difference between success and failure.

2. Scout Your Location Beforehand

The only way to know what your location looks like during golden hour is to actually witness it beforehand. Go out and scout both sunrise and sunset light to see what looks best. Keep an eye on the sun’s path in the sky and look for any shadows it creates as it rises and sets. Take your camera and look at your settings. That way, you won’t waste any time having to figure out your exposure when you should be shooting.

Video: Ws Pan Silhouette Of Photographer Walking, Carrying Tripod In Desert At Sunset by rubberball.

If you’re not able to reach your destination before your shoot, you can check Google Earth or other 3D tools that actually show you the sun’s trajectory and lighting during a given time of day or year. The more prepared you are ahead of time with knowledge of the sun’s path and strength, the better results you’re likely to come away with.

3. Stick Around for Blue Hour

Blue hour is the time just before the sun rises or just after the sun sets, when there is still enough even, soft light to give you footage that looks great. During blue hour, the sky has a deeper blue and more saturated colors, which can lead to a more dramatic and melancholy feel. This can be great if you’re going for that look, but it can be tough to match the color of other shots in post.

The lack of sun means that you won’t have as much of that direct golden hue, which can also result in a cooler image. Blue hour is also going to be much darker, since there isn’t any sun, so boost your exposure as much as you can before adding noise and/or grain to your camera.

It can be difficult to match golden hour and blue hour shots, so work separately within each time period as much as possible. And, as it is with golden hour, blue hour is fleeting (possibly even more so), so you need to work fast.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Settings

As the sun rises and sets, the color temperature is going to change dramatically. In order to keep it consistent, you’re going to have to constantly monitor your settings. Pull up your camera’s histogram (if you’ve got one) and read the data to see exactly what’s going on with your image, then tweak as necessary.

Video: Close On Lcd Back Of Camera Adjustments by hhuntington2.

When you’re adjusting the color temperature of your image in-camera, auto white balance will usually do just fine. However, since there is so much warm light coming from the sun, you may lose some of the skin tones on your subjects (if you have them), because the camera will be adding cooler blue color to compensate.

Daylight, shade, or cloudy presets can also give you positive results, depending on your light, so experiment with those. The key is to not lose your blues. Manual white balance works as well, but you’ll need to keep a watchful eye and make adjustments with the light. As far as your ISO, know what your camera’s native ISO is, because once you go above that, your image can lose quality and add camera noise or grain.

Lastly, opening or closing your aperture to keep adequate exposure can drastically change your depth of field, so if you have a specific look you want to keep, don’t adjust it too much. Work with other exposure settings instead.

Video: Gorgeous Sunrise Over Tropical Sea. Timelapse Of Moving Clouds On Dramatic Sky by BananaRepublic.


5. Get Creative With the Sun

The majority of your shots are going to be one of two things: pointing the camera toward the sun, or pointing the camera away from the sun and toward your subject, using the golden light as your light source. Experiment with other angles by using the sun in more creative ways, like as a rim light right behind your subject, creating a halo effect.

You can use the sun to create a lens flare by simply tilting or pivoting your camera at the right angle to the sun (it also helps immensely to remove the lens hood). You can direct the sun’s light with reflectors or bounce cards, or the sun can even be bounced off a body of water and you can highlight reflections of the sun without actually looking at it. It’s like hot ice: the best of both worlds.

Video: Crowd Of People Backlit By Sun by RedBlue.

No matter what you do, shooting during magic hour is incredibly beautiful and rewarding when you do it right, and you’ll learn loads about using natural light in your productions. You’ll also learn how to shoot quickly within a tight window, which never hurts.

Top Image: Photographer by magann .

Working With Green Screens: Tips For Your Production

Working With Green Screen

Green screens are everywhere in filmmaking. They’re arguably the most-used visual effect in storytelling outside of credits or title sequences, and they can open up infinite options for your project. But you’ve got to be able to use them correctly to get the best results and minimize the amount of time and money spent adding VFX to your film.

Video: Nab 2016: Camera Filming Model Green Screen Background Chroma Key 4K Uhd by logoboom

We won’t get into the history* of the green/blue-screen technique or what’s going on within the camera and why it works, but this blue/green technique is called “chroma keying” (using black/white is “luminance keying” or “luma keying”). Essentially, you’re choosing a color for your background (or foreground, screen, or body part) that is completely different from anything and everything else in your frame (usually green), isolating it, then making it transparent.

*Note: If you’re interested in learning the history of green/blue-screen techniques, check out this incredibly fascinating video by FilmmakerIQ.

Screen Time

There are many options for green screens, so research to see what’s best for you and your budget. You may not need a huge screen if you’re shooting a stationary subject, nor should you get a small screen if you’re shooting an action scene with a lot of movement.

If you’re planning on shooting in the same place for every project, it may be best to just buy green-screen paint and paint your background wall, which is what many production houses and movie studios do. If you’ve already got a couple of light stands or c-stands, it may be easiest to buy a piece of green fabric and clamp it between them.

The bottom line is, think about your projects and buy a screen accordingly. (On a personal note, make sure you buy a quality screen, because many times you get what you pay for).

Lighting Is Everything

If the screen is No. 1 on your equipment list, lighting is No. 1a. You MUST have even light (or as close to even as you can get) on your green screen to make the whole thing work. This lighting could either be from natural light or studio lights, but the first rule of chroma keying is making sure the key is the same color throughout, to make your post-production much more streamlined. Here’s a basic breakdown for getting dialed in on lighting the screen:

Check for Imperfections

Make sure there are no wrinkles, scuffs, tears, or stains on your screen, to avoid any shadows that can throw off your keying. Remove them by ironing, steaming, or letting the screen hang vertically for a few hours. (If you’re using paint, just make sure you clean or re-paint any scuffed or chipped areas.)

Position the Lights

Two lights of equal wattage should be positioned 15 degrees from the green screen on each side, pointing toward the screen. This is very important. Each light should be far enough away to light the entire screen to create an even color.

Check for Evenness

As I mentioned earlier, even lighting is crucial. Move your lights around to the best position to get the most even lighting on the screen; it will make your life much easier in post.

Light It Up

Be consistent and stick with one type of light, whether it’s LEDs, fluorescents, or tungstens. LEDs use less power and don’t get nearly as hot, but they are also much more expensive. Fluorescents are cooler in color temperature and actual temperature. Tungstens are cheaper, but use more power and get hotter to the touch.

Check for Zebras

If your camera has zebra bars, use them and slowly adjust the iris to identify hot spots on the screen. When you start to see the zebras, you know you’re overexposed.

Video: Music Video Shoot by observe

Now that you’ve got your screen lit, you need to light your subject. The most important thing to know here is that you have to light your screen and your subject separately. The more separation you can have between them, the better your end result will be. With proper separation, you won’t have to worry about shadows as much, and you’ll minimize the amount of green reflecting or spilling from the screen onto your subject. If you don’t have a ton of space, however, you need to get more creative with your lighting and move the subject’s lights outward, so that the shadows are cast out of frame. Here’s a basic breakdown for lighting your subject:

Video: Guy Calling on Green Screen by cinemates.

  • Turn Down the Lights: Turn off your screen lights so they won’t interfere with your subject’s lighting.
  • Position the Subject: Keeping your subjects in the frame, position them as far away from the screen as possible, to give them some separation. This will also ensure the two green-screen lights aren’t hitting the subject. Have your subjects practice to make sure their whole body stays within the green screen.
  • Use Basic Three-Point Lighting: A key light should be positioned about 15 degrees to one side of center and raised 3-4 feet taller than the subject, mimicking sunlight. A weaker “fill” light should be placed on the opposite side of the subject, and backlight will be your third light (positioned behind and to the side of your subject), providing a “rim” light around your subject. This will help further separate your subject from the background.
  • Light It Up, Part 2: This works the same as with the screen. Choose a consistent type of lighting you want on your subject and use it only for your subject.
  • Minimize Spillage: If your actors are standing on part of the green screen, have them stand on a different colored mat to prevent green light from reflecting onto them from below. If you’re still getting green spilling, reposition your lights or move the subject further away from the screen.

Image: DSLR Camera in Photo Studio by Maxxyustas.

Those are the basics for a standard lighting setup, but there are times when you may need to match a certain scene, mood, or lighting arrangement based on your background. Think of how much different sunrise looks from mid-day, or the variance between an office building’s light and a candle-lit church. These are the best ways to light for a mood:

  • Mimic the Natural Light: If the background for the green screen is an outdoor scene, keep in mind the direction of the natural light. For example, if your scene takes place at sunset, make sure the direction of the lights on your subject are positioned at the same angle as the sun. Also keep in mind the color temperature, as it will vary along with the time of day. Indoor scenes are very different from outdoor scenes as well.
  • Use Gels: Match the color tone and temperature of your backplate by covering your lights with gels. If it’s a sunset, use warm gels on your lights to mimic the actual light in the scene. If you’re set in a winter environment or a doctor’s office, use cool gels on your lights, and so on.
  • Refer to the Background: Whatever your background image/video is going to be, make sure you use images of it for reference. Having a visual aid will make it that much easier to light for the background scene at the time of shooting, instead of having to re-shoot for consistency.

Okay, your lighting is set! There are a few more things to consider, specifically for your subject, and then you can start shooting:

  • No Green Clothes: Make sure your talent isn’t wearing anything green, teal, aqua, seafoam green, forest, or any color close to the color of your backdrop. The same goes for anything blue on a blue screen.
  • Put on Some Makeup: Makeup is necessary for green-screen shooting, unless you’re filming a Dawn of the Dead sequel.
  • But No Shimmery Makeup: Avoid using shiny lip gloss, eyeshadow, or blush on your talent. The lights will reflect off of this makeup and mess up your key.
  • Look for Flyaways: Use a shine spray to get rid of fine hairs that are sticking up. This will make it easier for keying.

What to do next?

Basically, if you‘re happy with the result even without further edits, you can go ahead and upload your green screen footage or photo straight to Pond5. You can also process the image with chroma keying tools in your editing software and export your media as alpha channel or alpha matte. Alpha channel is very easy to recognize – it contains its well-known checked background which indicates that it‘s a transparent background. Alpha matte on the other hand contains the original footage and the black and white mask. You can upload both types of alphas. Here are the examples of alpha channel and alpha matte footage:

Alpha Channel Video: Smoke Transition 2 by louderick.

Alpha Matte Video: Time-Lapse Of Opening Blushing Akito Rose In Rgb + Alpha Matte Format by zygistudio.

Top Image: Recording Interview With Politician Using Professional Tv Green Screen Studio by CausPlanet .