Practical Screencraft – Stu


Codecs (codec-decoder) compress video and audio files to a more manageable and workable file size. This is very important for video editing, in some cases, shooting raw video files from high quality DSLR cameras, the original file may be to cumbersome for smooth video editing and for storage space, so these files can be compressed to smaller video files, but you may have to be open to slight loss of quality.

Common Codecs: MPEG, AVI, WMV, MP4, .MOV, and WAV, MP3, AIFF for audio files.

DSLRs shoot in RAW video format, which are very large files with lots of data, the codec used for these video files is H.264, footage from RAW is simply too large and consumers don’t have the computing power to handle it.



Lighting is an intricate part of filmmaking, and in some cases, the most important part. Filmmakers use lighting to help tell the story more effectively with more emotion and meaning.

For example; horror films are usually really dark with very little light here and there to accentuate fear within the characters and silhouettes of enemies, this creates the feeling of it’s what you don’t see that is scarier.

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 13.47.27

Can you see him on the roof?

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 13.46.27


For films in, for instance, the comedy genre, the mood and lighting style change drastically from this. They are generally brightly lit, with warm tones creating happy emotional and relaxed responses towards it when watching.



Standard Lighting Techniques

The Three Point Lighting Technique is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery. It is a simple but versatile system which forms the basis of most lighting. Once you understand three point lighting you are well on the way to understanding all lighting.

The technique uses three lights called the key light, fill light and back light. Naturally you will need three lights to utilise the technique fully, but the principles are still important even if you only use one or two lights. As a rule:

  • If you only have one light, it becomes the key.
  • If you have 2 lights, one is the key and the other is either the fill or the backlight.


Key Light

This is the main light. It is usually the strongest and has the most influence on the look of the scene. It is placed to one side of the camera/subject so that this side is well lit and the other side has some shadow.


Fill Light

This is the secondary light and is placed on the opposite side of the key light. It is used to fill the shadows created by the key. The fill will usually be softer and less bright than the key. To acheive this, you could move the light further away or use some spun. You might also want to set the fill light to more of a flood than the key.


Back Light

The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the rear. Rather than providing direct lighting (like the key and fill), its purpose is to provide definition and subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This helps separate the subject from the background and provide a three-dimensional look. (22/02/2013)



I am definitely part of the DSLR lover movement, they are great cameras, cheap, durable, and they produce great looking images. I own a Canon 550D, which is a great little camera for the price. For years I was against DSLRs and HD, I thought it was just a fad that’ll go away in a year, my main gripe with HD and DSLRs was “the jello effect” which is caused by the cameras rolling shutter. This phenomenon is most common in hand-held shots at telephoto settings, and most extreme in cases when the camera is vibrating, possibly due to being attached to a moving vehicle, for instance. The rolling shutter causes the image to wobble unnaturally and bizarrely.


One of the main advantages people are attracted to on DSLRs is the depth of field they are capable of. Depth of field is concerned with the nearest and furthest parts of the subject which can be rendered sharp at a given focusing setting.

The Photographer’s Handbook, John Hedgecoe, 1992.






Tripods are absolutely essential on any film shoot, even if you plan on shooting handheld style or if you are just certain you wont use it, they should always be taken along. There are many different types of tripod head, used for different purposes and shot types.



A ballhead uses a ball and socket type joint for orientation control. The ball sits in a socket, which can be tightened to lock the ball in place. A stem extends from the ball which terminates at the head mount. They tend to have fewer parts than other types of tripod heads due to their simple mechanism, but the parts must be precisely machined to fit well together and provide smooth movement, increasing their average price. Balheads offer the convenience of simple controls, but are lacking in terms of precise movements, making specific alignment and image positioning a challenge.

Pan heads:

A pan head, also called pan and tilt head, allows independent rotation of the camera about two or three perpendicular axes, which normally do not intersect. Typical pan heads have lockable levers for each axis, a scale marked in degrees at least for the vertical axis, and one or more spirit levels. Pan heads can be used for panoramas, but suffer from the deficiency that the axes of rotation normally do not go through the entrance pupil of the lens and thus can give rise to problems with parallax.

Fluid heads:

Fluid heads are the dominant tripod heads used in the motion picture industry. They provide extremely smooth free movement, even with the heaviest offilmmaking and professional video cameras. The fluid reduces the risk of the camera operator introducing any jerkiness or vibration to the shot during a pan or tilt through dampening, and also reduces the friction between moving parts of the head. As the size of high quality video cameras has become greatly reduced, there are now fluid heads designed even for consumer camcorders, which are being used increasingly in television production environments.

Untitled-2 (22/04/2013)


To the typical amateur cameraman, this is an inevitable part­ of handheld video or film: When you move while you’re shooting, the camera seems to pick up your body’s every jolt and shake no matter how hard you try to keep it level.

In professional films and television productions, steadicam are absolutely essential for filming even the simplest of things that require some sort of hand held tracking, because using one properly creates a beautifully controlled shot and effectively the user’s body movement absorbs the natural jarring created by footsteps. The camera is balanced by numerous weights placed around the steadicam rig, this keeps the camera for flying about uncontrollably when in use and creates the smooth, almost floating like movement.


Crab A less-common term for tracking or trucking.
Dolly The camera is mounted on a cart which travels along tracks for a very smooth movement. Also known as a tracking shot or trucking shot.
Dolly Zoom A technique in which the camera moves closer or further from the subject while simultaneously adjusting the zoom angle to keep the subject the same size in the frame.
Follow The camera physically follows the subject at a more or less constant distance.
Pan Horizontal movement, left and right.
Pedestal (Ped) Moving the camera position vertically with respect to the subject.
Tilt Vertical movement of the camera angle, i.e. pointing the camera up and down (as opposed to moving the whole camera up and down).
Track Roughly synonymous with the dolly shot, but often defined more specifically as movement which stays a constant distance from the action, especially side-to-side movement.
Truck Another term for tracking or dollying.
Zoom Technically this isn’t a camera move, but a change in the lens focal length with gives the illusion of moving the camera closer or further away.




4K is four times the high definition resolution of 1080p, which is one of main current consumer high definition resolution standards. The other high definition resolutions currently is use are 720p and 1080i. 4K is now officially designated for consumer products as Ultra HD or Ultra High Definition.


4K resolution is now being employed in an increasing basis in commercial digital cinema projection using the 4096 x 2160 pixel option, where more and more films are shot or mastered in 4K, or upscaled from 2K.




For our assignment we were asked to produce and film an instructional video on how to use our chosen piece of film equipment for someone who doesn’t know how to use it.

For this task I teamed up with Robert Marshall, Robert Smith, Josh Carter, and Grant Lang.

We were given the Sony Z1E HDV Camera.


We were all very comfortable and have past experiences using the camera that it didn’t require outside research on how to use it or how worked, it was really quite simple and a painless process.

We decided to do a slightly humorous spoof of the usual bland, overly informative video guides that are out there. We filmed in the cove, using a nice well lit studio type look for the video.

I acted as the hand model, demonstrating how to, for example, insert the battery and tape correctly, and showing where all the functions were visually so we could overlay Grant’s voiceover to accompany it.

In the editing stage, we colour corrected the footage to give it more of an older, almost 70’s feel to it, making it a bit more yellow and tinted colours on the actual camera itself.

The thing that took the longest by far was definitely to voiceover recording, mainly because we were struggling to bridge the gap between it being a total spoof and piss take, to an actual informative instructional video with subtle humorous references and comments.


(Grant recording the voiceover)

I really enjoyed making this video, it was very different to past projects and gave us a chance to use our technical knowledge on equipment that we have been taught how to use over the years to help people, but without taking ourselves too seriously. This was a nice combination of seriousness and humour and I think we executed it just right and made a solid piece of work out of it.


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