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Filmmaking Tips: 5 More Things to Check Before Hitting Record

Johnathan Paul

You ready to start shooting? Are you sure? Here’s a handy list of filmmaking tips that covers five things to check before you hit the record button.

Late last year, in this article full of filmmaking tips by Caleb Ward,  we gave you five easily forgotten things to check before you hit record: File Type, Picture Profile, Specs on the Lens, White Balance, and Formatting. Now, let’s look at five MORE things you need to remember before you start rolling.

1. Create a Production Schedule

Setting a schedule for your shoot is no easy task, but whether you have a large budget or you’re an indie filmmaker working on the weekend —  it’s crucial. By having your production planned out and scheduled, you can make things a lot easier on yourself. For instance, when I’m directing, I make sure that everyone on the crew — including me — has a full rundown of what we’ll be filming that day. This is vital when you’re working on a budget. To learn more on the topic, check out this great resource from Dummies.comThe Art of Scheduling a Film.

2. Know Your Gear

Know your gear. It’s that simple. Before you take even one step onto a set or location, know your gear. Take the time to study the ins and outs of your camera, lenses, microphones, audio recorders, etc. Once you know this equipment like the back of your hand? Practice, practice, practice.

Don’t just know the inner workings of your gear… know how it needs to be handled. By doing this, you’ll be ready for just about anything that pops up on set or location. Here’s a quick video from Still Motion Films that covers 10 essential pieces of gear for working filmmakers:

For more gear talk, check out these articles:

3. ISO

Now that we have a schedule in hand and we know our gear, let’s head out to the field. One of the first things we’ll cover is ISO, or the adjusting of the camera’s sensitivity to light. ISO settings can range from as low as 24 to, in some cases, as high as 200,000.

The important thing to remember: The lower the number, the less sensitive the camera is to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light it becomes. Depending on your location and the amount of available light within the environment, you’ll need to make sure you find the right ISO. Here’s a useful overview that DigitalTrends put together regarding ISO.

4. Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the number that determines how long the exposure for each frame lasts. So, if you use a fast shutter speed like 1/1000, you can essentially freeze-frame a moment in time. When you utilize a slow shutter speed, the motion in your image will become blurred.

How does this translate to what you are shooting? The slower the shutter, the smoother your video image will look between frames due to motion blur. With a faster shutter speed, you’ll get an unnatural staccato effect… Think about the opening of Saving Private Ryan. That famous sequence was shot using a high shutter speed.

In this video, Kerry Garrison gives us examples of slow and fast shutter speeds.

If you don’t remember the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, here’s a snippet courtesy of Fandango MOVIECLIPS.

5. F-Stop

Next up is F-Stop, which controls the iris inside your lens. This circular gate is incredibly important when wanting to adjust your depth of field. For example, the smaller the F-Stop (f/2), the wider the iris… which results in a shallower depth of field. Obviously, the higher the F-Stop (f/10), the longer the depth of field, which results in more things being in focus.


For a quick recap on a few things we covered, particularly ISO, shutter speed, and F-Stop, here is a helpful video from Film Riot’s Ryan Connolly

Here’s one more helpful overview courtesy of Dave Dugdale.

For more content on how to get ready to shoot your next film, check out these additional articles from PremiumBeat:

Did you find these tips helpful? What did we forget? What’s on your checklist at the start of each production? Let us know all about it in the comments below.