August 15, 2019

Filmmaking Tutorials for Stock Videographers

E P I S O D E  1 – The Basics

Welcome to our new “Making The Fourth Wall” tutorial series. Each week, our video team will be helping you learn more about how to tell stories with video. Episode 1 focuses on the basics of filmmaking and is a great resource for those of you that may be transitioning from photography to video (or have been thinking about it but don’t know where to start).

Shot in Atlanta, GA during the production of a short film called “Homme” — written and directed by one of our Senior Artist Relation’s Associates, Matthew Addington — our team braved the winter cold and worked together with an amazing team of creatives to bring you something we hope will entertain, educate and show you how simple it can be to create engaging video.

Frame Rate / Frames Per Second (FPS)

Also known as “frame frequency”, frame rate is the frequency (rate) at which an imaging device displays consecutive images called frames — expressed in frames per second as FPS.

  • 24fps: Cinematic frame rate – that’s what gives you the nice motion blur you see in movies and this is the frame rate Stocksy prefers.
  • 60fps: Shots in 60 fps or above look like “soap operas” and more true to real life, but not cinematic enough.
  • 60fps, 120fps or higher will be converted to 24fps and will appear in slow motion.
  • Current software can accept clips in any frame rate and will typically auto convert them to the fps settings of your project with minimum issues.
  • Some cameras like the RED Epic are able to capture super slow-motion shots (the Epic for instance shooting up to 300 fps) and interpolate the footage automatically down to 24fps.

Shutter Speed

  • When filming in real time: Double your frame rate.
  • If shooting at 24fps set your shutter speed at 50.
  • If shooting at 60fps set your shutter speed at 120.
  • If a clip filmed in a high frame rate might ever be used in real-time, then you need to keep the 180 degree shutter, otherwise, if it’s meant to be kept slow, you can go with a much higher shutter.

Exposure + ND Filters

If you’re shooting in bright light, you might be thinking, “How do I get this exposure right when I have to shoot 1/50 as my shutter speed?” The answer is to use an ND (neutral density) filter. This is like putting sunglasses on your lens — they basically filter the amount of light hitting the sensor. You can get variable ND filters that will give you a multitude of darkness options, or just stick with single darkness options.

Camera Angles

  • Eye-Level
    This is the most common view, being the real-world angle that we are all used to. It shows subjects as we would expect to see them in real life. It is a fairly neutral shot.
  • High Angle
    A high angle shows the subject from above, i.e. the camera is angled down towards the subject. This has the effect of diminishing the subject, making them appear less powerful, less significant, weak, scared or even submissive.
  • Low Angle
    This shows the subject from below, giving them the impression of being more powerful or dominant.
  • Bird’s Eye
    The scene is shown from directly above. This is a completely different and somewhat unnatural point of view which can be used for dramatic effect or for showing a different spatial perspective. In drama it can be used to show the positions and motions of different characters and objects, enabling the viewer to see things the characters can’t. The bird’s-eye view is also very useful in sports, documentaries, etc.
  • Worm’s View
    Opposite from Bird’s Eye view, this angle is close to the ground looking up, conveying an unnatural point of view from below.
  • Slanted/Dutch Tilt
    This is where the camera is purposely tilted to one side so the horizon is on an angle, creatin an interesting and dramatic effect. Famous examples include Carol Reed’s The Third Man, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and the Batman series.

Shot Types

  • Extreme Wide Shot
    Often used as an establishing shot. In the extreme wide shot, the subject is barely visible.
  • Medium Wide Shot
    The subject is visible but the emphasis is still to place them in their environment.
  • Wide Shot
    The subject takes up the full frame.
  • Mid Shot
    Shows more details of the subject but alludes still to the full subject.
  • Medium Close up
    Halfway between a mid shot and a close-up.
  • Close up
    A certain feature or part of the subject takes up the full frame.
  • Extreme Close up
    With this shot, you can focus on extreme details of your subject.
  • Over the Shoulder shot
    Looking from behind a person to the subject.
  • POV shot
    From the point of view of the subject.

E P I S O D E  2 – Composition & Focus

Welcome to episode 2 of our new “Making The Fourth Wall” tutorial series. Each week, our video team will be helping you learn more about how to tell stories with video.

In this episode, our guide, George Georgeadis and the team dive into the world of composition and focus, two of the most important aspects of any good looking video. Touching on technical and creative aspects, we get into the techniques like “The Rule of Thirds”, “Leading Lines” and changing focus intentionally to help direct an audience and tell a compelling story.


Composition is how one positions different elements inside a frame — what to show, what not to show, how and why. Balance, framing, staging and depth are all key to how you present “space” in a scene. Some composition principles to take in:

  • Intentionally direct the positioning of elements in your frame to enhance the meaning, emotion and outcome you want to achieve from a shot.
  • Classic composition techniques such as “the rule of thirds”, “the golden ratio”, “triangular composition” are still useful and still found today in professional video and film.
  • Try and tell an entire story with one single shot. Composition, first and foremost, should draw a viewer’s attention – what should the viewer be looking at and how can you make them look at it.
  • Try the Rule of Thirds & Golden Ratio – An image can be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements can be placed along these lines or their intersections to create balance.


For a lot of people, the first lens they put on their camera is a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 to create depth of field. However, you don’t necessarily want to do that as it can cause some technical issues or make you hunt for focus a lot more, so instead follow these tips:

  • Find focus before you start recording.
  • Practice the move with your hands beforehand if you are planning on moving in and out of focus.
  • It’s very popular to go for extremely shallow depth of field, but avoid it unless it’s necessary for your story, shot etc.
  • Looking at Hollywood movies for inspiration, you’ll notice that the background often is not out of focus except in specific shot types like close-ups etc. So don’t be afraid to close down to a lower F stop.
  • When you have two people in a shot, you can switch focus between them to aid the story.
  • Use intentional focus change within a shot, don’t just play with the focus hunting for your subject.
  • A good example for switching focus — when a character turns to look at something, try creating a sense of “being” that character by switching the focus to unveil what that character is looking at.
  • Consider investing in a follow focus solution for your setup that can aid you achieving better focus control.

E P I S O D E  3 – Lighting

Welcome to Episode 3 of our “Making the Fourth Wall” tutorial series from Stocksy.  In this episode, our guide George Georgeadis and the video team dive into the world of lighting, be it indoor or natural and the best practices for how to use both.


Natural light can often be the best light and sometimes is really your only option — so it’s great to know how to use it to your advantage. In this episode, we cover principles of bounce and diffusion and well as blue hour and magic hour techniques that can set the tone or mood of your shot. Be sure to scout your location and plan in advance — optimal blue and magic hour moments are fleeting and can result in missed opportunities if you aren’t prepared.


3-point lighting systems are relatively standard in filmmaking but can seem daunting at first. Here we cover the simple principles of setting up your Key Light – your main light placement that usually highlights your actor, Fill Light – usually less bright and set opposite your key light, and Back Light – set behind and higher than your subject to provide definition and subtle highlights.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with practical lights like lamps, TVs, phones, candles etc. They can set a mood and convey intention to support your storyline.

E P I S O D E  4 – Camera Movement

In this episode, we take a look at the principles of motivated and intentional camera movement. A still or locked-off video shot can be powerful within a certain context, however, if you really want to elevate the quality and cinematography of your videos, knowing when, why and how to use camera movement techniques are some of the most important things you’ll ever learn about video storytelling. Let us show you how!

Motivated Camera Movement

Camera movement should always have a purpose for supporting your storyline. If movement isn’t something you’re looking to do, investing in gimbals or shoulder rigs will help to keep your camera steady while filming. Remember, a small movement while filming will always show up larger on screen. Your lens focal length can also help to keep things steady — the shorter the lens, the less the camera movements will have a shaky impact.

Intentional Camera Movement

When speaking of intention, think about what you want your audience to feel. If they are meant to be more of a spectator, then panning can be a useful tool. If you want your viewers to feel more like they are “in the shot”, try focusing on a subject like a person and follow them through the shot. You can also try “push in” and “push out” techniques to add importance and emotional depth to a scene.

E P I S O D E  5 – The Emotion of Lenses

Have you wondered why certain shots in movies “feel” a certain way? Or how one shot can communicate a director’s intention? That’s the magic of lenses. Knowing what lenses to use, and when and how to use them, is one of the most impactful storytelling skill sets you can have in filmmaking. Learn more about how to tell your story with lenses and BONUS get some info on the very necessary step of obtaining releases in our final Making The Fourth Wall video tutorial episode.

Wide Angle Lens 24-35mm

Using this type of lens can create shots that showcase the size/vastness of the scene that’s captured by making the horizon seem further away. A wide-angle lens is perfect for landscapes and is commonly used for establishing shots. It can be a great tool for creating a sense of awe and wonder at the vastness of a scene.

Normal Lens 40-55mm

Using a 50mm can achieve what your eyes typically see, capturing everyday life and a realistic perspective. This lens works best for subjects at a close-to-medium distance — when you don’t need to zoom in on something far away or get super close to a small object. A normal lens will do wonders for bringing your viewer into the scene.

Telephoto + Zoom Lenses 70mm-∞

Get close to a distant subject using a telephoto lens (they have a focal length of over 70mm typically). If you’re trying to craft an image that’s filled by the subject, a telephoto or a zoom can make the viewer feel very close to the subject. Shorter telephoto lenses can be great for portraits, as they tend to make your subject really stand out from the background. Keep in mind, your subject doesn’t need to be very far away to use a zoom or telephoto lens. You just have to decide how close you want to get. 😉

Macro Lens

Macro lenses are used for capturing close-ups that draw attention to the magic of the ordinary, showing details, textures and important story elements otherwise missed by the human eye. Many of them produce a 1:1 image — which means that your subject is reproduced on the camera sensor at life-size, allowing for huge amounts of detail. Macro lenses also excel at creating images with a shallow depth of field, leaving only the foreground in focus.

✨Thanks for being a part of our tutorial series. Click here for more on Grading in Resolve, Ungraded Footage, and the Best Pro Video Cameras. Always shoot what is true to you, keep trying, keep failing, take risks, experiment and raise the bar higher and higher. You got this. ✨

Peruse Stocksy’s Video Collection for some filmmaking inspiration >>

As a filmmaker, director, game designer and podcaster, George Georgeadis is always looking for opportunities to embrace his love of storytelling. In his free time, you’ll find him designing board games, lost in the world of VR, travelling with his husband, stargazing or enjoying his home theatre and movie memorabilia collection.

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