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How To Shoot A Video Project On Your Own

How To Shoot A Video Project On Your Own

This year has given the VFX and filmmaking industry many challenges, so we're showing you ways to stay creative and on top of your game.

Quarantine has presented plenty of unique challenges for every industry. If you’re a VFX artist or filmmaker, you’ve (most likely) had to adapt to not only working efficiently in a remote environment, but also maintaining your creativity during these extremely restrictive times.

Today, we’re talking about how you can expand your skills as a solo filmmaker and boost your creativity in the midst of the pandemic. We’re going to share several ideas that will hopefully empower and inspire you to finish a passion project you’ve wanted to work on for a while, or maybe spark a fresh idea for something new. 

These ideas also apply to anyone who happens to be a one-person band, or may be faced with shooting on your own in the future.

Charge up your camera batteries and read on!
Filmmaker holding a camera on a shoot.

Flexibility in Solo Video Production Can Broaden Your Creativity

Of course, shooting by yourself has numerous drawbacks as opposed to shooting with a crew, the chief of which can be severely limited production value. 

However, on traditional shoots, you’re also working with cast and crew scheduling, collaborating with a team, and dozens of other logistics that can often hamper your own artistic freedom as an individual filmmaker.

When you’re shooting by yourself, you have the option to spend far more time meticulously crafting each shot, or you could simply venture out on a completely spontaneous shoot if you’re feeling adventurous!

Either way, you get to set the pace and have total control. With enough time and thought, you can still achieve incredible results.

Check out Film Riot’s video below to see how filmmaker Joe Simon produced a gorgeous sci-fi short practically all on his own.
Key elements Simon attributes to the successful production of his one-man short film are finding the right locations, and shooting at the best times of day. 

Which Cameras are Best for Solo Filmmaking?

Mirrorless cameras typically work great for low light scenarios (especially cameras like Sony’s new a7SIII), which can be really helpful if you’re shooting indoors, because you don’t have to lug around a lot of lighting equipment. Plus, they’re lightweight enough that you don’t have to deal with heavy tripods or elaborate setups, so you can have a lot of mobility to get that perfect shot.

Another benefit of most modern mirrorless cameras is the fact that they often feature wireless connectivity to your phone, so you can review and control your camera from a distance if you’re filming yourself on camera.

DJI’s Osmo Pocketcamera is another great candidate for solo shooting. Not only can you utilize the wide angle lens and selfie mode for close-ups of yourself, but this tiny camera can be placed almost anywhere and yield beautiful 4k video.

It handles low light surprisingly well, and when paired with DJI’s extension rod and wireless module accessories, the possibilities are endless.

It can also shoot at 120fps in 1080p, and when you combine that with its smooth gimbal, it’s perfect for filming epic (yet simple) VFX shots like the one below.
Even cell phone cameras have come such a long way in recent years, that you could make a perfectly suitable short film with one, so don’t let a lack of cinema cameras stop you from capturing your story.  

Add Subtle Camera Movements in Post

If you want to have the best quality your camera can produce, it’s a no-brainer to set your camera on its highest resolution settings. Beyond that, shooting in a higher resolution means you can operate on a 1080p timeline with tons of headroom when it comes to scaling and framing without sacrificing image quality to get your shot composition just right.

If you’re the starring talent in your solo project, you can shoot on a tripod and animate a slow zoom in or out of different scenes, or even throw in digital camera shake to give your project a handheld look and simulate the feeling of a camera operator.

Experiment with Lighting

We all know lighting plays a crucial role in effective filmmaking, and shooting a project on your own can give you a lot of opportunities for building compelling lighting setups.

Using affordable smart bulbs, your can tune your lighting to whatever colors you can imagine, and create a truly stunning look for your film.

Take Advantage of VFX Shortcuts

The problem of limited production value when shooting alone can be mitigated with quality visual effects that make an impact.  

Speaking of phone cameras, we recently covered the powerful new VFX camera tracking app, CamTrackAR (from the makers of HitFilm).

If you’re looking for a great way to streamline your VFX process, this is an amazing tool that allows you to simultaneously capture 3D tracking data while shooting video on your phone’s camera. It will help you spend less time dealing with camera tracking in post, and allows you more time to focus on your project as a whole.

If you want to shoot an indoor scene with eye-catching visuals, you can use a green screen outside of windows to add in whatever background you want!

A beautiful matte painting or an animated photorealistic landscape can go a long way in giving your project a polished look. It also keeps you from having to build out an entire CG set!
Finally, one of the best VFX shortcuts we can think of is using ActionVFX assets to enhance your project’s overall production value. We’re the largest VFX library on the planet, so no matter what you need, we’ve got you covered

We’ve been honored to provide industry-leading VFX assets to everyone from low-budget indie filmmakers, all the way to major VFX studios that regularly produce Hollywood blockbusters. See for yourself below.
Take a look at our library for inspiration on how you can amplify your next project!

First time here? ActionVFX creates the best pre-keyed stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

From Fire and massive Explosions to Blood and Gore VFX, we have the largest VFX library in the world ready to be composited in your project. Check out over 3,400 VFX stock footage elements right here

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