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Making Amazing Handheld B-roll Videos Step by Step


This video might seem like a little bit of meta (you are looking at a video talking about a video talking about a video here) but photographer James Matthews actually made something interesting on this one talking about how his colleague, photographer Daniel Schiffer approach to shooting a fast-moving action style food making video and added some very interesting comment based on his experience and his our (somewhat different take) to the subject.

A little while back photographer Daniel Schiffer made a series of videos looking at a project he did (see the three videos below) explaining his process for shooting and editing a fast-moving action style food making video.

James Matthews decided to brake down Schiffer’s own BTS video, explain why he thinks that Schiffer did what he did and gave his own commentary (some of it pretty humorous by the way).

here are a few takeaways from this video (and actually from all of the videos in this post, all revolving more or less around the same topic):

  • Use for manual focus – you will need to sharpen your skill of nailing the focus and changing the focus through the motion (part of it is trying, again and again, the same move until you nail the focus, you can also try and close the aperture and in certain shots you might be able to start from the focused shot and move backward and apply reverse speed effect in post – but this will not work for some shots).
  • Work hand-held – both Schiffer and Matthews work handheld. This might sound strange in a time when so many gimbals are available, however, for this type of shots, there is really no substitution for handheld motion (robots might do – but they are still very expensive and hard to use).
  • Use a camera strap for added stability – a camera with good IBIS is important, two-handed grip of the camera is a must and moving with your whole body and not just your hands is also important. You can add some extra stability by using a neck strap for another point of contact with the camera.
  • Use slow motion – slow motion (i.e. 60 or even 120fps) will not only give you some cool moments but also give you another level of smoothness, reducing the visible effects of the handheld camera motion.
  • Follow your subject  – this might seem obvious but it requires some thinking in advance. For example, shooting a scene with liquid pouring down you can shoot on the edge of the table and go below the level of the table to prevent an abrupt stop to your scene. You also need to always think about the next shot and how the end of one shot connects to the end of the next shot (so end one shot and continue the next in a way that will look organic – move in the same direction, have the same color/blur in the frame, etc.).
  • Add sound effects – Sound design is one of the most important things in this sort of genre, a blade hitting the cutting board, a fruit rolling, and of course, different transition sounds – all add considerably to the feel of your video.
  • Add visual effects – this worked great for Schiffer and Matthews has done a similar thing with some of his videos as well. You can add some flares, text and other effects to enhance the look – but don’t go too far so that those will distract from the actual content.

Schiffer’s breakdown of his B-roll epic video

Schiffer’s editing breakdown of his B-roll epic video

Schiffer’s on nailing focus of his epic B-roll

Bonus video: James Matthews own (fairly similar) cool B-roll food making video

As always you can find more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid.

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