10 Tips To Achieve Great Visuals Using Low Cost Equipments

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on June 30, 2015

As the debate on film vs digital rages on, many filmmakers and cinematographers have wholeheartedly accepted digital as the new face of filmmaking. Begin Again, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Haider and Kon Tiki are some of the most interesting & diverse film in recent times, that have been shot on digital.

But great cameras come do not come cheap. Of course, over the last year or so, prices of 4K digital cameras have gone down. But when you are starting out you may not be able to afford a high-end camera. But how does one get a great output using cheaper cameras like Canon 7D, Canon T2i, Sony FS100, Blackmagic Pocket Camera or the Canon 5D?

A video by Brannigan Carter lists down some great tips that can help you achieve high quality visuals on a low budget. We have summarised the key learnings from the video below for you. Or you can watch the video here.

1) Pick A Good Quality Lens

These cameras give great colours and images. But the challenge lies in using them in the best possible way to get a high quality output. It therefore is very essential to pick good quality lens that will help you in achieving that.

2) Use the Camera..Don’t Let It Use You

A good cinematographer should always be well versed with ISO, aperture, white balance and the technical aspects of cameras and shooting equipments. It's very likely that you get swayed by the various cool features your camera has to offer. However, one must resist the temptation and use the camera, to your advantage, rather than letting it dictate and override your judgment.

3) Buy A DSLR Rig

DSLR rigs are worth every penny (or paisa) in your wallet. A DSLR Rig helps you achieve sturdiness while shooting hand held. They might appear heavy and therefore a bit difficult to use initially. But once you get used to it, nothing can stop you from making the most of your camera.

4) Get Magic Lantern For Your Camera

Ok, so this point maybe valid only for Canon users. Magic Lantern is a free firmware add-on that offers enhanced functionality to Canon DSLR cameras. It is an independent program that runs alongside Canon’s parent software. Its open framework enables you to use your Canon cameras in a much better way.

5) Go Out And Shoot In Every Possible Location & Format

So now you have got the best quality lens, DSLR rigs and other add-ons to your camera. So, what’s next? Well, isn’t the answer obvious? Go out and shoot.

You don't become a skilled cinematographer unless you are willing to work your asses off. Shoot in as many formats as possible in as many different locations as you can. Once you start doing this, you will be well and truly on your way to becoming an ace DOP.

6) Know All About Color Correction

Try and learn as many color correction softwares as possible. It will help you make your work look better. There are many amazing softwares out there such as the Adobe Speed Grade and the Magic Bullet, and mastering these could give you the ability to create beautiful images all by yourself.

7) Don’t Be Afraid To Mimic Your Favourite DP’s

Quentin Tarantino once famously said 'I steal from every movie made'. And this maybe true for every technician. There are so many amazing cinematographers out there, including Jeff Cronenweth and Roger Deakins. And it is okay to be influenced and inspired by them and use it in your work.

8) Lighting Is The Key

Great lighting is the key to achieving great visuals. So make sure you light your shots well. One of the best ways to do this is by shooting during magic hour, the period just before sunset when natural light is at its best.

9) Trust Your Instincts

You can’t keep fretting over that one perfect shot. In your quest to be the perfectionist, you are likely to end up wasting valuable time. Sometimes it pays to trust your instincts and go by your gut feel.

10) Google Is The Solution To All Your Questions

Do you aspire to be a cinematographer, but are clueless about how to be one? Do terms like aperture, ISO and white balance confuse you? Well worry not. For there is Google, that can help you in your quest to become a cinematographer. There is no resource, no query to which Google cannot provide you with a solution.

And you can always ping us for any help or advice that you need. While we might not have answers to all your queries, rest assured that we will pull out all stops to get you what you are looking for.

And on that note, do check out Brannigan Carter's YouTube channel that has some amazing videos on filmmaking.


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