How Do You Camera? Video Camera Basics

Marshall Rimmer, Filmmaker

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17 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Hello!

    • 2. Camera Options

    • 3. Resolution & Frame Rate

    • 4. Resolution History (advanced)

    • 5. White Balance

    • 6. Shutter Speed

    • 7. Aperture

    • 8. ISO / Gain

    • 9. Optimal ISO (advanced)

    • 10. Exposure Practice

    • 11. Picture Style

    • 12. Lenses & Filters

    • 13. Maximum Aperture (advanced)

    • 14. Framing

    • 15. Design

    • 16. Movement & Ancillary Equipment

    • 17. Thank You!

11 students are watching this class

Project Description

Before You Begin...

Welcome to my class! I hope you will learn many film tips that will stick with you throughout your filmmaking career, whether you are an aspiring professional or active hobbyist.

If you're part of Skillshare's Membership program, you can sign up for my other classes completely free of charge! I recommend going ahead and doing that now, even if you're not planning on immediately jumping into the other courses. That way, if you ever have questions about other topics, you will be able to access these classes more quickly. It will take two seconds and is completely free!

Once you've signed up for the other courses go ahead and continue your work on this unit.

If you are still lacking any camera equipment for this class, here are some helpful links!

Video production is a very collaborative process. Use Fiverr to work with musicians, photoshop artists, voice over talent, and other creatives for only $5 per gig.

Consumer Cameras

Sony A6000
Sony A6300
​Sony A6500 
Nikon D3500
​Nikon D3400
Canon Rebel T6

Professional Cameras & Lenses

Sony A7s iii
Sony A7s ii
Panasonic GH5
Canon 5D iv
Sony to Canon Lens Adapter
​Canon 28-70mm Lens
Canon 70-200mm Lens

And you're always going to need an SD Card (slow motion may require a high write speed like this one)

Camera Options

  1. Secure a Camera

    If you have yet to purchase or rent a camera, mull over the camera option resource and pick a camera which fits your budget & intentions.

  2. Research your Camera

    Research your camera.  Read up on the manufacturer's website as well as independent reviews to understand its pros and cons.

Resolution and Frame Rate

  1. Pick a Frame-Rate & Resolution

    Decide the frame rate and resolution in which you would like to film for the duration of this class.

    I recommend 1080HD at 24 fps.

White Balance

  1. White Balance Test Footage

    At proper color temperature, film something outdoors and something indoors.

Shutter Speed

  1. Shutter Speed Test Footage

    At proper exposure, film a person performing any type of action at a shutter speed of 50, 60, 200, and 2000 (or your camera's maximum).


  1. Discover each of your lens' maximum aperture

    Discover each of your lens' maximum aperture. Note that zoom lenses may have different maximum apertures at different focal lengths.

  2. Aperture Test Footage

    At proper exposure, film a close-up of a person or object at your lens' maximum aperture, 5.6, 8, and 22.

ISO / Gain

  1. Research your camera's ISOs

    Research your camera's ISOs and corresponding noise levels.

  2. ISO Test Footage

    At proper exposure, film anything at an ISO of 100, 160 (if possible), 400, and your camera's maximum ISO.

Exposure in Practice

  1. Exposure Test Footage

    At proper exposure, film something outside during the day, inside during the day, inside during night, and outside during night. Don't worry if the 'outside during night' footage doesn't turn out well. This is only an exercise, but still try to do your best.

Picture Profile & Additional Firmware

  1. Profile Picture Test Footage

    If possible, film something using the standard profile picture, a neutral profile picture, and a custom profile picture of your choice.

Lenses & Filters

  1. Lens Test Footage

    Film a close-up of a person, once using a wide lens and once using a tight lens.

Framing & Screen Direction

  1. Framing Test Footage

    With proper framing, film both sides of a basic conversation scene.

Utilizing Shapes & Colors

  1. Shapes & Colors Test Footage

    Using the lesson as a guide, shoot footage with shapes & colors in mind.

Movement & Ancillary Equipment

  1. Movement Test Footage

    Mimicking a dolly or jib, film an action that would benefit one of these camera movements. If you have access to an actual dolly, jib, or slider, feel free to use it.


  1. Shoot additional footage for final project

    Revisit units and mimic previous test footage.

  2. Edit together the montage

    Utilize iMovie, Windows Moviemaker, Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere.

  3. Export & Upload the Montage

    Share the link with the rest of the class!

Additional Resources

  • Sample Final Project

    Here is a Lyric Music Video that I created for the band Atomic Tom.  This is very similar to the final project that you're creating in that it is a series of "beauty shots" set to music.

  • Important Files

    Some people have been having troubles with individual links, so here is a ZIP folder with many helpful documents.

    Canon 7D  Manual

    Canon 5D mkII Manual

    Canon 60D Manual

    Canon 500D Manual

    Nikon D3200 Manual

    Common Video Resolutions

    Canon Menu Location

    Most canon DSLRs have a menu option labeled "Live View/Movie func. set." This is where you can change the "Movie rec. size" to the resolution and frame rate of your choice.

    Note that while it is common to refer to 1920x1080 as simply "1080", some Canon cameras refer to it as "1920".

    Kelvin Chart


    Make sure that your camera is in a manual mode and not an automatic one. At the top of Canon cameras, there will be a small wheel with many options. Make sure that either the M or the Video mode are selected (depending on the camera).

    Exposure Tips

    When parts of an image become so bright that they lose definition and become purely white, it is known as overexposure or blown-out.

    The trick is for you to allow your image to be bright and lively without the subject losing definition.

    According to a histogram (where overexposure is 100%), most people expose their main subjects at 70-75% while allowing bright parts of their background to be 90-95% and dark parts to be 10-20%.

    Canon 5D mkII Quirk

    For whatever reason, the 5Dii has a setting that won't allow you to adjust aperture.  On the switch from "off" to "on", make sure that the switch is pushed all the way up, essentially the second "on" option. If you switch this to the middle option, you won't be able to adjust aperture.

    Canon 7D Optimal ISOs

    160, 320, 640, 800, 1250

    Canon ISO Noise Levels (advanced)


    Make sure that your camera is in a manuel mode and not an automatic one. At the top of Canon cameras, there will be a small wheel with many options. Make sure that either the M or the Video mode are selected (depending on the camera).

    Magic Lantern for Canon

    Technicolor CineStyle for Canon

    Marvels Cine Picture Style for Canon

    Additional Info on Canon Picture Profiles

    Flat Picture for Nikon

    Other Picture Style Options

    Canon Recommended Max Aperture

    7D, 60D, 500D

    2.8 for most every shot

    2.2 for close-up beauty insert shots


    5.6 for most every shot

    4.0 for close-up beauty insert shots

    Best Canon Zoom Lens Options

    EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6

    EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

    EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II

    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

    Canon Lens Lineup

  • Pro Canon Zoom Lens Options
  • Crop Factor Tips

    Depending on your cameras sensor size in relation to a full-frame sensor, a crop factor may exist. What this essentially means is that the image you will receive by using a 50mm lens on a Canon 7D may appear similar to an image you would receive by using an 80mm on a Canon 5D.

    Crop Factor Wikipedia Article

    Crop Factor Chart

    Crop Factors

    Canon 7D = 1.6x

    Canon 60D = 1.6x

    Canon 500D = 1.6x

    Variable ND filter for Exteriors

    The King's Speech

    An interesting write-up on the screen direction used in The King's Speech.

    Affordable Jib Option

    Affordable Slider Options

    Keep in mind that most sliders to not include a set of legs.  You will need to purchase either 2 tripods or 2 light stands depending on the model of the slider.

    Free Editing Softwares

    Free Editing Softwares (Windows)