How to Film Yourself | Rubidium Wu | Skillshare

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How to Film Yourself

teacher avatar Rubidium Wu

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      1. Introduction to Filming yourself


    • 2.

      2. Exposure and brightness


    • 3.

      3. Camera and Lenses


    • 4.

      4. Lighting and Background


    • 5.

      5. Bringing it all together


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About This Class

No matter if  it's a Zoom meeting, an actor's self tape or for your own YouTube channel, putting yourself on camera isn't an easy skill to master, but it is one that makes a huge difference to how the world sees you.

In this course we'll look at how to understand camera placement, exposure, lighting and all the other factors that go into making a great video of yourself presenting what you know.

Meet Your Teacher

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Rubidium Wu


Rubidium has directed and produced numerous projects over 20 years in the film industry. His 2013 Silent City post-apocalyptic web series gained over a million views and went viral on youtube.

His first feature, the thriller Brooklyn Tide, sold to Amazon Prime and recouped its budget with 2 weeks. He continues to publish videos on film techniques through the Crimson Engine youtube channel.

With a strong technical background, he possess a firm understanding of both the history of film and the technologies that continue to transform it. 

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Level: Intermediate

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1. 1. Introduction to Filming yourself: whether you're a professional that needs to look good for a zoom meeting and actor doing a self table edition, a YouTuber who wants to increase their production values or if you just want to look credible at your next deposition. Looking good on camera when you're also the camera person is something that all of us can get better at. It is a surprisingly difficult skill, since most people are so focused on what they have to say and how they want to say it, that the camera sittings and lighting go by the wayside. And that's a pity, because just with a basic understanding of some camera and lighting principles, everyone can look better on camera. I'm a filmic out with 20 years experience, but I didn't loon about self taping until I started a YouTube channel three years ago. Since then, I've done 300 plus videos and explored almost every asset of putting yourself on camera. It no longer holds any fear for me because I know what's involved and what I can and can't control. By the time you're done with this course, you'll be more confident on camera. Your videos will look better and Most importantly, you'll enjoy making them. You won't have any anxiety or uncertainly about filming yourself. We're gonna look at the elements of a good image, including exposure, framing, focus, separation and color balance. Let's start with exposure. 2. 2. Exposure and brightness: exposure or how bright and dark the different elements of your image are is the first thing that people notice. If your face is too bright, it will wash out your skin and remove distinguishing features that make you you too dark and the viewer won't be able to make you out. This is away form. It represents rightto left. The areas of the image and top to bottom have brought their. You should aim to put your skin tone somewhere between 40 and 70%. On this way, form the dark parts of your skin at around 40 or 50 and the bright pots at 60 to 70. You see, if I move around, you can see the face moving within the way. Fall any lower than 40% and your face will start to fade into the background any brighter than 70% and will lose detail and saturation. This is known as blowing out, and it's not a good look if you're gonna color, grade your image and post. You do have some wiggle room, but you still want to get it as close as possible in the camera. 3. 3. Camera and Lenses: regardless of the lens you choose, and we'll talk about that later. You want the camera to be close enough that your face and body Philip a significant amount of the screen. Think of the screen as real estate and make every pixel count. There's a common design principle called the rule of thirds. You divide the screen up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. This is his older zat itself, but it relates to framing the camera. Inst If I as placing the areas off interest at these intersections, make for nice balanced compositions or if you're shooting straight on placing your eyes on the top. Most line. A common mistake is to put your head in the center of the frame. But that leaves all this dead space. That's not telling anyone anything. You want some headroom, but never too much. More than a hand is usually too much unless there's something to see up there. Camera height is also something people struggle with. Tilting a camera makes the feature closer to the camera appear bigger through for shortening. So if the camera is too high tilted down, your forehead is gonna appear bigger. If it's too low. tilted up your chin is gonna get large. This is sometimes used in filmmaking to correct people's faces and make them look more symmetrical. And you can experiment with this if you want. If you're camera is a set height, you can tilt your chin down. Align the axis of your face with the sensor, but this can give you a double chin. It's best to stick with a level camera and a level face that's going to give you the most cemetery possible. If you're shooting on an iPhone or other fixed lens camera, you don't have a lot of options when it comes to lenses. But you should watch this regardless, because understanding what lenses due to a perception of space is critical and getting a good image. The wider the lens, meaning these smaller the number of millimeters the mortar camera sees. That's because it's bending light. Now that sounds very sci fi, but that's really what leads us to think of a fish eye lens in a hotel door. It would be the equivalent of a 10 or even eight millimeter lens on a deer salah. It takes the 180 degrees in front of you and squeeze it down to a small hole. It does not very nice things to a face, elongates the nose and pushes three years back at 200 millimeter. Lens, on the other hand, compresses space. They used to say that the camera adds £10 because on talk shows another live broadcasts. They used very long lenses like this 525 millimeter so that multiple cameras can old get the same shot at the same time and not get in each other's way. If you're right in front of the camera, you wanna lends with as little distortion. It's possible, and this is gonna be a 35 to 50 millimeter lens on most cameras or a 50 mil to 70 millimeter lens on a full friend sensor. If you want a mid shot, then you just go down again. So 24 millimeter on a typical Super 35 camera or 35 millimeter on a full frame. If you go wild and then this you're gonna get some distortion, which may be fine. One of the main reasons that cinema cameras and DS lahz look better than cell phones or Webcams is shallow depth of field. This is a fancy way of saying that while you're in focus, the background can be out of focus. Why does this help? Because the screen is a two dimensional object. While life is three dimensional, it has depth in our This is called object and ground, separating their subject off your work from the context. Small sense of cameras such as iPhones and camcorders have real trouble with this, and they have to resort to post processing to give the illusion of depth. Zoom does something similar by mosque ing out your background, replacing it with something else, But it's pretty clunky, a much better way. And the way that cinematographers on movie sets do it. He's to use a very wide open lanes, lends depth is expressed as the f stop. The lower the number, the wider, the aperture and the shallow of the depth of field to shallow, and your nose will be in focus while your eyes out. What f stop should you shoot for? It depends on lots of factors like the distance between you and the camera and the distance between yourself and the background that you want to blow out. If you're shooting an airplane hangar and you've got 200 feet behind you, then if 11 might be great, but in a normal size room if 28 F four should give you enough blow to the background while not making your focus depth too small. I have a small converted garage studio, so I'm sure you miss that F two. Unless you have something to blur, nothing's gonna blow If you just have a plain white wall, It doesn't matter if it's blurry or not. This is the reason that some people, myself included, add small points of light through Christmas lights or other light sources usually led that are able to blow out The technical camera. Term is Boca from the Japanese fuzzy, and it serves to make your background look more interesting and also separate yourself from your background. Another great way to achieve separation is with color Color. Theory says that warm colors come towards the camera while cool colors received. Having a blue or call background means that it appears more distant and the warmer skin tones come towards the camera, creating more separation. Now that we understand the theory behind separation, let's look at lighting and how to light the face to get the best exposure and bring that into a theory 4. 4. Lighting and Background: So now that we've talked about the elements of a good image and about exposure, let's talk about lighting. The basic style that has become the standard in both film and television is called three point lighting. That doesn't always mean that you use three lights. You can do three point lighting with one line, or you can do three. Put lining with 10 lights. The key terms here are key back and Phil. Let's look at each of them. In turn, the key light is out mainline. We want this close enough and bright enough to give our face 50 to 60% on the way form. Not too dark and not too bright. If the light is too much on access, meaning it's in line with the camera, it will flatten the face and not show your features. It comes back again to creating depth on a two dimensional canvas. You want the light a little off axis between 20 and 45 degrees so that there is a play of light and shadow on your face, and then we can see a real person and not just eyes and a mouth rule the shadows to be dark but not too dark that the party your face that's in shadows lost deep shadows amore home in a film noir of the forties. So what we need to do is use another light. The fill light to control the contrast to the shadows Fill. It can be a separate light, or it could be something like a reflection that bounces the key light back at you. If you make the fill too strong, you'll even out the face totally again. And we're back where we started within on Access key like, ideally, you want the shadows to be you. One stopped less than the key, so that's one less bomb. The wakeful. Remember back in the separation chapter, where we talked about lying the background separate from you, the subject, You may need to play something in between the key light in the background so that the main light isn't hitting the background as well. This can be a black card or curtain. You can also use lighting modifiers in the cinematography world, these noticed flags. It means something that goes around July and allows you to direct it. This could be a dome or a grid, which will allow you to control the light and focus it where you want it and not where you don't want. The last element of lighting to consider is back light, which is also known as hair light rim, light or scratch. It is a light behind you shining forwards at you. What this does is give you a halo effect and separate you further from the background. Usually put the light directly behind you, but at an angle shining down to you above is the most popular angle, but you can also use behind lair for behind right. Sometimes people use ALS three back lights. There's a famous Hollywood cinematographer. Call Robert Richardson, who works with Quentin Tarantino and other famous directors, and he's known for using overwhelming backlog as the only light in the scene that then reflects to become the key and filling. Let's talk about light softness. It's on a big mystery that when you shine a light, you create shadows. The brighter, the light, the DACA, the shadows. Small lights create hard shadows. These create a second set of lines that compete with the natural lines, your face and don't always look flattering. The solution to this is to use large lights, which creates soft bloodlines, which look a lot better. What is a large light? Well, sizes, of course, relative. It's a combination off the physical size of the light and the distance off the light from the subject. Here the sun is very large. Let's will spread. It is a very long way away, so actually gives hot, unflattering light unless you use natural diffusion. Like Klatz. The photograph, extended off a soft light, is one that's the same size as the object that you're shooting that same distance away. So my head and shoulders are roughly two by two foot area. I'm using a two by two foot light two feet away from me as my key line. Now, this is great if you could do it. But you can also get away with a one by one foot light two feet away, or any combination thereof for good news is that you only really need that key light to be soft. The feel and back lights can be as hard as you need them to be to get the exposure that you want. You also don't need a physically large like to be a big like you can always bounce a small light into a large object or shoot it through a frame to make it large. In this case, this is an umbrella that's turning a small light into a bigger line, and the umbrella is the new source. Bance lights are the least controllable because the light tends to bounce everywhere, followed by a diffused lights and with direct lights. Being the most controllable you know, is he. I have the key light at a 45 degree angle to the side and 45 degrees above. If you have a fill light, you probably want to place it at a complimentary angle 45 degrees to the other side. You can go with totally sidelight, but that's more comedy films and isn't actually the most flattering. You could place the light above camera, and they have the Phil let a blow camera. That's another common method. This is how most talk shows a lit. But most people of the home will find it challenging to get a lot above camera without making the light stand or C stand appear in the frame, you have to boom. The light's out 45 degrees to the side and 45 degrees above gives you something called Rembrandt lighting, where both eyes a lit by the key line, and there's a small trying of light on the far side cheek. You can't really go wrong. 5. 5. Bringing it all together: So now you have discussed all these different theories and always defer techniques. How do you bring it all together? I found that it helps to work on one element of time. While you're developing your techniques, get your frame and your distance right and then focus on exposure. It's also great to document your work. Stay so you're not starting from scratch each time I put tape on the floor, where the camera and the seat and the lighter. But you can also use a tape measure if you're moving around. I also recommend creating a small feedback loop where you shoot something just a couple seconds, then take it to your computer. Graded. Did it do what you're going to do with it to see if it's conforming to what you want and it's not. Take the card out of the computer upward back in the camera, make an adjustment and try again. He can be really hard to judge what you're doing off the monitor while you're shooting. Filming yourself is at the end of the day and evolution as you get better at it, you develop sensitivity to things that you wouldn't have even seen before and you adapt to trends or make your own. If I look back at my first videos on YouTube, they do look Lana Konkey. But they also have a appeal, all of their own, for where I was at my career. As a cinematographer, you don't need to be perfect. You just need to be engaged, and you may find that as you work on this, you get more and more interested in the challenge of film yourself and develop your own style. Thank you very much for taking this course on lighting yourself and filming yourself. Please leave your questions below, and I'll do my best to help you develop your own style. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.