Using Your Camera To Manipulate Size

Size manipulation plays a crucial role in all types of filming, it can be used to make a character appear powerful or weak. One example of size manipulation can be seen in a clip from Jurassic park. If you watch the clip below note how the camera gives a close up of Jeff Goldblums face, shifts onto the footprint (again noticing how the shot zooms right in to give the emphasis on the size of the footprint) then focuses on Jeff Goldblums reaction in the puddle within the footprint. However the really clever use of size manipulation in this shot is the side mirror shot, in this case it is used to show how close the T-rex is to the jeep. This method however can be used for multiple types of shot, depending on your desired outcome of the your shot.

What Is Size Manipulation Used For ?

Making ojects or people appear larger can increase the drama or suspense in a scene. It can be used to in corporate video for comparison to competing products or services. It also helps direct the audience to key points of the characters or objects in the scene.

Making People Look Bigger

Making someone look bigger often portrays them as powerful, it is also used when dialogue as an importance to the scene.

One of the easiest methods to do this is shooting a person from a lower angle, having the camera lower down and panning up slowly for example gives the illusion of great size. By using the lower angle and then zooming in we help create a large than life shot of that person.

There is a balance to this technique, over do it and you lose the effect completely, practice until you get the desired shot when you use this method. Then take note of the equipment you used, heights etc, write this down for reference, you will likely do similar shots in the future and this reference will help speed up the time getting your next right.

Using Wide Angled Lenses

Using wide angled lenses is a useful method for size manipulation. People or objects placed in the foreground using a wide angled lenses always appear larger and more dominating. Another advantage of this technique is the background has more depth which further enhances this method.

The Set

Again this applies to all types of video production. The set can be built to portray the person or object to appear much larger than it actually is. Ceilings can be very low and doorways small. All relative objects such as furniture would also be reduced in size to give a realistic look to the scene. Of course the opposite is true, to make people or objects look small you would simply use high ceilings, large doorways and large furniture and related objects. Back before special effects were used size manipulation in films was alot of work. You may also want to read  The Fountainhead by Ayn Rnd which gives a unique insight into these matters, it’s not directly for film but once you read it you will have a better understanding of size manipulation in general. Works by Ray Harryhausen may also interest you in this subject.

Special Effects

Technology and software have advanced to such a degree we can make the unbelievable believable. Imagine showing a film such as Jurassic World to someone 40 years ago, they would without believe the footage was real when you compare it to the quality of special effects back in those days.

Green screen has made special effects a whole lot easier, indeed visit YouTube and you will see people creating some great special effects from their homes, amazing.

The video below shows how green screen can be used to manipulate object or people and it is pretty cool.

We’ll cover green screen and software size manipulation in other articles, and it’ll need many articles because it is a very diverse arena of video production.

We hope you found this article useful, we’ll be covering alot more on size manipulation and dedicating a post to each method but all the methods mentioned here will certainly allow you to start experimenting with your filming.

We’d like to thank our friends at Bristol Video Production Services for helping us out with some of the information in this article.

Remember if you are a photographer these methods will still apply to you, the methods have exactly the same applications for photography as they do videography and filming.

Do you have something you want to share, we’re always looking for useful video production and filming information so why not drop us a line. We will give you a shout out for your business or blog as a thank you.

Shortcut To Creating The Cinematic Look For Your Film and Video Work

Creating the cinematic style for your films and video

Want to create that cinematic look for your films or video work, here are some great tips for you.

Get the right Composition

If you are new to film and video then you may not even know what composition means, essentially it means the positioning of the camera.
Typically in cinematic shot the camera will be level with the primary object being filmed and it will almost always be 100% level. most camera stands will have a build in levelling system for this purpose.

Colour Balance

Often when filming indoors colours will appear darker than they should, this is a common issue as cameras are not great at contrasting light and dark in the same shot. This is easily remedied by adjusting your white balance until you are happy with what you are seeing.


Lighting plays a major role in creating a cinematic effect, you’re aiming for a soft, bounced light look on the primary object being filmed. This has the effect of brightening the foreground and darkening the background of the area being filmed.


The industry “standard” for the cinematic look is 1\50th. This represents a more realistic perspective of how we ourselves see things in the real world. This however causes brightness issues and the easy way to reduce the brightness in this case is to decrease the ISO to between 100-200.

Saturation and Contrast

If you are shooting in contrasting lighting situations, for example filming a car in an indoor garage with the main door open, you will have the darker interior contrasting with the brighter exterior light coming in. You can play around with your saturation and contrast setting to find the right balance or you can use products like “VisionColor” which assist in making this process alot easier. If you haven’t already looked into products like “VisonColor” it is recommended that you do so.

Depth Of field

This involves adjusting the focus so the primary object (in the foreground) is clear and the background is out of focus. This directs the viewers attention to what you choose to focus on (quite literally). Essentially the object closest to the camera should be perfectly focused and the farthest point in the background being the most out of focus point.

Changing the apertures F-STOP value also helps with depth of field, a lower F-STOP value widens the aperture while a higher value reduce the aperture and gives a great depth of field.


Equipment used on hollywood and big budget films to give that smooth look is expensive. If you are using a professional grade editing software product like After effects of Premiere (warp stabilizer preset)  there are built in stabilizing solutions which will save you alot of money. Of course try to take the footage as smoothly as possible but it’s more a point that very similar effects seen in blockbusters can be emulated within software, to an extent anyway.

These are your basic fundamentals for creating that cinematic look which has a multitude of uses regardless of what you are filming. Why not let us know of some examples you have tested yourself and we’ll be sure to share them and give you credit.


Editing Tips – Part One Of Many !

Editing is an art and you need as many tips as well as real time practice to master it. I have to say one MUST READ book is

In the Blink Of an Eye By Walter Murch – You can see reviews of this book at

Murch takes you on an enjoyable essay of editing, he leaves no stone unturned, continuity, discontinuity , reality and fantasy, digital editing (in the second edition this is covered extensively). Without question if you are a budding filmmaker, buy this book.

Ok onto the tips …

Re-Watch Your Footage Once You Have Done Some Editing

Once you have the footage you are editing in your favourite editing program, get editing after a while stop and watch your footage again, you’re doing this to get a different perspective, to see things from another angle so to speak. It also sparks your creativity, very often you will how the story can progress by further editing, this is the purpose of this tip (credit goes to the book mentioned above for this tip).

Invite People To Watch Your Provisional Edit

Very often we have our own view of how things should look, this however isn’t necessarily the right view for the audience. one great way to get feedback is to let some people view your film, these can be like minded film makers, friends, family, fellow students anyone will do. Here’s why, the more feedback you get, the more creative input you are creating. Very often someone will add a comment which will give you a lightbulb moment in terms of your editing. Again it’s about perspective, it’s not uncommon for blockbuster films to have private pre release screenings for this very purpose, feedback ! If you are doing client work, you can impress your clients at the editing stage by using WIPSTER , Wipster allows your client to post suggested edits in realtime, pretty cool stuff.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is a very powerful editing sequence for both film and corporate and explainer video work. One simple example would be a torch, someone is walking in the dark and cannot see where they are going, they switch the torch on and it lets them see the cliff edge they were walking towards. The cause of switching on the torch had the effect of preventing a nasty accident. For feature films this method is used extensively, watch some of your favourite films and you’ll see this method in action, could it be something that could be put into your final edit to enhance the purpose and direction of you film or video ?





Using a cheaper camera for filming

Do I Really Need An Expensive Camera To Make Films


When filming what can you do to make the shot easier (and require a less expensive camera).

Lighting and location

Choosing the right location for the shot will put less emphasise on the film quality, however, using good lighting set up in the right positions will further enhance the shot, regardless of the camera being used.
By setting up your lighting properly you can control the brightness, colour and direction of light, all these factors combined can only assist a cheaper cameras effectiveness which help bridge the gap between a cheaper camera and an expensive one.

Focus On The Scene

By properly preparing the scene we are not only enhancing the shot itself, we are actually also making it easier to get a great shot regardless of the camera used. If you don’t prepare the scene itself, not even an expensive camera can really make it look good.


Audio is best recorded independently, set up a mic on a boom pole and use an audio recorder, ensuring your levels are set correctly, the audio can be added to the film during the editing process. Poor audio is more noticable than poor video quality.

It’s Not All About The Camera

Your film needs to have a direction, randomly pieced clips put together in your editing suite will look no better regardless of the cost of your equipment.


If you plan your shot, ensuring all the points mentioned above are put into play, lighting, scene set up etc you are putting less emphasis on the camera quality. If your scene is not lit up properly for example the bridge between the cheaper camera and the expensive camera
becomes bigger, of course it will because the expensive camera just cannot do as much to automatically correct poor lighting or scene set up.

You Are Compensating For The Difference In Quality

The above steps are essentially helping compensate the cheaper camera to produce better results, a cheaper camera will not take too kindly to poor lighting, nor should it. If you look at the steps above, they are actually steps you need to be carrying out anyway.
The most important thing above filmmaking is making films, with whatever you can use at the time. In fact using a cheaper camera to start with is very likely to get you into some good habits such as ensuring your lighting is correct for the scene and the scene is well organised.

So get going and make some films !

Do You need to go to film school

Do You Need To Go To Film School

How To Learn Filmmaking Without Going to College or University

Getting a formal education as advantages, you will typically get a systematic process for filming, a regime if you will, but sometimes it’s beneficial to teach yourself, there are plenty sources to this, youtube being a very big one.
So let’s look into how you would teach yourself film making.

Firstly you need to decide what type of filmmaking appeals to you, documentary, corporate or cinematic and television. Afterall you don’t want to focus on multiple film styles, start with the style of filming you feel an affinity for, and that’s important, learning something you love is much easier than learning something you don’t enjoy.
The one big advantage you have is time to make films, an education may help you formalize your filming, both theory and practice but nothing is a substitute for actual practicing by filming, ask any successful filmmaker and there is a very likelihood they filmed at every opportunity. You need an understanding of concepts appropriate to the style of filming you wish to pursue.
These concepts of course can be manipulated to achieve your desired result,but they will help you organize your filming.

It’s About Contacts

So how do you get the opportunities to film, good question, contacts. Contacts can be a wide array of people, typically though they will have the same enthusiasm for filming as you, they will be people who want the type of filming you are interested and people who are interested in helping you learn. You cannot network enough, it is all about putting yourself out there and being known by your potential market. You will need to work for free initially to build up a portfolio, this is normal and gives you precious filming time in a real environment, you will quickly learn any pitfalls and how to deal with them. One tip is not to offer your services using the word “free”, instead simply say you are willing to invest your time so it’s of mutual benefit. While you are doing this you want to try and get some work with a film company in the niche you want to work in, you can call some local film companies, this isn’t as easy as it once was, what with all the new health and safety laws, alot companies refrain from this, typically they will be required to employ you for insurance purposes. Even when you doing free work, it’s recommended you take out insurance and this likely require you to start a business in order to get the right insurance, which would be public liability insurance, you’ll also want to insure your equipment as well. As you will likely make a lose, afterall initially you will be offering your services to build up your experience and portfolio, this route may have the benefits of being able to claim back certain costs.
There are many filmmaking communities, and while it’s great to get an awareness of all filmmaking, focus primarily on the filming niche you have chosen, the people you interact with there will be alot more useful to you, and you to them, these communities may well be the source of your experience, especially if someone decides to take you under their wing and mentor you. Don’t forget when you offering your services to build your portfolio to ask if they know any other companies or people who may be interested in using your service, and, providing everything works out well, ALWAYS ask for a testimonial, you want as much out of your free work as possible.

As an example if you’re interest is shooting music videos, there is a high chance there is a venue nearby who regularly have live events, it’s doubtful they would turn the down the opportunity to have their venue filmed for free and the bands will likely jump at the chance of getting footage for their website and to share on social platforms, this is one example, but helps you understand how to think and creating a win win situation for everyone involved. You also never know who is in the audience and sees your footage, so remember to always leave a couple of business cards with the manager of the venue and the bands and acts themselves.

What Does The Audience Expect ?

This is a double edged question, depending on the type of filming you do. If you are making a short film, you can clearly mislead the audience until the end of your film, if you are filming a documentary of corporate video, the audience expects to see certain things, in the case of a corporate video this may be seeing the product of service in use, in a documentary, it may be seeing proof to back up a story or investigation. It is all relative the filming topic, for factual based filming you want to demonstrate the facts clearly, you can have a background story to which all these facts are leading to, an expose if you will. Understanding the target audience is key to a successful film of any kind, in Hollywood it is what makes or breaks a film.
If you watch a trailer for a new blockbuster, do they show you the boring scenes where nothing is happening, of course not, they usually show you alot of the highlights of the film to entice you to go see it, if you were making a corporate video, you would not go far wrong using a similar format for your filming of the product or service. Spend time researching the target audience, it will only help enhance your final product.

Be Inspired

Inspiration can drive you to great things, and it takes many forms, most importantly it allows your creativity to shine through, if you are inspired so is your thinking. Inspiration is all around us, the things people do, natural beauty, a photograph capturing an emotional expression,a song, a kiss, we can be inspired by alot of things, make it a habit to be inspired everyday and when you feel expired, learn to put that inspiration into your filming because it will show.

There Is No Substitute For Experience

There is one thing you can only get by doing something and that something is experience. No course can teach experience, you have to teach it and learn it to yourself. However you learn , you only improve by the experience of doing it, this applies to anything you do. This doesn’t mean a filmmaker with 20 years experience is better than a filmmaker with 5 years experience, because it is how someone learns from their experiences that shapes their skillset. Many people repeat the same experiences throughout their lives and never really move forward, they gain knowledge, but do not truly learn from their experiences and how to improve on them.
By going out and starting your filming you are taking your first steps to experience, to becoming what you want to be but always be mindful of your objective, look at your experiences objectively, what could be improved on, what would you do differently, it’s good to question your filming experiences within yourself, reflection if you will, but reflect objectively.
So learning filmmaking informally is perfectly possible, both have their pros and cons and we will look further into the subject in future posts, but do not let the lack of formal education in filmmaking hinder you in anyway.