Video tips

Still learning and growing in the area of cinematography, but hopefully I can share a little insight




I choose my music, from Musicbed, before I begin to film my video. I've discovered that keeping my music in mind while filming helps me to cater my video to the soundtrack. I generally choose music which is between 1 1/2 to 4 minutes in length, although you can always edit it to make it longer or shorter. I also choose music with both loud and soft, or fast and slow, contrasts. The Musicbed filters I usually choose are Cinematic, Uplifting, and Fast.


When editing your video, place each new video segment or sequence on the downbeat or upbeat of the music. Keeping to a rhythm will help your viewers anticipate the flow of your video.


Tip: Download your music files in .wav format for the clearest sound.




Adding sound effects to a video really helps engage your audience. It makes them feel like they're there with you and brings your story to life. I try to record and insert my own sound effects as much as possible. When I need to download them, I use ZapSplat.


It doesn't really matter what you use to record your video. I've seen some great YouTube videos created on a smartphone! Record wide/panoramic shots, medium distances and close-ups for some variety.  Ensure there's movement in each scene, either from your camera or within the scene itself. Some cinematic camera movements include panning left or right, up or down, zooming in or out, or circling around your subject. A cinematic camera position for filming people is positioning the camera at your waist or lower, such as down at ground level.

I currently record my videos at 4K resolution (approximately 3840 x 2160 pixels), 60 frames per second (fps). You can also record at 8K or 120 fps if you have equipment capable of doing so. Publish your video at 24 or 30 fps. This allows you to slow down your footage making it appear more cinematic.

Create variation in your footage such as using timelapse or hyperlapse, high and low energy scenes, different angles, etc. When in motion, you can follow your subject, lead in front of them, move parallel along side them, or even show them moving from above or below. And keep your camera as steady as possible to ensure your footage is nice and smooth. Jakob Owens has some great tips on keeping your camera steady with his "Best Travel Filmmaking Camera Tricks!"

There are also many in-camera transitions you can record, such as whipping your camera quickly in and out of each scene. I won't cover them all on here, by My Mentors list on my YouTube channel will direct you to some great tips, such as Jeven Dovey's "In Camera Video TRANSITIONS that are EASY."

All of my Photo tips also apply to cinematography. Composing and framing your video is key!


For me, content is king! You can have all of the fancy cinematic transitions and great music, but if your actual footage is nothing special your story will be boring.

50% of your video should include people. You could tell a narrative of a main character. Show sensory experiences like touching, tasting, smelling, etc. Get close to the action. Show people's reactions to objects and experiences. Get your characters to tell the story. Dance, laugh, smile!

I like to share our experiences along time line, or in the general order we experience them. It makes it easier to edit in post production, and I feel it's less confusing for the viewer. You need a beginning, middle, and end to your story. Show context. How did you get from one place to another? By plane, car, hiking? Link your video segments together by showing the modes of transit between them.


I use Adobe Premier Pro for my video editing, and Adobe After Effects for titles and some of the more complex transitions. Each video segment should be about 2 to 5 seconds in length, and you'll want to mix them up by short and long segments into a storytelling sequence. Choose the best few seconds of each video segment you've recorded. Consider the lighting, steadiness of the camera, your subject, etc.

Many professional cinematographers use LUTs (look up tables) to color grade their videos. The choice is up to you. I currently use some basic presets of saturation, contrast, and a vignette which helps you focus on the center of the frame.


Transitions are the parts in between video segments which link them together. You don't need a transition between each and every segment. I usually reserve my best video transitions for matching the music transitions. There are so many transitions you could use, from crossfades to lens flares to gradient wipes. I can't cover them all here, but My Mentors on my YouTube channel cover many of them. Parker Walbeck, for example, has "TOP 8 "Smooth" Seamless Transitions" which is a good overview.