Bringing Stills to Life: Shooting video for the first time on your digital camera

A sponsored Post for Olympus

There is something magical about the moving image isn’t there? Throw some music in, add some slow-mo and usually I will shed a little tear over people I don’t even know. It just takes things to the next level and can often make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Having used a digital camera for the past 7 or so years I usually use my camera for just that – snapping moments in time – not even editing them – and capturing the older girls childhoods for print, online and social media. This summer though, I vowed to push and stretch myself even further by turning that dial on my camera to a whole new setting…video. Whilst Rob is my go-to for videos and he sure makes some AMAZING videos that I have been lucky to use professionally and personally, I hate to ask him to make ones for our family. I suppose like the builder with the un-ending renovations at home, or the gardener with lawn out of control at home…you just don’t get around to it.

So this summer I set myself the challenge jumped out of my comfort zone and turned that dial for the very first time. I am NO professional and have ZERO editing skills but I can’t wait to share my little summer video and show you what I learned along the way!

This is the third post in my series with Olympus on the fabulous new OM-D E-M10 Mark III camera I was lucky enough to be given last year. This camera has completely changed the way I take photos, from editing to shooting styles, techniques and now video(!) I cannot tell you what a difference this camera has made to my photography skills.

You can read my other posts on this camera here:

A Queenstown Adventure with Olympus
The Nittty Gritty of the OM-DE-M10 Mark III

We all know the power that can come from moving images. It can take a humble picture and provoke more emotion and thought just by it’s movement (well I think so at least) and especially when edited together to tell a story or share a moment in time.

It can turn this:

Into this:

Growing up, my Dad (being the early adopter of technology that he was) purchased one of the first portable VCRs back in 1982 and over the course of a few years created some amazing memories of our family. They are some of the BEST memories of our childhood…nothing fancy, lots of questioning about focus and making sure they are doing the right thing with filming (“are you focused darl?”) but the most wonderful time capsule of us as kids, of our family dynamics, the culture, interiors, fashion, food/drinks of the time and of course our hilarious bogan Aussie accents.

This summer I wanted to try and capture a little of that. Force myself to learn new things and try to stop the auto mode of taking SO many photos. I turned that dial on my E-M10 III and started shooting.

{What I learned when shooting}
It’s easier than you think!

It was DEFINITELY easier than I thought. Literally turn that dial and hit record. There are 4 modes on this particular camera that you can choose:

  • Standard video (what I shot mine with)
  • 4K (Horizontal display of 4000 pixels compared with normal 1080)
  • Clips (record short clips which can be combined to create a short movie)
  • High-speed (if you want to play back in slow motion)

I shot all of my clips on normal mode (in hindsight I would have liked to have shot in High-speed so I could play back in slow-mo. That magical slow-mo that Rob uses so often in his videos I couldn’t create as when I played it back it in slow-mo it wasn’t smooth).

Practice Makes Perfect

It takes a little practice! My timings were completely out with hitting record and walking. My first few clips I was filming my walking and then hitting stop when I got to the scene I wanted to capture. DER.

Keep them short & sweet

My clips were too long. Rob taught me that to capture a small moment, I needed to count to 10, that was it. I was doing much longer than that, which just meant more cutting when editing.

Save the tricks for the cinematographers

Don’t pan. Or move the camera if you can avoid it. The E-M10III has amazing stability on it so it stops too much movement BUT I got a little happy with the panning. You know what? It’s never smooth and it’s best to keep that kind of action until you are a little better.

People are Important

Capture PEOPLE as well as SCENE. When I was putting my movie together I realised just how little I shot of the kids and of people. Which is kind of the point right?! Next video I will make sure I get much less atmospheric scenes and more of people smiling and laughing (and in HIGH SPEED) so I can slow it down and get those gorgeous natural slow-mo shots that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Think like a photographer

If you see a great photo, I bet it’s a great moving image too. Even if it’s of a flower in a field with great light behind it, it will still look great when you see that flower moving in the breeze with that great light behind it. Make sure you switch between the two modes as often as you can.

Try and edit as you go

Cull the dud clips as you go. I am very particular about trying not to upload 50 million photos because it’s too overwhelming when you go to start a project. Upload as you go and delete straight from the camera if you can (be careful not to delete the good ones I have done that waaaay too many times!). It will just make the back end a little more manageable.

{What I learned when editing}
Which software is best?

There are lots of different programs out there that you can edit on but for me, I had to use what I had on my laptop and for me that was iMovie. There it has sat on my laptop for many years, unused and unloved and I literally had to get Daisy (my 11 year old) to show me how to use it. It’s very user friendly, I learnt as I went with google helping me out when I got stuck. To start with, simple seemed best for me and it might be for you too.

Think about the kind of film you want to make

Well, maybe editing it, it’s too late for this (this could be better served at the very beginning when shooting). But think about whether you want this to have sound, or whether you want it to have a music clip and just memories connected together. For me, that’s what I was after: creating a little movie to remember our summer…little snippets.

My basic process

This is what I did (could be TOTALLY wrong) but when I asked Rob he kind of said loosely that is what he does too.

  1. Imported all the clips (and photos)
  2. Created a rough assembly of the clips I liked and what order they would go in (what story I was trying to create)
  3. Chose my music: I googled “Royalty Free Music” and found a site (Bensound.com) that I could download a song from under the “Creative Commons License” so long as I mentioned this is where I got it from. You must choose Royalty Free Music or otherwise you won’t be able to upload it to YouTube or share. If it’s just for you, then I guess you can use whatever music you like but even Facebook now doesn’t let you upload clips with music in it.
  4. Edit to Music
  5. Cut then cut then cut again (I went from 2 mins to 45 seconds as Rob said that’s how long it had to be). I thought it needed much longer, and in the end, he was right. We register things with our eyes so quickly; we only need a second or sometimes less. CUT!
It’s OK to get frustrated, you’re learning

A timely reminder for me at any time when I am learning something new is feeling OK about NOT FEELING OK. Whenever I am learning I can get frustrated, want to give up but there are so many videos on YouTube, people to ask, make it up as you go. I HATED having to ask Rob for basic help (even Daisy!) but I was proud when I started to work it out.

Stick with the moving image

My movie initially had a whole heap of images thrown in because I thought they “added” to the story telling. In fact, they just looked like crap as they faded in and out and looked like a slide show that comes up on Apple TV. That’s not the point of it so stick with moving images if you can.

Have fun!

I was amazed at how I went from feeling stressed and overwhelmed about it all to actually having FUN. I felt like a Hollywood director on an edit room floor trying to time music to clips (“and cuuuuuuut”) and being able to move things around. It’s so creative…much like when you edit photos in software, get creative and have fun and remember that there are no rules (well not when you are a novice like me!)

In the end what I created is pretty basic. But you know what? I am proud of it. It’s my first go EVER doing this stuff, I have a very harsh critic and judge watching me, but in the end I got exactly what I was after…

All the parts of our time over the farm at Christmas remembered. Quiet, simple times. Where Maggie fell in love with Sue. And swimming. Of HUGE summer storms that terrified Harper. Toilet training Maggie. Swimming. Fishing. Happy kids and dogs, hot summer days and balmy nights under the wisteria drinking wine under a full moon.

So there you have it, my first crack at video and after a few hours it’s done. As smug as I feel whenever I put together a photo book after a holiday, I know that this is done and the memories are there forever. I made a little ordinary, extraordinary and you can too.

I shot everything on my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III which you can check & buy online. This compact camera that takes beautiful images also takes some pretty special 4k video…all in that little pocket rocket!

You can also book in for a “Coffee with Olympus” session being held all around the country. You can register for a free 45-minute small group chat with an Olympus trainer…perfect for trying out something new like video! You can check out and book a time online here.

I’d love to set a challenge to anyone interested to try and shoot a small video (45 seconds or less) capturing a little moment, or scene or anything really. It’s all just practice anyway…I’d love to see you have a go…so start creating and share away!

And for the rest of you guys, what are your obstacles in filming video on your DSLR?

Is it skill?
The editing part?
Having no time and no clue?!
Time to have a crack…if I can…you can too!

Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking I’d love to have a crack at video so your post is perfectly timed! Clearly you have film making in your veins, loved your dad’s vintage vid!

  2. Thank you Beth! I was just saying to my hubby the other day, after watching my childhood family movies, that I need to take more video for our son. This is exactly the info I needed, I will be using all your tips!

    • Good luck – I think it’s one of those things that are so cherished down the track – even if it is tricky to put together at the time. Hope you can make it happen!

  3. Beautiful little video of the farm. I think that I need to make a little ordinary, extraordinary too (whilst the boys are all so little).

  4. Brooke @farmfolkandco says:

    Thanks so much, this was helpful and not daunting! Keeping up with technology and just about everything with the house /kids is hard enough. Super helpful 😃

  5. OMG – the leaf raking! It’s YOU. Nothing has changed. Loved your video too.

  6. Amanda G. says:

    I always love all your photos. I am very visual. But. Videos give it LIFE. I love that.

  7. That was so helpful! Your video was beautiful to watch from start to finish. Thank you for the inspo!

  8. Great post!!

  9. Joadi Sylvestre says:

    Loved it. Can see what you mean about not panning and shorter snippets. Go you!

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