5 Tips For Getting Creative With Video

Humans are all naturally creative. Trouble is that we just forget how to be creative and it becomes an unfamiliar feeling. So here are five tips that will help you to rediscover creative energy when planning a video project.

Be a “yes” person

When an idea pops into mind, when you see inspiration, when a colleague comes out with his outlandish idea for how to promote the company to viral stardom - look at it with a “yes” mindset. That means anything is possible, we only need to figure out how.

A “no” mindset will go straight to reasons why it won’t work, without letting the idea develop. “We can’t afford that”. “That’ll take too long”. “Our team is too small”, “We don’t have the right equipment”, “I don’t know if that is a sensible way to spend our time and money”.

I believe any idea can be the catalyst that leads to the next idea. What happens when you halt those initial ideas or pieces of inspiration? You never get to start developing them into something tangible, to make them a reality. You’re forever at square one.

Plus, one seemingly unrealistic, ridiculous idea can spark a second, less ridiculous idea. And that second idea can spark the third and fourth ideas, which would never have existed without the first.

If you say “yes” through this process, you’ll realise that with a great idea and plan, it’s easy to find solutions to logistical or financial barriers because you’re inspired and motivated to find a way.

Jump straight in

Go on, just pick up a camera (your phone will do for now) and go for it.

Us humans are great at improvising, and adapting to what’s happening around us. Just like at a party - you can have conversations that were not planned, you can meet new people you never knew existed until arriving.

Sometimes we just need to put ourselves in a situation so that our brains can figure out what to do.

And of course, you can use this process to develop your ideas, then come back with a good script in your hand and film it all for real.

Define a visual style

The visuals are usually secondary to the content of the video - but defining the look can give you a clear pathway on which to travel.

It might mean everything is filmed in timelapse - now you have to figure out how to show your story incorporating the passing of time.

It might mean each segment is filmed with a forward camera movement - We might be moving through rooms, following a hand holding a key and arriving at the door to the character’s new house that they finally were able to buy.

How about lighting - let’s make every shot lit by candles. and create a script, and music that fits a theme of staying in a cabin in the mountains.

Create restrictions

With all this talk about not blocking ideas, why create restrictions?

Because restrictions force you to solve problems, and squeeze new ideas to the surface. Here’s an example:

Project:
Tour of a new factory. Show outside the front of the building and inside the factory
Restriction:
Film the entire video in one shot
Problem:
We need to film in two different, disconnected locations
Solution:
Presenter speaks intro. Then picks up the camera and walks with it into the factory. Second staff member walks in with new tripod, presenter places camera on tripod and continues through the script.
OR
Presenter speaks intro, then camera pans to reveal that it was mounted in back of an open-tray truck all along. Presenter climbs into the truck. Truck drives to location #2. Presenter gets out. Forklift picks up camera (on a pallet), places it down for presenter to continue.

What would have been made if we could film the two locations separately? Well, any number of creative ideas could come about. Point is, with the restriction of filming all in one shot, we came up with new ideas that didn’t exist before.

Get out of your head and into your body

When I’m feeling lost in my creativity, I try to do at least one significant thing to change my physical state. Our mind and body are not separate, they are one thing. To. So to get the gears turning, I’ll go to another room. I’ll shift my desk from sitting to standing (I have a cool sit - stand desk). I’ll change my clothes, go outside, put ideas on paper and draw a storyboard with pencil instead of being at the same computer where I default to doing work.

Go to a coffee shop, drink a new flavour of tea, get a haircut, go hug a tree. Shift your physical state and your mental state will shift too.


I hope these tips help you next time you’re stuck at your desk, wondering where you left your creativity.

Building Relationships - Youth Filmmaking Workshop

As part of a collaboration between BOP Film, Baycourt, and the International Youth Silent Film Festival, we ran a series of filmmaking workshops in Tauranga and Whakatane. The students spent three days learning about writing, directing, planning, shooting, editing, acting, makeup & SFX, and stunts.

This is Building Relationships, the film we made in July as part of the Tauranga workshop.

 

Shot in one day, with myself shooting one of the cameras and students on another.

Getting stuck in and just doing it is my favourite way to make films. Focus on having a good time doing it and work with what you have, you’ll learn a ton and have something to look back on.

Don’t worry it was totally safe ;)

Barrow Cam small.jpg

On The Road - New Zealand, GH4, Filmconvert

Warning: This post is me being a film nerd, but I believe in finishing what I start, so this video needed to go somewhere ;)

Here's another compilation from a recent road trip up to visit family. We stopped off in chilly Matamata to see a friend's market stall, then spent an absurd amount of money at Tart Bakery (it's not just any regular kiwi bakery).

I didn't have any real plan for taking this footage so I made a demo of one of my favourite tools, Filmconvert. It gives you a straight up nice looking image with little effort - but still gives a lot of control. You can dial in the colour and the contrast separately, so fine tuning a look is really easy.

And their clever grain generation is... clever. It generates it true to the film stock and is also responsive to the actual footage, as opposed to just an overlay. So the grain will vary dependent on the luminance and colour underneath. Now we don’t need to shoot on expensive 35mm cinema film, just use this!

My process is to put the Filmconvert plugin in an adjustment layer, and then tweak each individual shot BEFORE the plugin. And those tweaks are usually limited to the lift/gamma/gain controls, and occasionally a white balance adjustment when it's really needed. I don't like to fuss around with it too much. Most of the time the imperfection is where the gold is found. Or where the magic lives. I'm not great with metaphors.

One day I'll get a smaller gimbal and shoot something like this again. But regardless I'm a big fan of the handheld look. Check out Y Tu Mamá También where I don't think they used a tripod even once and that's a damn fine piece of cinema.

 

 

 

Armageddon with a classic camera, the GH4

My plans to spend another Saturday doing client work and tidying up my edit drive were thwarted by a trip to Armageddon with friends (and wanting to spend time with my fabulous girlfriend on our day off). So since I'm not really into the anime/manga/cosplay scene I thought I could make something of it. Actually I do like gaming but I'm patiently waiting for the next Red Dead game.

That morning I woke up to a notification from Peter McKinnon (famous Youtuber, look him up, he's great) and got inspired to create something that kinda-sorta-halfway emulates his as well as other Youtuber's styles.

So I shot what I saw, thought about how I would piece things together, and didn't allow myself any second takes*

*That's a lie, but the intention was there, most of this is all first takes. I pretty much always subscribe to having a second option/take, but it's a good challenge to think ahead and get usable stuff in one attempt.

Then I took it home and challenged myself to smash out an edit on the same day. And to use enough cool transitions to make you dizzy. With my regular video production work there's not often a place for a spin into a whip pan into an RGB split crash zoom, so it's good to get experience timing them well, for when the opportunity shows up.

Plus I remembered this hilarious quote from one my of favourite shows:

“Guy at the station says he’s never seen so many star wipes in a row. It’s never been done.”
-James McGill, Better Call Saul

Shot on my trusty Panasonic GH4 in CineD profile with -5 Sharpness and -5 NR

12-35mm f2.8 lens

Rigged on my hands

Edited and Graded in Adobe Premiere with Lumetri and Filmconvert

Hey look, I even took a screenshot of my settings if you want to have a go:

ArmageddonFCSettings.PNG