If you want to shoot better slow motion footage, you might want to consider these dos and don’ts.
When’s the last time you watched a film or video that didn’t have at least a few seconds of slow motion footage? It’s probably been a while (or never), right? Its ubiquity is partly due to how it can instantly give shots a lot of style without much effort, but despite the relative ease of capturing slow-mo, it’s actually even easier to fudge it up. In this video from Filmora, learn about five dos and don’ts of slow motion filmmaking that will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes.
The first thing new filmmakers learn about slow motion filmmaking usually relates to frame rate: the higher your frame rate, the slower your footage will be. So, they go out, set their frame rate to 60 or 120 (or higher), and are surprised when they find lots of issues with their footage, like underexposure and flickering. These issues are both incredibly common and incredibly avoidable if you know a few things about slow motion. Here are the tips mentioned in the video:
- Adjust your shutter speed: Want to avoid weird artifacts and that weird ghosting effect you get when you shoot slow-mo? Then you’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is twice the inverse of your frame rate. So, if you’re shooting at 60 fps, set your shutter speed at 1/120 (or whatever’s closest), and if you’re shooting at 120 fps, set your shutter speed aaaatttt…1/140 (or whatever’s closest). That’s right!
- Use enough light: Now that your shutter speed is a lot faster, less light is going to hit your camera sensor. This means darker images. In order to ensure you can get a proper exposure, make sure you provide enough light for your scene.
- Be aware of flickering: Okay, you’ve got some lights to properly expose, but…what kinds of lights do you have? Some will appear to “flicker” in playback, a phenomenon known as banding, but there are plenty of flicker-free light sources out there that you can use, or you can calculate your light source’s pulse frequency and camera settings to make sure you won’t produce that ugly strobe effect.
- Overcranking: When it comes to slow motion, the slower the footage the better, right? Well, not always. Each frame rate setting produces its own unique look, from 24 fps to 1000 fps and beyond. Even if your camera can capture 240 fps, it may 1.) have a lower resolution, and 2.) have an aesthetic that doesn’t work as well as, say, 120 fps does for your project.
- Overusing slow-mo: Everybody and their judgy Aunt Debbie loves slow-mo, but just like judgy Aunt Debbie, slow-mo is best when it makes an appearance occasionally. If you think you might be overusing it, ask yourself why you think the shot should be in slow-mo, what effect it’ll have on your audience, and whether or not it’s necessary to the story.
- Use a stabilizer: Slow motion is a great way to hide unsteady footage, but if you did your due diligence and used a stabilizer, not only are you an overachiever but your footage is going to look milky silky smooth.
- Use music: Footage captured in slow motion either doesn’t record audio or records distorted and unusable audio. So, be prepared to have some sweet tracks on deck to fill the silence.
- Testing: Before you go out and actually capture your slow motion shots, you might want to do a few tests first. Make sure your lighting is sufficient, that there isn’t any banding, and, of course, that your focus is on point.
- Speed ramping: To add a little flair to your edit, you can try a *cough* tragically overused *cough* editing technique called “speed ramping,” in which the speed of your footage changes between different frame rates. Typically, editors will have a clip play at 24 fps and then slow it down to 120 or 240 fps during a big moment, like somebody pulling off a sweet kickflip or something. (Peter McKinnon has a great tutorial on how to pull off speed ramping.)
- Break the rules: You’re the boss of your own life and if you want to throw away all of these tips and try new things and be a friggin’ rockstar, then you do it, my love! Please experiment with slow-mo and discover stuff so the rest of us can play around with a cool new effect.