A little while ago I released a birth film of a beautiful friend and fellow birth photographer's birth. It was the first time I had been hired solely for video. In the months preceding the birth I honed my skills with every birth I went to. I think this went in my favor, as the final product gathered an unbelievable response from people across multiple states. It quite frankly, shocked the hell out of me that within 24 hrs of publishing this video it had been shared a couple hundred times and viewed over 11k times. I began to feel extremely nervous that so many people, people that have been doing this so much longer than I could have potentially watched my amateur film. Which in my opinion, has so much room for growth and lots of errors that I only saw later. However, artist are their own worst critics, and I was pleasantly surprised to see such an interest in video in the birth photography groups that frequent. I collected some questions from the group that I created, and decided that I would create a file in the group and a shareable blog post answering them so that maybe I might be able to help some aspiring birth videographers out there.
I am not a pro. I REPEAT, I AM NOT A PRO. I am still very much a beginner with my knowledge of the technical aspect of video, audio and video editing. However, I was and am happy to share my thoughts and things that I do know with you all. That being said, enjoy!
How to do you do both video and stills?
Brezi’s answer: I tend to shoot and get hired primarily for stills only. I have made it a point, however, to grab clips video here and there at every birth. I do this for a couple of reasons. 1: quite honestly, before Monet’s birth, I really wanted to make sure that I went into her birth fully prepared, skill wise. She is the first client to ever hire me for video instead of stills. So every birth I attended before her’s I would make it a point to practice my video skills by doing this. I shot different angles, different scenes, different exposures, all of it. I would do this without my clients really knowing that I was and create a fusion video for them to, again, continue to practice editing and such. This was something that I gifted to them in preparation for my one video client. Anyways, the point being; I would find lulls in the action to grab 5-20 even 30 seconds worth of video clips during labor and just after the birth. I would sometimes if I thought I had enough time, grab some during pushing, and then switch back to stills for the duration of the birth and into the first 15 or so minutes of postpartum. I slowly started getting my bearings, and started getting used to this whole switching back and forth thing, while keeping a steady hand, and I started switching almost immediately after grabbing those crowning/birth/first moments of stills. That way in post of a fusion video I would be able to put it together sort of seamlessly without having much of a break of video footage.
How do you edit your video (Color correct)?
Brezi’s answer: I edit my color and all of my video in Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s $15/mo I believe, at the moment. I use the “lumetri color” correction that comes built in. I do like this, however, it is not amazing. So what I like to do if make sure that my in camera footage is almost perfect before trying to edit. I believe that there is a setting on my camera (Nikon D800, full frame) in which I can change my video mode to neutral, which helps in post. That way when you are color correcting, you will have an easier time adding things to the video, like contrast, saturation, or even editing the white balance. I tend to stay away from editing the white balance and just stick with what my auto WB gives me in camera. I am sure once I get better I will be able to delve into all of that stuff. But for now, I stick with what I know.
How to market video?
Brezi’s answer: I am probably the worst person to ask advice about marketing anything. I honestly don’t know how I made it this far with Google, and Facebook and all the things. However I can say that Facebook is a powerful, powerful tool for marketing visuals, especially video. I would create a very intriguing piece of content, post to your FB biz page, and boost it. Share it, ask others to share too. I want to expand on this idea of calling something “intriguing”. We all love, or at least like to watch our own videos, and see our own posts or read our own thoughts, but other people might not. When you make something to be shared, like a birth video, keep it relatively short. I think 10 minutes for a birth video is a good length for sharing, others may say shorter. I would not go longer than that. People loose interest. Monet’s video was almost 10 mins, and I think that if I didn’t have so many things happening with angles, blurs, the music and clips keeping in sync and all of that, it probably would not have been as intriguing to watch for almost 10 whole minutes. I actually worried that it would be too long and that I would need to shorten in for sharing. Anyways, point being, when creating videos for clients, you must keep in mind also your audience if you intend to share. I think it is a good idea to create a shorter share worthy vide and a longer video for the parents. I know as a parent watching my birth video, I would have probably wanted to see every deleted scene and hear every word that was caught on tape. But FB land…..definitely doesn’t want that.
I take some video at births, but don’t know what I am doing or how to charge for it. Suggestions?
Brezi’s answer: That’s great that you do that! After my practice of taking video at each birth in preparation for my video only client, I continue to grab video at each birth as well. Here are somethings that I think you can do with this footage, and things I have done. I created a Father’s day video, and included some video clips from birth clients that did not pay me to do that. I always ask permission before just doing these things, obviously. Also, I have in the past and plan to continue writing clients personal handwritten thank you cards after the baby is born, and including a simple reminder that I did grab some video footage at their birth and that if in the future they would like to purchase a fusion video slideshow, they can do so. I charge $500 currently for these. Also, if you would like to start practicing editing, take those clips and some images, get yourself a song and start gifting your previous clients some videos. You get more practice, and your clients will most likely share the video, giving you more exposure. They will probably be so over the moon about this unexpected gift, that they will sing your praises to all of their expecting friends.
Doesn’t it take longer to edit?
Brezi’s answer: Yes, and no. It just depends on what you are doing really. I think in general if a birth of stills takes me about 2-3 hrs over all time to complete and send off, a video takes me at least twice that amount. A couple of reasons factor in for me: 1, I have kids, and hardly any time to myself lol. 2 my premiere shuts down on me like every 10 minutes and it drives me insane I could set flame to my computer. 3 I am an artist, and I like things perfect…perfection takes time. The of course it takes time finding music, culling clips (because premiere likes to show me my clips out of order…ARG) and then finally putting it all together, color correcting and applying a stabilization filter to some of them (this is my biggest pain).
So YES, for me it definitely takes longer. However, if you are just starting out and just getting a feel for video editing, you don't need to color correct, and stabilize right away. Cut those out until you get more comfortable with aligning your clips in a sequence that makes sense, and get comfortable with using transitions and making it flow nicely without needing to use every single clip captured while still telling the story.
How do you expose for low light situations? What settings do you sent your camera to?
Brezi’s answer: I read or saw somewhere that it was best to keep video SS between 1/30th and 1/60th of a second to get the most realistic look and motion blur. But I will let this guy explain further : https://vimeo.com/blog/post/frame-rate-vs-shutter-speed-setting-the-record-str
Keeping that in mind I expose accordingly. I like to keep my aperture around 2.4 - 4. However to keep my ISO low to avoid grain, I will go lower. But it is more difficult to grab focus, as you can imagine the wider you open your lens. Really just basic principals apply to video as they do to stills. However, If someone can expand upon this, please feel free to!
I am struggling with camera shake, what can I do to help that?
Brezi’s answer: Purchase yourself a good high quality monopod. I use mine periodically for panning and really still shots when mama is in labor. However I tend to leave it, and hand shoot these days. I find I have more control when I do this, but I do loose some quality due to hand and body shakiness that comes along with hand holding a camera. Some tips that might help you if you don’t have a monopod: use your neck strap and shorten it so you can hold it taut and act as your body is the monopod. I used to do this, and it works fairly well. You can also use a stabilizer in post processing while editing. In premiere pro, it’s called “Warp Stabilizer”. It usually does the trick, however there are some shots where there is a lot of movement in the foreground that causes the stabilizer to make the clip really warped, and for these I like to leave it off. I take shakiness over warped because I think that it looks better, and also I really love the feel of a handheld video clip. When done right, it looks very documentary, and that is what we are doing here.