The Importance of Lighting in Video

video light

Lighting is so important in ensuring a quality picture in videos. On film sets, there is an entire department dedicated to designing a light setup and they work under the direction of the Gaffer, who works under the direction of the Director of Photography.

In smaller productions (documentaries & videography) you have to be a bit creative and use whatever light is available. Smaller light sets can  be used but depending on what you are doing and where you are, they may not be logical (i.e. shooting out in the woods). Generators can be used but the more equipment you have the more crew you need to lug it around and set it up so there are other ways around it if you don’t have the money to pay for the extra crew members for your video production.

Reflectors are great. These are just two sided pieces of fabric stretched out over a flexible oval/board frame. They are great because they compact, lightweight and cheap. Reflectors don’t have a huge amount of power and they need light to reflect so they are great for just filling in shadows on faces or lighting up details that can be lost when the lighting is too low.

Clip on LED lights. I like these sometimes. Rarely though. I have them but I don’t tend to use them much. The reason being is that they are like a giant flashlight accouncing what the video camera is shooting. I tend to capture a lot of candid video so I don’t like when people know I am shooting them because they will act differently and having a light in their face takes them out of the moment. I understand this and I myself do not enjoy being in-front of the camera, trust me. They are also like a spotlight, so everything around the subject is dark but the subject is well lit. This can be a nice effect if that is what you are looking for but for me I generally avoid it.

Interior lights in houses. These are not usually very flattering. Tungsten lights are usually fairly yellow and come from above or from the side on a lamp so they are low light and can sometimes cast shadows on faces. If you want a dramatic yellow shadowy face then great, but other than that I am not really super fond of them. Fluorescents look green on a  video camera so if you are in a room with both tungsten and fluorescent lights then you will have to be creative. I usually adjust my white balance accordingly and then find one that has a good distribution and shoot around it. Sometimes I will turn certain lights off if they are contrasting other lights in my shot.

Natural light. This is the bees knees. While natural light can be a bit problematic (clouds going over the sun) you can use it to your advantage to create a clear image in your video with the right amount of shadow and light. I love the way it shows up on camera without adding anything extra that needs to be removed in post production. Playing around with different angles of natural light is fun too. Typically people are told to shoot with the light on their backs to it lights up their subjects but if you actually do the opposite you can have a really night lit background with some fun lens flares shooting through. My cinematography teacher in Prague didn’t like that look too much but I personally love it. Natural light changes with the day so it’s always a good idea to know when and where the sun rises and falls so you can work with it instead of fighting it.

There are of course many many more types of lights to use in your video so explore and experiment and see what happens, that’s the best way to learn!

Take a look at this video by Nacho Guzman on how different colors and light angles change this woman’s face:


Working with Animals on Film Sets and in Weddings

dog wedding

I have worked with animals on film sets, promotional videos, television and weddings. It is often said that children and animals are the hardest to work with in film and I can definitely see that. They have a mind of their own especially with a lot of new people around in a fast-paced environment.

When I worked as a 2nd assistant director on Save My Pet, we had animals ranging from ferrets to cats and dogs. The day would be about what you would expect but we had excellent animal wranglers who seemed to do the impossible when it came to over-excited fur babies. The one thing that most wranglers seem to do is limit the attention to the animals by crew members. You can’t have 30 different people coming up to a dog and playing with it while you are trying to calm it down for a scene where it is supposed to be calmly sitting by its owner. Also, the animal was only ever on set when it needed to be. When shots were being set up, the animal was put back in his/her quiet place so they wouldn’t get scared from all the noise/commotion of changing lights/camera setups.

animals wedding

For weddings, I usually don’t even attempt at getting a shot of a dog or cat until the novelty of me arriving has worn off but I always have my camera ready just in case. This is because animals move around so much when they are excited and it is near impossible to get a focused shot of them.

Dogs and cats love to sniff every piece of equipment so I usually let them do that then try to get them in a nicer background without equipment in it. It is great to get a shot of them acting normal in their own environment but I will be completely honest, what I often end up have to do is going to a room alone with them and dangling a treat behind the camera as they stare at it then I get a good shot before they start drooling. This is the “magic” of working with pets haha. They just get super excited when new people are around so if you get a chance to work with them before everyone arrives then that should work well for you. Most dogs are very hyper with all the wedding commotion but not all, so you kind of just need to play it by ear. Having the bride and/or groom around for a shot can be really cute too so I recommend getting them in the shot if you/they have the time.

dog animal

Now for cats. I absolutely love cats but they are much harder to get a good shot of at weddings. Cats and dogs were not domesticated the same way so they have very different personalities and they interact with their owners in a much different way. Dogs were domesticated by humans for work and companionship, they are naturally people pleasers and are devoted to their owners.

Cats are not quite the same. Humans did not domesticate cats, they domesticated themselves. Cats started hanging around humans because of the rodents that followed humans around. It was an opportunity to get food. Humans benefitted from having cats around so they eventually began to take them in as pets in their communities and homes.

This is not to say cats don’t love humans, they just love them in a different way. Like dogs, cats have individual personalities. I had one myself that had the personality of a dog and followed me everywhere and would never scratch anybody no matter what you did with him. His name was Sir Francis Poe Hufflepuff, see his handsome picture below, he was as soft as he looks :). I have also been around cats that will allow you to pet them but then out of nowhere will take a good swipe at you with their claws out because they felt like their petting time was sufficient (thanks Meowth).

wedding cat
My favourite cat in the whole world, Sir Francis Poe Hufflepuff. Photo by Rock Island Images. ❤

I definitely find that cats take time when you are trying to shoot them on video. Unlike dogs, cats very rarely get happy excited around people because their environment is being upset so they will tend to hide. You really just need to take your time with them and also use treats when possible. I would suggest also going into a separate room with them and let them rub their scent on your equipment so they feel more empowered (it works I swear). I also find that it works better with cats if you stay in one place and just point your camera at them versus chasing them around the room. If all else fails, just get one of the owners to work his/her magic and pick up the cat so you can get a shot of it being still in his/her arms. I love the shots of owners and their pets so this is one I will usually try to get anyway but it’s also nice to have a shot of the pet on their own just in case.

That’s it so far for my advice on shooting animals on film sets and in weddings. I am sure I will come across some more tips, so I will update this blog when the time comes!

Why should you hire a videographer for your wedding?

It’s your big day and the cost of everything can add up very quickly. From transportation rentals that go upwards of $1000 in peak season, to tent rentals that are so expensive they make buying a tent and reselling it more economic. Who doesn’t want to cut corners when calculating their wedding budget?

This is one of the most important days of your life, isn’t it? Photos will capture your day for sure, but you will get so much more when you include a videographer into your plans as well. Most photographers and videographers can work really well together and ensure that you have everything on your wedding day covered. Sometimes there are special moments of the day that you never see – it could be something simple, such as your flower girl twirling in her little white dress in the grass or a family member wiping away a tear during your ceremony: this is where the videographer comes in, we’ll make sure we capture these small moments for you that you can share them with everyone for years to come.

Here are my top 5 reasons to hire a videographer:

Reliving the day: With the added bonus of video you can hear and feel the environment of your wedding day again and again. We have had so much feedback stating our videos help the couple to relive the happiness of their day. Also, some people can’t make it to your wedding and having a trailer video/highlight reel or a video of your favourite speech to send to them is a way you can make them feel as if they were there. This also works for future children and grandchildren – imagine how great it would be to see your grandparents exchange their vows on this wedding day!

Video = MULTIPLE Stills (pictures) Videos are essentially pictures in order, a LOT of them. The frame rate is the amount of pictures per second that are taken in video. Typically most people shoot at 24 frames per second, 25fps or 30fps so that is a lot of photos from our videos to choose from that can be extracted and the exact moment they look their best. We do this with each of our packages so you get both videos as well as pictures – two birds with one stone!

It’s 2015, wedding videos have changed a lot since their popularity in the 90s. Long gone are the days of grainy images in extremely long videos (sometimes 10 hours long) that sit on your shelf and collect dust. In the past 5 years there has been a huge comeback in videos for weddings and other occasions, they are made for the client to watch them in a format that is more clean cut and precise instead of dumping a ton of footage on a VHS tape. Videos have also become more incorporated into Social Media and we have stated in one of our previous posts that even the creator/founder of Facebook, Mark Zukkerberg has predicted that video usage in social media will “explode” in the next few years and eventually pass photos in the future as newer technologies develop.

Future Projects: Nothing can replace memories and that is what videos are, memories. With our videos you can easily take them and use them 10, 20 or 50 years down the road with new footage as a sort of time capsule. An example of this would be an Anniversary video that we made for Doug and Joanne a few months ago using footage from their 10 year anniversary edited with their original wedding video, take a look here!

Why not? Yes, hiring a videographer means more expense added to your budget but it is something that if you don’t get it for your wedding day then you will never have that chance again. Some people regret not hiring a videographer and some people don’t; it is really up to you and it’s your decision on what is important for you to have on your wedding day as well as how much you wish to spend on it. You can’t regain your special day (unless time travel happens!) so the next best thing is ensuring you are having your day captured by talented professionals. We will ensure you get to watch and re-watch those special moments that you otherwise may not see yourself because you are too busy living in the moment of your wedding day, as you should be!

Sound Skills!

Test audiences have shown that people are more tolerant of bad picture than they are of bad audio. In most of our videos so far we have used music over our main wedding videos but now that we are getting more into videos incorporating voices (vows at a weddings, business owners talking about their products/services) we have decided to invest in some high quality sound gear!

Our new wireless mic set by Sennheiser!

Today, our Sennheiser omnidirectional lavaliere wireless mic set arrived! Omnidirectional means it records from different directions instead of the typical narrow sound path of most mics and lavaliere just means that it is a small mic that can be easily clipped on to a surface on the body or hidden on a set. This microphone set is an amazing product and has had top reviews on video blogs all over the world. We are very excited to put it to use with our Zoom recorder to ensure the best sound for our videos whether it’s a wedding in a big open church, an employee talking about the business they work in or an interview of a relative at a family reunion. Stay tuned for videos that incorporate our new sound system!

Price Breakdown of our Packages – What are you paying for?

What exactly are you paying for? It’s important to know the answer to this when paying for anything at all, so here is a list of what is factored in when pricing our packages.

Experience & Training: Experience and training go a long way. Things can (and do) go wrong when filming so it is best to have a professional that knows what he/she is doing when shooting your wedding. Hiring someone that has gone to film school and has worked in the film or wedding industry can go a long way. We had paid a lot of money for our training in film at the Prague Film School (one of Europe’s leading film schools) and are better off for it.

Creative Eye & Talent: When you pick a videographer you are paying for his/her unique creative eye and talent. This has to do with the product of what you are buying. If you wanted to you could certainly ask a member or a friend to film your wedding and you are free to do that but you are missing out on something we as a company hold in high regard and that is our talent. Video isn’t just about stacking a camera on a tripod and pressing record. We consider lighting, framing, angles, movement, emotion, sequencing, transitions and even who or what should be filmed at a specific time. We love what we do and it shows in our work and we are constantly working to better ourselves as videographers by being dedicated and innovative with our projects.

Time: This encompasses all pre production, shooting and post production. Post production in particular is a very lengthy and tedious process. Let’s just start by saying that this is no iMovie editing software and video editing is very different from photo editing. Little is known about editing video by those that don’t do it so it’s hard for people to know what exactly they pay for int the post production of a video. Editing video is extremely time consuming. For weddings, we have to watch all the footage gathered from a 12 or 14-hour day which can take anywhere from 3-10 hours depending on the number of cameras and the amount of footage we have shot. This footage must then be sorted and transcoded so that it can be imported into an editing program (this can take over 5-8 hours alone). The footage is then imported into the program and is then edited into multiple videos. The editing itself can be quite time consuming especially with sound editing. The sound must be synced from the external mic to the video and then each cut made will often needs its own sound adjusting as well as smoothing out between cuts so that there is not static sound between them. These videos are then exported (this can take anywhere from 10-40 mins per video (1 speech = 1 video), and then they are each transcoded which can take from 20 mins per video to an hour depending on the length. Finally, the videos are uploaded onto Google Drive to give them to our clients (or another medium) which can take another 20-50 mins per video. The whole process can take a while. So for a wedding video it is typically 4-5 days of straight post production and editing plus the 12-hour day of shooting. As you can see, time is definitely a factor in our prices as you are paying for a full week of work by a professional in the wedding and film industry.

Depreciation on Equipment: Camera equipment and Editing Software are very expensive and they both depreciate with time. For example, all cameras have a lifespan and their internal monitors can collect more dust with age which can show of on video and be VERY difficult to remove. It’s best to ensure you are using equipment that is top of the line at all times. The body of a “cheap” professional camera runs around $3,500 alone. Lenses are also costly, our cheapest lens is around $1,000 and our most expensive is $2,500. Batteries and memory cars which are $40-$150 each also depreciate. There are also steady cams (~$600 each), sound equipment ($1000 for a basic set of one wireless mic and a receiver), tripods ($200), sliders ($200) and many other items that all add up to the value of our equipment. Most videographers also use their own cars to get around on the wedding day and there is certainly depreciation on a car the more you drive it (especially on our roads in Newfoundland).

Professionalism: Unlike the “Creative Eye & Talent” listed above, this is the service aspect of hiring a videographer. You will be spending your entire day with this person, he/she will be around your entire friends and family and will be working with the photographers to ensure both of them get the shots they need. Professionalism is HUGE in this regard. You need someone you get along with that will work well with others and strive to do the best they can to give you their best work.

Costs of running a business (taxes, advertising, editing software, travel, storage space, time): Like any other business, we have costs associated in the day-to-day running of Tin Bird Productions Inc. We pay taxes, we spend money in advertising and will continue to do so in the future. Also editing software is very expensive and must be kept up to date. Data is also factored into our prices as we typically use just under a Terabyte of raw footage per wedding. Travel is also factored into our cost. We typically meet with clients before the wedding, we go to the rehearsal, then on the day of the wedding we travel around the city and sometimes outside of it for the ceremony, photos and reception. Sometimes we also pick up and drop off drives for our bigger packages that can’t be transferred online. We also spend a fair bit of time meeting and communicating with our clients as well as updating our website, Facebook Page and blog. All of these things are considered when building our packages and deciding prices.

So in conclusion, you are paying for all the above when you are hiring us. We have had a very successful start to our business and we look forward to that continuing into 2015! Have a great year everyone!! -Lian (Tin Bird Productions Inc.)

Wedding Videos – Behind The Scenes with Tin Bird Productions

Tin Bird Productions Lian Morrison

This is a behind the scenes shot of me (Lian) taken by Sally Le Drew of Pictures By Sally LeDrew. She is excellent to work with for anyone looking for a photographer, and her photos are amazing! Here I am working on Valerie & Stephen Brown’s wedding video in October 2014, fun times!! 🙂

Weddings are great to work on, you get a lot of creative freedom and you make a product that your clients will keep and cherish forever. Each video means a lot to the people you film them for as well as their friends and families. When else do you have someone following you and your family around with a camera capturing a milestone in your lives when you are all celebrating together? That’s essentially what I like most about filming weddings, how important they are to a client. When you work on bigger productions, there isn’t much of a personal feel or connection to the film/commercial. Also, there are a lot of restrictions over what you can/can’t do and also how things are done. Usually there are a lot of people you are working with (which can be a good thing) but it’s just not the environment I prefer. I like deciding shots, filming real reactions of real people and being part of something that means so much to someone else.

Now that doesn’t mean that weddings can’t be stressful. They can be at times but at the end of the day, the couple is getting married surrounded by their loved ones and nothing can change that. Each wedding is different from the next and it shows in all the videos ( I couldn’t do the same shots for each wedding if I tried). I like to keep it fairly simple with my camera movements and editing, I don’t want my shots to look too trendy so that in 10 years I will look at them and think “…what was I thinking.” I have made enough mistakes with my hair and clothes in my adolescent years to make up for that. Timeless videos are key for me!

So those are my thoughts on making wedding videos, I’m sure it’s a topic I will blog about more in the future. Thanks for reading! -Lian



Wedding Videography in Newfoundland

Wedding videography in Newfoundland is something that has taken off in the past few years. Back in the 80s and 90s wedding videos were pretty popular in Newfoundland and everywhere else. The problem was that people found that they were left with a really long 8-hour tape that they simply never had the time to sit down and watch. Who does, really? Just imagine having a video like this one except it’s 8 hours long… This type of wedding video was the bees knees back in the 90s though, tenor sax and all!

Not only were the videos quite long, they were put on VHS tapes. With technology changing at such a fast rate, after some time, most people couldn’t even play their videos anymore as they had thrown out their old VHS players and replaced them with DVD and Blueray players. So things died down for a little while for wedding videographers, which made sense really when you think about it. A wedding is expensive enough and why would you pay so much for something that you may never watch and will one day be outdated to the point you won’t even have anything to play it on?

That’s when advances in technology struck again, but this time to help videographers! You could now all of a sudden buy cheaper cameras with a much higher resolution. Mind you, the really good ones are still pretty pricey, but compared to the prices of professional cameras in the 90s they are pretty affordable. Not only that but for a low cost, videographers could also burn their own DVDs and Bluerays, put videos on flash drives or even upload them online for clients to download themselves, using no physical medium that would ever become outdated.

Things changed pretty fast. Videographers in bigger cities such as Montreal, London and New York started doing “video trailers” and treating wedding videos as more of an art form. Now instead of wedding videos that are like long movies, couples could get something shorter but with a personalized style that was easier to share with their friends and family. When was the last time you watched a full wedding video from the 90s? Did you enjoy it? How about a 5-10 minute video summarizing someone’s whole day? Chances are you are more likely to watch and enjoy the shorter video if a friend or family member showed it to you.

Wedding videos are now catching up with our interactive online lifestyles through social media. Most people now have friends and family that live away and can’t always make it to their wedding so these new online videos are a perfect way to make them feel bad about not being able to come! (Just kidding). But all in all, wedding videography in Newfoundland is making a come back just like everywhere else. Hiring a professional videographer is a great way to capture the essential moments that made up your day. Paired with great photos (and there are a lot of extremely talented photographers in Newfoundland), you’ll be able to have something that you will be able to keep forever that will be a reflection of how you felt on your wedding day. Contact us today to book your videography package for your wedding in Newfoundland!


It’s Business Time

Take a look at our fancy new business cards hot off the press!

professional videography


They are printed on a textured card stock from Quik Print and the font is Copperplate, for any font fiends that might be curious to know!

I designed the cards myself on Photoshop (with the help of a few YouTube tutorials) and I was really picky about the paper but I eventually made up my mind. Maybe I will get a photo of them to post here to show the final result? The whole process reminded me a little of the business card scene from American Psycho – anyone that has seen the movie, will know exactly what I am talking about. I had fun designing the card and I am looking forward to giving them out to potential future clients!

Also, this week I will be launching my Facebook page so check back later to see the brand new page!