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Demo: Capture Authentic Moments

Lesson 30 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

Demo: Capture Authentic Moments

Lesson 30 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

30. Demo: Capture Authentic Moments


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Demo: Capture Authentic Moments

We come downstairs, and the breakfast scene was... We go into the kitchen, and it's Father's Day. So, the boys had some gifts to give their dad, and I anticipated that, so I shot that at 24 frames. And then they start... I think he had asked for pancakes, but then he changed his mind to French toast and she was like, 'Okay, well you can cook that.' And so he was cooking his French toast, and then they sat down and had a meal of French toast. We don't have some of that behind-the-scenes. They sort of stepped out, which actually was really great because it gave me a chance to talk to the family without the film crew there, and I think that kind of helped ease their nerves a little bit as well. And so, things started to get a little smoother after that, but we'll go into this. So I'm starting out... I come in here and I notice just these really beautiful prints on the wall, so I shoot that just as an option. I'm really just looking for thinks at that moment to shoot, if we do come down. T...

he boys are getting things out of the refrigerator on their own, and so I don't know how relevant this is going to be later, so I'm shooting it in the best way that I can. (boys chatter) Which is hard because it's a really tight space. Don't like that angle, so I'm going to get this side on, because I like the two of them together here. I feel like they're still pretty aware of the camera here, and still kind of playing it up. And she's waiting for me. I find that happens a lot, she's waiting for me, because she doesn't want to get in my way. I'm like just go on through, don't worry about me. (dad, mom chat) So I'm just trying to get baby and mom here. I'm probably not gonna use much of this, because they said this kitchen's gonna get ripped out. This is their least-favorite part of the house. But, I'm shooting it because I need to make sure that I have it in case I need it for later. So I'm looking around. Mom's a photographer, so there's so many beautiful pictures in the home, of the boys. And so I'm shooting that to incorporate it. One of the saddest parts about this shoot, I found, was that they never spent any time in this beautiful lounge room, family room. So, I don't love the reflection that's happening on that picture, but I'm shooting it anyway. What's hard about this is that there's never really a way to open the scene, the way it was easier in the bedroom. So, I'm focused the most on getting this, like... Setting up the thing for dad. The cards for dad, the presents for dad. So I'm anticipating dad's gonna come in, probably from this side, so I move over behind the boys so that I can hopefully get him coming in. Anticipating as well the audio, so I'm putting the headphones in my ear. So here he comes. But, cameraman's in it. This is my footage. So there's this cute moment, but then that happens. So, I kinda then have to start all over again, in my head, of the edit. Because I'm like, well I can't use that intro of him coming in now, because it doesn't work. Whoa. 'To my dad, my dad's job, building airplanes. 'My favorite thing to do with my dad 'is go to the children's museum.' More than bike-rides or skiing? Yep. 'My dad's superpower, 'go super-fast running on the water and the air too. 'I love dad more than sushi. 'It always makes me laugh, 'with the funny jokes and all that, 'and I laugh at my dad because I love him.' Awesome, did you make this at school? Yeah, um yes. That's awesome, wow. Whoa, this has got big chunks of wood. (son chatters at dad) Just so you know, I'm keeping my camera rolling this whole time, even though I'm moving. Because I'll want that audio, and I might be able to put something else over the top of it to cut out my camera movement, but I don't want to cut off something that's being said really well, a great sentence or something, too early. (son and dad chatter) So switching a photo, but I lost that moment, I was too slow. I'm really trying to get mom in this now, so you can see I've gone pretty much all the way around them. Oh it hides a bookmark? Awesome, I needed a bookmark. Did you make this at school too? Yep. How long did all this stuff take you? You must have been building this forever. (son chatters) It almost looks like you're wearing a tie. (sons chatter) That's awesome. I'm really trying to film that almost as though it's from dad's perspective. Over his shoulder, looking at what he's looking at with the boys touching him, engaging with him. Favorite activity to do? 'I like to play with you.' (sons and dad chatter) That's the worst grip ever. I don't recommend that. I'm holding my headphones at the same time. It's much better to do this. What I want for you: 'To have everything you want,' aww. I love you. What is this? Motorcycle. (dad laughs) And that's ice cream. Oh I would love a motorcycle and ice cream. That's awesome. And you skipped one page. Did I? Oh, 'You're good at biking--' Building stuff. Building stuff, and being a dad. I kinda gave up on including mom in it. You're the best dad in the universe. Just there wasn't the reciprocal engagement. I'd rather just, yeah. Mommy's heart skills are a little questionable. New sunglasses, I need new sunglasses. 'You're stellar, thanks for teaching me 'to be good, stars, to daddy you're the best, 'love Charlie, Henry, Oscar and mommy.' And she started to draw two front teeth of a rabbit, but I think it's supposed to be sunglasses. I gave up. (laughs) (family Chatters) Who's hungry, I'm starving? (baby cries) So I've been in kinda close for a little while now, so I'm moving out. I'm getting farther back. (family chatters) I'm kinda hoping baby does... I know he's crying, but I'm hoping he's gonna do like a snuggle moment that I can get through that, which is why I was on that... (family chatters) Their feet together like that. And the moment is when he brings his feet up, like he pushes on his dad's foot to get up. (kids laugh, chatter) Okay, so this is really hard. No, I don't want audio of this. It's gonna turn into crying any minute, right? This is what I want. Like I want the sun flare. I'm trying to think about how I can make this as beautiful as possible. (crowd laughs) Okay? Okay, because when I asked mom, in the questionnaire, what do you wanna feel and see when you look back at this film, and these photos, and her response was, 'How much I love my kids. 'The love that we all have for each other.' And the boys were just wrestling a lot, and I wanted to include that at some point. Like, the fun, play-wrestling, and I do capture a little bit of it. But I also was like, well it felt like that's all that was happening between them. There wasn't really a kind of a beautiful moment of connection between them that I was waiting for, and I knew that they were really just punching each other, basically. And that's something they do, but I wanted to shoot it in a way that would feel a little more nostalgic, and less like, ooh, this is gonna end badly soon, you know? So I was looking for ways to... That's the only time they were in that beautiful room. And I knew, you know, when you see the harsh light on the floor, you get your camera down there and you point it straight at the light, into the light, and you can get that beautiful sun flare, and if they're moving in and out between that, then it just adds to that whole memory feeling of it. And yeah, that was me just trying to look for the most beautiful way to shoot that scene. And it still shows what they're doing, but just in a pretty way. So, that scene was really... I knew that while there was a lotta audio in that. There was a lot of him getting the presents, and talking to them, and that was really really great. So, really great engagement, I knew I was gonna get great audio out of that. What is challenging, I think, about it, is that you then have to determine how much of that is gonna go in the film. Because that could probably easily fill like two minutes. I mean, they were doing that for a little while, right? So it's then just taking that and deciding later, in the edit, what parts of the things that they're saying are gonna fit together. Because you also have the different angles, and so you're changing. And so, it's kind of challenging to combine it all, but it's doable. And so those are the things that I'm thinking about while I'm shooting. And, really just being mindful about how I'm going to be able to introduce this next scene. Every time we move to a different place, I think in my mind, 'How am I going to introduce this in the edit?' And so I shoot things, and I shoot it in a way to start with that will help me, and give me footage to use when I'm editing later. Always thinking ahead, right? Same thing throughout the middle, and then at the end as well when I'm anticipating that we're probably gonna change. We're probably gonna go somewhere. Before that happens, I need to get myself some kind of an ending clip to help me transition to the next scene. And so, I think it's important to note, and I'll go through this more later in the editing, is that I really, I don't... Obviously I don't include everything. I'm trying to be mindful of the best moment, and build around that. So setting up the scene for the best moment, building around that to end it, and then moving on to the next location. And sometimes it means that because we're in there for such a short amount of time... Like the part where they're wrestling, playing with each other, the boys, there's no time to set that scene up. Like, there was no time at all. And so, I just sort of stuck to that one spot, and I'll probably just use maybe one clip from that, and that's okay too. So, it's important also note that sometimes, you don't have the time to actually set up a scene, and it's okay to have some of those clips placed in there, just as long as you're strategic about it when you're editing. Are there any questions so far? We do have questions from some folks at home. And so one question is, this is from Diana Higgs who says, 'How do you avoid jerky motion with so much movement? 'Or, is it about the editing to keep the flow?' So you're moving around so much, and I know we talked about some of this earlier in the class. But, in this scenario... Okay, so I mean it is hard. And I said before that during the place where there was good audio, and I was moving, there's a lot of jerky movement in that. And that's okay. A lot of that's edited out, obviously, strategically. But, because I do move around a lot, what I do is I'll move to a position, I stabilize myself, I take a breath, I breathe out slowly as I film. So, it's like... It's like when you're lifting weights. I'm such a gym junkie, can't you tell? (audience laughs) It's like when, you know, it's the breathing of that, and it engages your core, and it helps you with your muscles. It's a similar thing. So once you get to a position, I just, I plant myself, I'm firm. Like I'm not wobbly. I wait until I'm firm, I'm ready, I'm engaged, and then I take a breath and then I start to record, okay? So, keeping that in mind, keeping your breathing in check helps you a lot with that stabilization, and just reducing the amount of jerky movement. But it is hard, and I think it's okay to just... Again, it kind of goes back to that 'let go of perfection' thing. It's okay if there's a little bit of camera shake at the beginning of a clip, just don't use that part. Cut that out, start from where you'd gotten it stable. It's okay if your rack focus wasn't exactly right, or you missed the focus and then you brought it back. Start from that point, okay? Start from the point where it's the best, and edit it out. Any other questions? Can you share your camera settings for when you were down low and you got the sun flare? Because I'm thinking in those types of situations, if you're shooting wide open, then you would blow a lot of highlights. Mm hmm, yeah I don't know what they were off the top of my head. That was a good question. But I will look, and I'll try to remember to mention it when we're editing. But yeah, it is... I wouldn't say it's blown out, because I did drop exposure to expose for the light that's coming in. So not all the way down, but it's not too blown. You mentioned yesterday that you use back-button focus. When you switch to a still, are you then toggling your focus point as well? Rarely. Okay, so are you just, do you pick one of your focus points and leave it? Yeah I usually center, and then recompose. We have more questions coming in about this whole dance and interaction with the families. Great. So Craig asks, 'I know that you say, Courtney, 'that you don't necessarily coach families. 'But do you ever suggest, especially to the children, 'to not look at the camera 'if you do see them starting to continue to look at you?' No, I never say 'Don't look at the camera.' Because there are some times... I don't want them to feel like, you know... I think if I said don't look at the camera it could go two ways. It could be like, 'I'm gonna look at the camera the whole time 'just to defy you.' And then, it could also go the, like, 'This is really awkward and I'm gonna try to avoid it, 'and look everywhere else but at you.' So I don't, just because I think the better way to do that, and to handle that situation, for me, has been, from experience, just putting the camera down. If I feel like they're really playing up for the camera, or looking at me, I put the camera down and I just start talking to them. And I just engage. And so, when I notice that happening, that's how I handle it. And it usually works pretty well. Because they then forget about the camera, and then I can pull it back up unobtrusively, and start shooting things. And they start getting used to that. And they realize it, and it works pretty well.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work