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Demo: Decide What to Shoot

Lesson 32 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

Demo: Decide What to Shoot

Lesson 32 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

32. Demo: Decide What to Shoot


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: Decide What to Shoot

I'm excited to get into this next part, this is a really common thing, I think, that happens during sessions is they're usually outside. Lots of families have trampolines, and trampolines are hard to shoot, because you have the netting in front of you, you're not sure where your focus can be, it's hard to land focus 'cause you've got that in front of you and so, this is usually a challenging thing. Now, when we first, they were describing this thing that Dad does called pop-ups, and I'm like, what's a pop-up? And I keep thinking Dad's gonna be on the trampoline, and you know how you do a double bounce? So I was expecting that. Wasn't expecting him to be under the trampoline with his feet, and then like literally popping the kids up from the trampoline. And I was like, well that's kinda cool. And so, we did a little bit of that. When we first started going outside, the boys were playing in the swingset. And they were spinning around a lot, and so we did that. And then they were just pla...

ying on the trampoline themselves and there was some, I'm not sure what was on the trampoline, some plastic things, and they were throwing them at each other. And I did, I climbed up on the play equipment, and I was like, hey, show me some tricks. Only because, parents weren't out there, all they were doing was throwing things at each other, one of them got napped in the head, the other one got knocked in the head, and I'm like, well, show me some tricks on the trampoline, like what do you normally do? And so, it just was a way to kind of Segway without telling them what to do, but giving them an, and then immediately they were like, oh yeah I can do some tricks, and then they were doing that. That's literally as much intervention as I did in that moment, okay. And I only did that because I was kind of trying to get something a little different than the fighting, right, for Mom. So, thinking from Mom's perspective. So we'll go ahead and watch this, and we'll get through, they also go into the garden and they are one of the things that she mentions specifically on the questionnaire was that her oldest loves to go and pick vegetables in the garden for their salad that they have everyday. And so, she really wanted a little bit of that captured. And so I was really mindful about making sure that I got a bit of him doing that and shooting that in the best way that I could. When I got to the home, I wasn't expecting the gravel that was, you'll see it, I wasn't expecting all the gravel that was around, and I normally shoot barefoot, I'm barefoot, I have to go put shoes on because I can't I can hardly walk around barefoot on them. Boys didn't care, like it didn't matter to them, they were used to it, clearly. But the gravel immediately I'm thinking, well if I was going to capture any audio of this, this is gonna be hard if I'm moving around on gravel and I'm trying to capture any audio of that. That's gonna potentially come up. I know that with the trampoline and all of this movement, I'm probably gonna wanna do that in slow motion. So, it's not a huge thing, but if there was laughter, that would've been something I wanted to consider. Capturing the audio of, or at least using the audio from a slow motion clip of, right. With trampoline stuff I'm trying to shoot this as not literally as possible, like I'm trying to be really like, we don't need to be super literal about the way that we're shooting the trampoline, I want to focus on this would feel for the boys. Just this midair jump. I don't get a lot of photos, this is probably the best one that I got from the whole thing. But, there are a few moments where I switch over. My main focus is getting some B-roll in the backyard, and shooting and working the scene as best as I can. So we'll go through this. Oh, I'll say as well, I'm pretty sure I missed, so I missed them getting dressed 'cause I was shooting the baby. And I missed them going outside, so I don't have any footage of them actually going outside. So I have to think about how I'm going to do that later for the edit. (children laughing) (gravel crunching underfoot) (camera snapping) (woman laughing offscreen) Kyle said it'd be fun if we walked to the street. (woman laughing offscreen) That was it. I wish I'd had shot footage of just the tire in the frame and their feet, but I didn't. (trampoline bouncing) I'm like gingerly walking. (laughs) (boys laughing) I'm like, how can I stand on this thing? How can I climb up here to get a better angle? But, the problem is, once I do this, then they're like, "Ooh, we're gonna climb up there with you." (children hollering and playing) So here's where I talk, I think. (Courtney laughs) Show me some tricks! (boys yelling) Does your dad jump off the trampoline? [Courtney Voiceover] See that moment I just let him come through the frame? I don't follow. But, I wanted to shoot it just in case. What's a pop-up? Tell what a pop-up is I'm gonna be on this side now! Oh, okay. Yeah! [Courtney Voiceover] I do have it in my contract, I'm not liable, I'm not a babysitter. Don't expect me to be one. I'm not gonna stop this. But, I figure this is something he does, he was really comfortable and he did it really quickly. That was awesome, are you gonna do that over the edge of fence? Yeah. Cool. Those are high! Can you? [Courtney Voiceover] Dad's just laying on this gravel. (children hollering and playing) (gravel crunching underfoot) (Courtney clearing her throat) [Courtney Voiceover] So it's really hard to shoot. You see where Dad is just in the shadows, kids are in the light? On my feet, ready? I'm done! You're done? Yeah. You need a break? I'm doing all the work! (everyone laughs) Ready for me? Set, rock out! [Courtney Voiceover] I will say, later, I also shoot it from a much wider angle down the side of the fence as well. And my goal is to get of any movement that's happening several times, I wanna get as many different angles of that as I can so that I can have that same action in different camera positions. So Mom's changed clothes. Hey Charlie? What? Try and get some butter lettuce that's over by the carrots. Okay. 'Cause that's the good sweet lettuce. Lettuce isn't sweet. Well, some of it's bitter, right? The butter lettuce is not bitter. I don't see any. Let's get some! No, that's still not true, you're standing in front of it, it's all this stuff right here, is the stuff you want for your salads. Tell him you want him to go and get some of that stuff. [Courtney Voiceover] One thing about shooting with an indie filter, you can hear me change my shutter a lot, is that it's really easy to forget because you're just looking at the meter, it's really easy to forget that you're also controlling the light that's coming through the indie filter, so if you've got that too dark, for me, my ISO was up crazy high, because I'd been shooting the baby in the room earlier 'cause I had, it was too fast, take it off, all that, so it is one of those things that you need to practice a lot with. But yeah, and always just checking your settings, make sure that they're what they should be. But it hasn't grown at all since-- What about the arugula lettuce? I don't know when it harvests that. That looks like its close though. It might be worth a Google. They not spicy so though. Oh, well some of these peppers are super spicy, Henry. Maybe you could make the spicy ones not spicy for the kids. [Courtney Voiceover] So I'd noticed that they're side-by-side like this, and I really wanna get that. Kinda sweet pepper, I don't know if you, oh wait, we have peppers. Really? Will they be ready? Is it ready? I don't know. Can you scoot over a little bit? What kind is it? Sweet Banana Peppers. Is it the kind that we like? I think you might like these peppers. One, two! We have two peppers! Wow! And that's it, two sad little peppers. [Courtney Voiceover] When someone does something like that, like when a parent specifically points out something like that, "Well we've got two peppers!" I'm gonna need to get a closeup of those peppers. Just in case, if we are gonna use that later. Like if I'm gonna use the audio from his voice later then, "Well we've got two peppers!" Then I just go straight into a shot of the peppers. So it's just things like that, paying attention when you're shooting and paying attention not just to what they're doing but what they're saying as well. Which can be challenging to do all at the same time. But, it gets easier the more that you do it. But yeah, so are there any questions on any of that? I just have had this question about parents being either, sorry, how do I phrase this? The mom really wanted to show her love, and yet she's not necessarily participating, does she participate later? How do you make sure that one parent isn't featured more than the other? I recently did a day in the life where the dad worked nights, so how do you make it seem like they're still there and a part of it. Yeah, that is a really, really good question. And I noticed it too. I thought it was really interesting that there was a little bit of a disconnect between what she said in the questionnaire and then what actually happened, and I'm not there to orchestrate anything, right. I think clients know that I am not gonna be directing or guiding anything. It's up to them to show that outwardly if that's what they wanna see back. That said, I am very very mindful of the fact that that's what she wants to see, and so when I go to edit, first of all, I'm hyper-aware of any time that there is connection. That there is a loving moment that's shown. There only has to be a few for me to include in the film to make it seem like there's a lot, okay, to really show that. And, also, kind of trying to shoot it more, almost like from the perspective of her, like this whole nostalgic feel the way that, like when she watches it back, I'm hoping that it's gonna be through her eyes in a way. Like, it's me, but I'm really really conscious of how she sees them, because I know how she sees them, so I'm trying to shoot that in the way that she sees them. Just through, 'cause I know her, and we've spoken so much. So there's that way that I can make it so that what she feels is how much she loves them. And kind of it really circles back to how I felt before, and I'm so sensitive to that. And I feel like I can give that to people. And so I know, I'm really conscious of that, and so I'm shooting in that way as much as I can. And it's shooting in that way, but also editing in that way. And I'll show that, I think, in the edit. But, you know, I'm not gonna say to her, you told me that you wanted to see all this connection, so go connect, 'cause I think that would then feel forced and I think it might make her more self-conscious about it. I think she might have been a little bit nervous as well. Like I think just having a film crew, too, around us, it wasn't just me, I don't know whether it would have been different if they hadn't been there, if they had. But, you know, it's just when you know that already, being hyper-aware of it, and really trying to make sure that you capture anything that you can. And there was some really really sweet moments between her and the baby later when she gets him dressed which we don't see unfortunately in the behind the scenes, so you're gonna see in the footage, that I show you when we edit. And that, I think, helps with that. With the boys later, when we're heading to the park, there are a couple of things there, where she's helping them, but not a whole lot. Yeah, I mean, it's hard, it's really hard when they say that. And then it feels like that's not where they're giving you. So I think as much as you can, as you experience that kind of thing, you just kind of try and really, you get better at prepping your clients, but no matter, I mean I'm pretty experienced at this, I've done it a lot, and I thought I prepped well enough, and even still, it's different to what was given. So, you just have to roll with that, and maybe that's just what her way of showing love is different to what we might think it is. It might be different to the way that you show love, and so what you think someone's display of love is for you, might just be different for her. And she might still see it, and that's the goal, right. So she'll still see it. I think, I know, I know she'll still see it, just wait. Wait til you see the footage, yeah. [Woman With Glasses] Do you ever share any of your previous films with your upcoming clients, so that they get an idea of what it's going to look like or could look like? That's such a good question. I don't usually have to worry about it, 'cause most of the people that book me have seen everything. And I get a lot of repeat clients. I get a lot of clients that book me every single year. And they come back, it's almost to the point now where I'm like, I can't take on any new clients 'cause I'm so full every year of the ones that keep coming back. Which then it's like, I'd really like to have a new family. (laughs) But, in saying that, these guys. They specifically sat down and watched, 'cause I reached out to her for this whole thing, right. So, she had known my work, but he had never seen it. And usually when a parent is convincing the other parent, they're showing them the stuff, like you got a lot of this, we're spending a lot of money on this, so they both look at it and make sure that they're both on board and it's what they want. And she actually said to me that they had sat down and watched my films and she was like, "I'm crying, "and I don't know these people, "and we've sat down and watched every single one "that you've made, and they're just incredible "and we can't wait for this." And I think she made a deliberate effort after I spoke to her during the session consult about how he was feeling about the whole thing. And did he understand how it was gonna go? And does he know that I'm not there and I'm not gonna be telling him what to do? All of that, and so, I think she kind of maybe thought he would just go along with it and he would be fine, but then after our conversation, she specifically sat down with him. I didn't tell her to do that, she did it on her own, and so she sat down with him and they watched them together. And then she said he was surprised it wasn't what he expected, I think he expected it to be more like an old school home movie where there was no music and it was just them, and he was pleasantly, pleasantly surprised. And then understood the artistry that went into it. And so, yeah, I think it's a really great idea, especially when you're starting out, for people to understand what it is, to be showing the work regularly on your social media, on your website, there needs to be lots of examples. And I think it's a great idea, especially when you're building, you're educating your market about this and you're first starting out. Then to show them, and say this is what it looks like, this is what you're gonna get, and that really helps. I think it also helps people to be able to see themselves in your films for other people. You know, if they can see themselves in it, they understand it better, they get it. So, yeah, yeah. [Man With Glasses] So you made a couple of hours of clips, and then you turn it into a three minute video, film. Do you get requests to release unedited clips or to make a second movie from the unedited clips, let's say, six months, a year later, and how do you handle that? Never. I haven't ever had anyone request the raw footage, if they did, I would say no. And if they ask me to edit from the same footage I would say no. It's one of those things that I think that there's a lot of creativity that goes into it for the story, for the film. It's so much work. And it's about that, it's not really about seeing everything, seeing all of the raw footage. For me, it's showing them the best moments of their life, of their life in the season of their life in this way. This is the product. They don't get the rest, that's extra. That's like giving all of your raw files to your photography clients, you wouldn't do that. They don't need to see themselves in the photos that aren't as great. You wanna show your best work, I would not be okay with handing that over and then them saying, or posting it somewhere. And then, who did that? Courtney Holmes. Oh, that's not what I was expecting. 'Cause it's, you know, it's different. So it's a polished product that I give them. That said, I have worked with families where a parent has had cancer, or there's been an illness, or something like that, 100% I'd give them everything, 'kay? Because in those moments, you wanna have every single piece of video footage that you possibly can of that person, so yes, I would give 'em everything. [Dark Haired Woman] I'm curious here about that when something happened, like something really interesting, or the children is doing something improperly, or in danger, but their parents are not with them, and you can't stop, maybe you can't stop to laugh when something really interesting, or you can't stop yourself to asking him not to do, or stop it. That will cause two problems: one, is your audio will be in the video, and the other thing is when you're talking, you might shaking your lens, and it will have some moments for the video, so how do you think about it and how do you control it? That's good question. Yeah, I mean... If that happened, it would just be a moment that was missed. So, if there was a moment that was happening, and I laughed over the top of it, then unfortunately that's my bad, I would miss that moment, we'd move on, right, have a funeral for it, then we go on. But I would, I'm really aware of that and so if I notice that there's something... There's a much much higher percentage of footage that I'm capturing where there is no audio for me and no shake that is gonna be usable in my film than there is of the other stuff. So it's okay if sometimes you're gonna be over the video, that's fine. There's probably, you might be shooting slow motion, like in the moment we're in the backyard, I was shooting for slow motion the whole time anyway, I'm not gonna be using any of that audio. There's gonna be enough opportunities in other places. If I know specifically, and I can anticipate when I know I'm gonna be using this audio I'm super careful about my sounds. And so I'll be extremely still, or I'll be just really mindful of my own movements and how much noise I'm making, like in the bedroom with the baby, if I was trying to capture the snoring, my feet moving from, shifting my weight could make the floor creak. So I just have to be really careful about that extra sound. But sometimes, you know, it's inevitable, I was trying to capture the snoring and the window was open and I could hear the kids screaming and losing their, yeah, in the backyard, and I'm like, that ruined my audio. It's a challenge of doing it that so much, there's no perfect, you're not ever going to be able to shoot it all where you never have camera shake and you never screw up the audio. You will have both, and that's okay, because you're gonna have enough footage of other stuff, there's so many great moments that happen throughout the process of a session that you can use something else. So and I think sometimes that's what holds people back, is that fear of messing up or whether you can control that audio and or the camera shake, specifically, and it's okay. You only need like a few seconds of really stable footage for each clip. It doesn't have to be ten full seconds of (snaps fingers) outstanding, smooth, stable footage. You only need a few seconds of it, and so start small, and then as you get experienced, you'll get better muscle control, more muscle memory, you'll get better at it, and then the shakes aren't at obvious.

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