Getting Started Shooting Food Videos

Video is becoming more and more important these days. At least, that has been the popular refrain for the past few years. Is this the year it finally happens? There certainly is a lot of momentum that seems to point in that direction. It may be high time you start get to understand the beast we ever so descriptively call “video.”

Here are three different videos using the same recipe.  Which style would you like to learn how to produce?


First

 

Second

 

Third

 

First a bit about us. We have a boutique production company in the Bay Area called FullView Media where we specialize in live video production and webcasting. We broadcast client events live while recording them for on-demand playback. We also work with food brands by shooting simple and approachable cooking videos for their sites. Between the two of us, we have over 20+ years in the creative space, shooting videos as well as photography. When we are not working with our clients, we enjoy working on food videos for our blog Chez Us. As well, we enjoy teaching what we are passionate about, shooting video and photography.

The hardest part about shooting food videos is getting started. There are a lot of pieces, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We tell everyone the same thing during our hands-on workshops; start with what you have available to you and what you know. The basics, which we will touch on here, can be applied whether you are shooting with a video camera, a DSLR or point-n-shoot or even your phone. Just get started!

There is a lot of ground to cover, and I am only going to share some of the nitty gritty as the art of shooting video tends to take longer than a blog post. The great thing is this site dedicated to learning how to shoot food videos (and soon photography). Right now we are in Beta and if you sign up before February 28, 2016, you will have access to how to videos that go into more detail. The code to sign up is: DMPG15

Gear

Camera – Of course, you have to have a camera. The good news is everything is a video camera, nowadays. You have one with you at all times; use your smartphone to get started. The quality you can achieve from your iPhone is fantastic, but it’s not about the gear, it’s about you mastering the basics. Once you learn what to look for, you will be shocked at how quickly you will improve. Grow into the hobby, and reward yourself as you improve and outgrow your tools. In our workshops, we have students start by shooting short videos, one minute or less, using their phones.

Tripod – Tripods come in many shapes and sizes. No matter if you are shooting with a video camera or your phone, you need a tripod. Stability is key with shooting video, as well it makes it easier for you to shoot your videos. A selfie stick isn’t just for shooting yourself. It can add a great deal of stability to your shots by allowing you to use two hands to hold the phone.

Lights – Lighting is where the magic happens. Once you learn the basics of lighting and learn to work with what you have available, you will drastically improve the look of your videos. Learning how to light your shots will set you apart from the rest.

The first rule of lighting is DO NOT USE OVERHEAD HOUSE LIGHTS!! House lights are meant to light your house, not your scene or subject. this is the main reason your videos look orange and ugly. There. I said it. Many of you have learned this lesson from photography. Find a window and use it as your light source (in our videos our window is our back light).  You do have to be careful because natural light can change from one minute to the next. Unlike photography, where you are capturing one moment in time, shooting video will take longer, and the light will change. Investing in a lighting system is worthwhile. You can find softbox lights on Amazon for under $100. Start with one or two and grow from there. You don’t need a lot of light; you just need to use what you have correctly.

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Audio – Videos come in many different forms. If you plan to speak in your video or talk over visuals of your process, you’re going to need a microphone. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a microphone. Start with an affordable microphone, and grow from there. You can find great mics for under $20.

Shooting

Now that you have gear all sorted out let’s have some fun and begin shooting.

Storyboard – A storyboard is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas. You don’t have to get carried away with Hollywood style illustrations. Use the recipe as your guide from one shot to the next. An outline of your story and shots will help you plan out your shoot, more importantly, help you remember everything. There is nothing worse than forgetting a shot. Find what works for you and use that method.

Landscape vs Portrait – Snap Chat and Periscope are trying o change things up;  but, always shoot video in landscape.  Never portrait.

Types of Shots – Video shots can be broken down into two concepts: A-Roll and B-Roll. A-Roll is your primary footage of someone talking, or telling the story. B-Roll is secondary footage that is used to tell your story. Simply put, A-Roll is shots of people and B-Roll is shots of things. B-Roll is an important part of the storytelling process. It gives you something to cut away to in the editing process and helps your story transition natural. Un-natural transitions in your video are called jump cuts. You want to avoid jump cuts in your video.

For example, if I were making a video about tomato sauce, my opening shot would have me telling you how I make tomato sauce. When I start talking about ingredients, that is when I would cut to a shot of tomatoes and other ingredients. I might then cut back to an A-Roll shot of me speaking about the tomato, then cut to a shot of the pan on the stove.

Finally, when shooting your video, it’s a good idea to get at least two shots of the same process. Get a close-up shot and a slightly wider shot. You won’t use both shots; you will pick the shot that helps your story flow without awkward cuts or jump cuts.

Editing – That brings us to editing. Once you have all your shots, you will need to edit it. If you’re on an iPhone, you can use iMovie, which is also available on the Mac for free. If you’re on a PC, you can use Hitfilm, whish is also free. I like Adobe Premiere Elements for the PC because it’s easy to use and is affordable.

That’s about it! If you spend some time on each of these steps, I guarantee you will drastically improve your production skills. The challenges are not having a camera or knowing how to use it. The real challenge is overcoming fear and being part of a community that will keep you motivated. If you’re motivated, the rest will quickly and easily fall into place.  The other difference about our approach is that we don’t fixate on expensive gear or unattainable production values.  Our goal is to help food bloggers create videos that they can be proud of and quite frankly, make money either by building out their YT channels or by working with brands.

6 thoughts on “Getting Started Shooting Food Videos

  1. Reply
    Ally - January 13, 2016

    Thanks so much. As a foodie who knows I have to take this plunge you’ve given me great tips. The challenge is being a one person crew! Adjustments for sure! ~peace~ ally

    1. Reply
      Denise Woodward - January 13, 2016

      Ally, you can do it. We teach people so they can shoot on their own. Using a tripod makes it even easier.

  2. Reply
    Jenni - June 2, 2016

    I love the format and style of the first video. My favorite.

  3. Reply
    Fiona - September 28, 2016

    The first video isn’t showing… would love to see it

    1. Reply
      Lenny - September 28, 2016

      Hi Fiona, Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It has been fixed. Enjoy!

  4. Reply
    nancy - January 21, 2017

    thank you so much of sharing all these techniques, especially for the lightening part, it answers those questions in my head. Also the concept of A-roll & B-roll, it helps me to organize the storyboard. This page makes me feel motivated and wanna start making my food video right away.

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