Watch & Learn From The Professionals With Vimeo’s Video School [Stuff to Watch]

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YouTube is indisputably the world’s biggest video sharing site but for many, Vimeo is where the comments and critique really matter. Not only a place to showcase your artwork, Vimeo also has a passionate community full of indie filmmakers, experimental artists and those with a penchant for the moving image.

This makes it an incredibly creative and helpful community, complete with a Video School section which provides a complete learning experience for the wannabe filmmaker. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo provides the whole package; a place to share, discuss and learn, complete with contests to sharpen your skills and prove your worth.

In this slightly different to usual Stuff to Watch weekly article, we’ll be taking a look at some useful tutorials and guides that can help you get started with shooting, editing and rendering your video projects with a professional twist.

The Basics

Everyone must start somewhere, and that’s why Vimeo’s first few lessons begin with the very basics – which camera to buy, how to hold it and what to do with the footage once you’ve done some shooting. Don’t think you need additional expensive equipment either, I’ve already produced a series of articles about using the iPhone as a professional-level camera.

The first video gives you the lowdown (along with some clear-as-day side-by-side examples) of choosing a dedicated video camera or your iPhone (a device not to be underestimated), the next shows you the basics when it comes to using it. Even if you think you know the basics these videos are entertaining enough to watch anyway (and you might learn something).

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The final basic lesson is an introduction to editing, with the usual comedic overtones and plenty of good sound advice for first-time filmmakers. These tips might seem basic, but they provide a decent overview of the editing process regardless of the software used.

At this point there’s bound to be a split between Windows and Mac users using free software, and thankfully there are two videos geared towards these users, so learn more about editing with iMovie on a Mac or with Windows Live Movie Maker on a PC, and try not to argue about it!

More Lessons

Beyond the basics there are a lot of things to master, depending on what you want to shoot and what you’re going to be using. Digital SLRs offer a fairly affordable way of shooting crisp, professional video but there’s a lot of info to absorb. The video below goes some way toward explaining the benefits of using a DSLR as well as a few other things to be aware of.

Not everyone is lucky enough to own a DSLR that shoots video, and so for the rest of us a modern smartphone is the only option. If you want usable footage (file quality is not the limiting factor here) you will need to remember a few basic principles and maybe an app or two to capture the moment.

If you’re the lucky owner of a DSLR (yes, even one that doesn’t shoot video) then you can use it take make very high resolution time-lapse videos. By using still images, the resulting sequence will be way higher in resolution than comparable video that has been sped up. Newer DSLRs even have time-lapse (interval shooting) modes, plus you can do this on your smartphone with an app too!

Whether you’re shooting with a top-end camcorder, feisty DSLR or a small-but-mighty point and shoot, a steady shot that doesn’t look like a scene out of Cloverfield will probably require a tripod. If you’re completely new to the world of tripods then the video below will teach you the basics.

There’s more to tripods than pans, tilts and base plates, and the video below introduces some other tricks you can use out in the field to improve your videos.

If you are shooting on a DSLR then it might help to learn a thing or two about lenses, quite possibly the most important piece of equipment standing between you and your shot. There are three, in-depth tutorials with examples of what different focal lengths achieve, the first lesson is embedded below. Click here for part 2 and here for part 3.

For the complete listing of videos head over to the Vimeo Video School. There you’ll find Vimeo staff videos, lessons from professionals and insight into productions great and small.=

Screening, Festivals & Contests

In case you need an excuse to go out and create your very own film (or perhaps you’re someone who thrives when faced with a challenge), you should check out the Vimeo Forums – specifically the Festivals and Contests board. This is where you will find calls for video submissions into local, national or global competitions, contests and film festivals that might just inspire you enough to win something.

If you’ve simply made something, or are looking for further inspiration from other filmmakers then the Screening Room forum is a great place to find like-minded individuals, constructive criticism and other projects you might want to contribute to. Remember Vimeo’s strength lies in its dedicated community, many of whom are professionals, so use it!

Do you use Vimeo? Have you made any films? Do you find these videos helpful? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.

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