April 5, 2023

Our Beginner’s Guide to Cinematography

Welcome to our Beginner's Guide to Cinematography, where we'll take you from clueless to camera-ready in no time. Cinematography is the art of capturing visual images and telling a story through the camera lens. It means capturing a scene in a way that tells a story, evokes emotions, and creates a unique visual experience. If you're a content creator looking to up your game, or you're just a film enthusiast, then this guide is for you. In this post, we'll go over everything you need to know about framing, lighting, and camera movement for YouTube and TikTok videos, so let's dive in!

Need some cinematographic inspiration? Look no further than Freddie Wong, who was just a guest on Virtual Film School Canada’s “Ask an Influencer” webinar series. With two Netflix and one Hulu series in development, this is one busy guy who knows what he’s doing. If you're wondering how Freddie Wong brings the BOOM to his content, look no further than his use of cinematography.


First things first, let's talk about framing. It's the composition of the shot, or how the elements within the shot are arranged. It’s one of the most essential elements of cinematography. It's like a painter's canvas, and the camera is the brush. Proper framing can make a significant difference in how the audience perceives the story and the emotions it evokes. There are different types of framing techniques that you can use to tell your story.

When framing a shot for YouTube or TikTok, you want to keep in mind that the viewer is watching the video on a small screen. Therefore, it is crucial to use close-ups and medium shots to capture the subject's emotions and expressions. Wide shots are also essential, especially when you want to show the location or environment.

One of the most popular framing techniques used in social media filmmaking is the rule of thirds. This technique involves dividing the frame into three parts vertically and horizontally, creating nine equal parts. The subject should be positioned at the intersection of the lines to create a balanced and visually pleasing shot.

The second framing technique is the Dutch angle or tilted angle, where the camera is tilted to one side, creating a disorienting effect. This technique is often used in horror movies to create tension or in action scenes to create chaos.

Another essential framing technique is the use of leading lines. Leading lines are lines in the shot that lead the viewer's eye to the subject. It can be a road, a path, or any other object that creates a line that draws the viewer's attention. Leading lines can create a sense of depth and draw the viewer into the shot.

The third framing technique is the close-up, where you focus on a specific part of your subject, such as their face or hands. This technique is great for conveying emotions or emphasizing a particular detail.

That Freddie Wong dude knows how to frame a shot, light it up like the Fourth of July, and move that camera like it's on a mission. Trust me, his videos are like a masterclass in using cinematography to make your content pop! Freddie knows how to frame his shots in a way that draws you in and makes you feel like you're right there in the action.


Now let's move on to lighting. It's one of the most critical aspects of cinematography. It can create a mood, emphasize a subject, or add depth to a shot. Proper lighting can create a sense of realism, depth, and texture, while poor lighting can ruin the shot. The three main types of lighting are key, fill, and backlight.

Key lighting is the primary source of light in your shot. It's the brightest light and usually comes from the front or side of the subject. Fill lighting is used to fill in the shadows created by the key light, providing a more balanced look. Backlighting is placed behind the subject, creating a halo effect and separating the subject from the background.

When it comes to social media filmmaking, lighting can be challenging, as most videos are shot in natural light. However, there are still ways to control and manipulate natural light to create the desired effect. For example, you can shoot during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset, when the light is soft and warm.

Another way to manipulate natural light is by using reflectors and diffusers. Reflectors bounce light back onto the subject, creating a more balanced and even look. Diffusers, on the other hand, soften harsh sunlight and create a more flattering look.

For indoor shots, you can use artificial lights, such as softboxes and ring lights, to create the desired effect. Softboxes create soft and even light, while ring lights create a halo effect around the subject's face.

Oh boy, does Freddie Wong know how to use light to his advantage. Whether it's using shadows to create a sense of mystery or setting the mood with different colors, Freddie's got a knack for making his scenes look like they belong in a big-budget Hollywood flick.

Camera Movement

Now that we've covered framing and lighting let's talk about camera movement. This adds a cinematic feel to your shots and can create a sense of movement or action. There are different types of camera movements, such as panning, tilting, and tracking.

Panning is when the camera moves from left to right or vice versa. This technique is great for capturing a large space or following the movement of a subject.

Tilting is when the camera moves up or down. This technique is great for emphasizing the height or depth of a subject.

Tracking is when the camera follows the movement of the subject. This technique is often used in action scenes to create a sense of movement.

Now that you know the basics of cinematography, let's talk about how to apply these techniques to Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok videos, as well as short films.

Camera movement can greatly enhance the visual experience of a video. It can create a sense of motion, reveal new information, and highlight important elements in the scene. However, camera movement should be used sparingly and only when it adds value to the story.

One of the most popular camera movements used in social media filmmaking is the handheld camera. Handheld cameras create a sense of immediacy and intimacy, and they are perfect for vlogging and behind-the-scenes shots.

Another popular camera movement is the dolly shot. A dolly shot involves moving the camera towards or away from the subject while keeping the subject in focus. Dolly shots can create a sense of motion and reveal new information in the scene.

Don’t have a dolly? Don’t worry! You can use some household items like cars, rolling chairs, and your tripod.

Camera movement is another trick up Freddie Wong's sleeve. He knows how to use the camera to create tension, excitement, and drama. Whether it's a slow pan to reveal a new character or a quick zoom in for emphasis, Freddie knows how to make every shot count.

Putting It All Together

Now that you know the basics of framing, lighting, and movement, it's time to put it all together. Here are a few examples of some other YouTubers and TikTokers who are using creative cinematography to elevate their content:

Peter McKinnon is a Canadian YouTuber who creates content about photography and videography. His videos are known for their stunning visuals and creative cinematography, which often include dramatic camera movements and unique angles.

Zach King is a TikTok sensation known for his creative and visually engaging videos. His videos often include clever editing tricks and unique camera angles to create a sense of magic and wonder.

Casey Neistat is a filmmaker and YouTuber who is known for his unique style and creative cinematography. He often uses movement to create a sense of excitement and energy in his videos, and is a master of creating visually interesting shots.

When it comes to creating social media video content, you want to grab your audience's attention right away. A great way to do this is by using the rule of thirds framing technique to create a visually appealing image. You also want to make sure your lighting is on point, as this can make or break your video's quality. Finally, camera movement is key to keeping your audience engaged. Use panning and tracking to keep things interesting.

When it comes to short films, you have more time to tell your story, so you can play around with different framing techniques to create depth and mood. Lighting is still essential, but you can be more creative with it to set the tone of your film. Camera movement is also important, as it can help to tell your story visually.

So, there you have it, a beginner's guide to cinematography for YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and beyond. With these tips, you'll be able to take your videos to the next level and create content that stands out from the crowd. Don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with your videos. Who knows, you might just become the next Freddie Wong!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

phone-handsetpushpinclockchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram