I’ve recently wondered how artists make their miniature painting videos for YouTube. What kind of equipment do they use? Where do they place their camera? And, how do they frame their shots?
All of these questions…but very little written instruction out there on where to start.
As someone who learns best by-doing, I decided to just dive in!
I already own a decent camera for still-life photography. I purchased it a while back to improve my studio work for miniatures (and for some freelance real estate gigs), but never cared to mess with the “movie” mode.
The purpose of this video was to 1) see if I could capture good, sharp footage to show the granular aspects of painting with close-ups, and 2) determine how much time I would need to invest in creating these videos on a regular basis.
The 2 minute video is at the bottom of this article.
I borrowed some of the main equipment for this project. Specifically, I think any camera that can capture 1080p or 4k at 30-60fps with a high bit-rate (>30M) would be fine for what I was able to do.
- Sony mirrorless camera
- 55mm prime lens
- iPhone (wireless tethering) as an external monitor
- Joby Gorillapod 5k with quick-release ball mount
- iMovie application (free) on an iMac
I knew I wanted to shoot high-resolution footage, and ended up going with 4K video (30 fps). I was a little concerned with the limited battery life of the camera and having enough memory.
To ensure I had enough resources, I made sure that I turned off recording when I didn’t think it was necessary. This was a bit disruptive to my usual painting flow, but when you have a lens dangling by your head… you’re already in a different situation. I worked with it.
I’m not a video expert, but I think I kept the bit-rate high enough to get good enough color and digital information that I could have edited more aggressively (with better software).
As it was, I used “iMovie” which is a free application that comes with every Apple iMac. My options for editing white-balance, color, and contrast were already very limited.
But, I wanted to future proof myself, so 4K it was.
As I mentioned, I used iMovie.
I had about 20 minutes of “test” footage, which I lined up in the timeline. I cut out about 19 minutes of this video (because most of it wasn’t very good), added text captions, and exported in 1080p (a format that is good for YouTube).
Because I was shooting in 4K, I had the resolution to crop into some of the video and still maintain sharpness and quality. The 30fps was okay for slow-motion effects, but I wish I had a camera that could have captured at 60fps to smooth these transitions out. But, it’s either slow motion or sharp resolution, not both with my equipment.
I did not add any voice-over work. Audio is another level of work to edit or lay-out properly on video. I also think to really do it properly, an external microphone of some sort that isn’t built-into the monitor would be needed.
I think the video came out well. I learned a lot. It took about 2 hours for me to edit the raw 20 minutes of footage down to its 2 minute runtime.
Really, that means that this video-side of the hobby is a totally new and huge time investment if I wanted to do this on any regular basis. That, and I have no voiceover work on this film.
I expect it would take a lot more time to get more detailed tutorials out in video format.
I guess only time will tell if I am going to add this to my list of hobby things I want to do. For now, perhaps I’ll keep making these videos only for the topics and things that the film media would work best for, and only if similar videos don’t exist.
There are already a lot of great painting videos on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy the video. Learning all these peripheral aspects of the miniature painting hobby has been fun and exciting.
Here’s the video (~2 min runtime)