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5 Amazing Ways to Improve Your Architectural Video

By lunamik / May 18, 2016

Behind every building, there’s an intriguing story. From the conceptualisation to the finished product, there’s a mountain of collaborative work that teams undergo to make their design are a reality. Exploring this process and the visual aesthetics that go into architecture is something that Lunamik has always been super passionate about. And due to the recent explosion in real estate and architectural videography, it seems that viewers are too. So without further a due, here are five killer ways to help improve your architectural videos when shooting.

Use Wide Lenses

Lunamik believes that the aim of shooting architectural video is to make the viewer feel as if they are walking through the space themselves. With this in mind, it’s within our best interest to try and immerse the viewer within the environment. A wide focal length will do just that, allowing for a more panoramic view. Wide angle lenses will also come in handy when trying to capture entire structures in the one frame as sometimes it won’t be possible to move far back enough to do so. Not to mention, that when you’re shooting indoors, certain spaces and rooms might simply be too tight for you to properly capture your desired frame. But with wide angle lenses, you’ll be able to cover a much greater field of vision in the one frame.

Side View of the Tokina Wide Lens

However, many wide angle lenses may from a barrel distortion to achieve their broad vision. This creates an unsightly looking fish-eye perspective that warps all four sides of the image. It’s advised that you recompose your shot with a higher focal length lens. But if you’re intent on shooting with wide angles, you will need to acquire a wide angle lens that shows little signs of barrelling. These can be a little on the expensive side, but one that’s highly recommended and discussed is Tokina 11-16m. Or if you want to go by the ‘fix it in post’ philosophy, then there are methods to remove barrel distortion in video editing programs like Adobe After Affects CC, but you will have to partially crop the image to achieve this.

Slow Down

While it’s important to keep your video engaging, don’t over stress about enhancing your visuals with sporadic movements and wild cuts. Viewers aren’t expecting an action film when they watch your video, so jam-packing your footage full of these effects will seem totally nonsensical and will end up working to your detriment. On the other hand, adding a small level of dynamic movement, like any forward, back and sideways movement will go very far in terms of keeping the viewer entertained and involved. Remember, you want to recreate a seamless experience as if the person were moving in the space, so when adding movement to your shots, think of how you’d move when you’re admiring a piece of art or architecture — it would usually be still or at a slow walking pace.

Understand the Elements of Design

When choosing how to frame your shot, you will want to consider the visual design elements that govern the structure.

— Line
— Colour
— Form and Shape
— Space
— Texture
— Value

There will almost always be a combination of these elements working together at any given point within the architecture, but it’s important to pick elements that stand out the most so you can better highlight them in your footage.

One such element that will play a major role in every structure is Line. Line is responsible for vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curved edges and will heavily dictate what we draw our attention to. Aligning your shots and your camera movement with the lines of the architecture is a great way to achieve a sense of balance and ‘oneness’ with the structure. You’ll find that if you move parallel to these edges or intersect with them, your shots will retain an interesting sense of geometry that complements the architecture.

Overhead Bridge

The trick is to identify what elements you want to emphasise, whether it’s the colour palette of the building, the overall form and shape that it takes, the use of breathable space between objects, the varying surface textures, or the changing light values, make sure that you pick a maximum of three to ensure that your shooting style is consistent throughout the video.

Understand the Architectural Intent

Similarly, it’s also important to keep in mind the purpose of the building that your filming. It’s easy to forget that buildings don’t come from thin air. They’re often a result of deliberate planning, careful consideration, and a lengthy construction process. So it’s important to ask yourself, why was it designed? What is it meant to achieve? Understanding the central values and original intent behind the construction will drastically help you when you’re thinking about framing your shot. If it’s a publicly used space such as a hospital or a library, you’re going to want to demonstrate how the structure promotes a culture of better health and improved learning, respectively. Or if a building’s main focus is on sustainability, you’d want to capture footage that champions the element of sustainable design. This could take form by showcasing the harmonious relationship between structure and nature, within the one frame.

Pick Your Time of Day

Most photographers and videographers will tell you to only shoot within this mystical time period named ‘golden hour’. Golden hour is a short window of time lasting an hour before the sun sets and half an under half an hour after sundown. Depending on which season you’re in, this time period will vary. In golden hour, the sun draws close to the horizon line, so in most circumstances, you won’t be receiving direct sunlight, but rather reflections from the sky, buildings etc. This reflective light is considered to be a softer kind of light, opposed to the harsh rays of the sun. This will make surfaces — especially flat surfaces of buildings appear a lot smoother and softer. Aside from this, sunsets can usually cast some amazingly warm oranges, pink and purple hues into the sky. Capturing colours like this in the background of your frame will give your footage a lot more punch. However, depending on what structure you’re filming, golden hour may not always yield the best results for what you’re after. Get to know your location and how it looks at different times of the day. It may be that you’re shooting a coastal beach front property and the early sunrise light really compliments its architecture. Or perhaps you’re shooting indoors, where light is scarce. Then, in that case, you’ll want to shoot when the day is at its brightest. This could be midday or the early afternoon.

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