eLearning Photo Shoots and Video Shoots
Incorporating your own custom photography and video into eLearning courses is made easy with the advent of high quality digital cameras and low cost gear including lighting, green screen backdrops, etc. However, achieving commercial grade high quality results requires planning and specific technical know-how. The image above is an example of 8 models who are part of the eLearning Network Modeling Agency who were photographed separately in front of green screens over a period of weeks and then combined in a single photo as if a group shot was taken. This article presents some high level recommendations to help you capture images at or above this level of quality.
Standard eLearning Photography Gear:
- Digital Camera: Use a high quality “pro-sumer” (between consumer and professional) digital camera. We like the Nikon D7000 kit available on Amazon.com for under $1,000 at the time this article was written.
- Lighting: At a minimum, purchase a 3 point lighting system including lights, stands, Softboxes, etc. These generally run under $200. Note that the light stands in this kit are fairly lightweight and break easily, so consider purchasing sturdier gear from your local photography store.
- Backdrop: Using a backdrop screen (green, black, white, etc.) makes it easier for you to isolate the person or object so you can later arrange various images into a single composition using Photoshop or other tool. Consider purchasing extra clips.
- Light Meter: We recommend that you use a commercial grade light meter as the built-in camera light meters are not as reliable.
- Lenses: Avoid using a zoom lens when possible and use high quality “prime” lenses as the glass tends to be superior.
- Lens Filters: Depending upon your lighting situation (florescent, for example) you may wish to use specific filters.
Tips & Tricks for eLearning Photo Shoots:
- Have a bottle of wrinkle releaser on hand to smooth out the backdrop fabric. Wrinkles in the background cast shadows and make removing the green screen out of the composition (Photoshop) difficult, and takes more time as a result. Allow time for the releaser to dry before you begin your shoot.
- Use a small (2’ x 3’) piece of clear Plexiglas for the talent to stand upon. If the model stands on the green screen fabric, which itself easily bunches and has wrinkles, these can sometimes cover the shoes slightly and require Photoshop editing to correct. The Plexiglas is a hard surface that you can use to provide a clear and smooth surface for the model to stand upon. You can also use the back edge of this glass to hold down and put additional pressure on the hanging backdrop to further remove wrinkles and put additional tension on the backdrop.
- Understand aperture, ISO, shutter speed, lighting, and other effects on depth of field. The depth of field refers to how much of an area around your subject is in focus. Let’s say you have a model pointing at the camera. If your depth of field is not correct, the finger may be in focus and the face out of focus or vice versa. Obtaining a generous depth of field can be tricky and is affected by various factors including the distance between the camera and the subject, the amount of light you have (the more light the better), the type of lens you are using, etc.
- Have the talent stand as far away from the backdrop as you can. This will make it easier to cut out the backdrop, which ideally would also be out of focus, smooth, and one consistent color.
- Understand the 3-point lighting system and be sure the subject is illuminated properly.
- Have all models sign a release form. If you do not have a release form, join the eLearning Network™ and we’ll gladly provide you with one.
- Send your models a “preparation checklist” that includes things like: Don’t smoke or drink wine the night before; Don’t wear green or other colors similar to the background you will use; Drink plenty of water the two days leading up to the shoot; cover any tattoos; and many more tips. If you do not have a preparation checklist for models, join the eLearning Network and we’ll gladly provide that for you.
Before: Green Screen | After: Photoshop touch-up and green screen removal
Do you have other recommendations and tips you would like to add? Sign-in and comment below! Capturing high quality images requires professional know-how, so we recommend hiring a professional photographer and modeling agency if your budget permits. The eLearning Network™ also provides full-service custom photography services so feel free to contact us if you would like assistance on your next project. Ask about custom eLearning photo shoots using models from the eLearning Network Agency.