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A guide to teaching kids how to use a camera for filmmaking projects

Providing children a basic idea of how a camera works guides them in handling and holding cameras properly.

This can help them when they are working on school projects, chronicling travels and vacations, and documenting various occasions with family and friends. As something that can boost creativity, some kids may even find such serious interest in videography and filmmaking that they can start shooting their own home movies at a young age.

Basic Parts of a Camera

Break down the key parts of a camera and provide information on how they work using simple examples and descriptions. These include the: on-off switch; camera mode selections for viewing and playback of footage; Record/Stop button; zoom button; preview and scroll buttons; camera grip; menu buttons; the camera lens (where light passes through to create the image inside the camera); and LCD screen, which displays menu particulars such as available memory space, battery, and other important details about camera operation.

Camera Safety

Extra care is important when holding any camera. Remind children that, like any other electronic device, a camera is vulnerable to serious damage when not held properly. In film school, we were even taught to treat a camera like a baby. Cameras typically have wrist or neck straps attached to them. To avoid a dreaded fall, especially when losing grip of the camera, wrap the strap around the wrist when shooting. For neck straps, either wear it or use it similar to a wrist strap by winding the strap around the wrist. Making this a habit helps protect the camera from accidental falls.

Camera Handling

One of the basic problems amateur users are very much prone to when shooting video is that they tend to move the camera too much. Since a camera’s LCD screen is small, dizzying shots only become more apparent when already viewing the footage on the computer or TV screen.

Remind kids to minimize movements and camera shake by supporting the camera with both hands for handheld shots. Also, teach them how to place and lock the camera on a tripod or monopod to help stabilize their shots.

As a basic guide for handheld shooting, right-handed individuals should remember that the right hand mainly carries the weight of the camera and also supports its top and right parts. Meanwhile, the left hand is used to support the lower and left parts of the camera. The same concept applies to left-handed people. Although a lighter camera makes it possible to operate with a single hand, supporting it with the other hand helps prevent unintentional shakes and unstable movements.

Framing and Shooting

Teach kids how to frame their shots. Using the camera’s LCD screen or viewfinder, help them look for points of interest based on the location where they are shooting. Tell them they can experiment and know by themselves how different lighting conditions and camera angles affect the look of the videos they shoot.

Inform them that shooting in low light can cause blurred or unclear videos. Shooting against or behind a strong light source will make their main subject look too dark. Also, provide them examples on how varying camera movements and shot distances affect the mood and feel of their videos. Later on, when they are ready for more a bit more complicated technical concepts, explain how using different lenses affect aesthetics and storytelling.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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