Top 3 Ways to Approach Newborn Fusion
Something new for me and hopefully for you is newborn video fusion. Newborn slideshows are the norm. Here, I’ll show you how to add fusion and offer something different from your competition.
Before your first newborn shoot, you should observe and assist an experienced newborn shooter. Working with newborns on location has many working parts. For this shoot, I teamed up with the photo newborn experts from Ashlephoto. The baby subject was my two-week-old daughter, Sloan Switzer.
For very few of your shoots can you just show up with your camera and start filming. The good news is that this is the exact shoot for that mindset. You are generally letting the photographer do all the preparation. Your only focus should be video, so you won’t need to worry about the items that the Ashlephoto team has to. They brought a full carload of goodies that included blankets, a portable heater, pillows, props, a jambox, a reflector, stands, and their real secret sauce: a John Mayer playlist on their iPhone.
How are you supposed to prepare? You start by arriving 30 minutes to an hour before the shoot. This allows you time to get all your establishing shots finished without any unnecessary conversations or distractions. Most photographers plan for one to four hours for each newborn shoot because they know they are at the mercy of a newborn, so planning on a lot of time is a must. You can lose lots of time if Mom is nursing, you have a crying baby or a newborn that just won’t go to sleep. You won’t be shooting for all four hours. You will have a lot of downtime, but make sure when the baby is ready, you are ready to go. You don’t know if you will have a few minutes or a few hours, so make sure you are prepared to capture the moments. Stay as long as the photographer does, and be extremely patient.
Is the photographer or filmmaker in charge of the workflow? The photographer is. Collaboration with a team of creative minds can enhance a shoot, but for this, the photographer is in charge. Video is secondary in these situations, so don’t fight it. Embrace it. You want to be best friends with the photographer because you will be using a few of her photos for the final edit. Remember that the photographer is doing all the preparation and bringing the poses and props so you can focus on filming the day.
When shooting video, I’m always looking for the action of the subjects. Most of the films we produce capture the motion of moments happening. With a newborn, this is different. You don’t have a lot happening besides a baby crying or sleeping with little or no movement. So what should you shoot video of, and how?
First, you’ll need a monopod and track. The majority of the time, I recommend a monopod because it is quicker and gives more variety on the go. The most interesting video clips were photographers working, baby Switzer getting her outfits on, Mom interacting, detail close-ups and behind-the-scenes.
To produce a newborn fusion film you’re proud of, you must have enough video content to work with. Make sure you are filming everything you possibly can, and have the camera in your hands at all times ready to record. You will need all the video clips you can capture to make this video interesting and relevant. The photographer and her assistant have a lot going on setting up the scene, helping baby stay calm, lighting and camera settings. While all that is going on is your chance to capture real moments of some preparation shots.
Here are 10 shot ideas to get you started.
#1 – Empty crib and detail shots. Film any of the accessories and fun props that Mom purchased for the shoot.
#2 – Film mom and baby when you can. Mom getting baby its first outfit on or bottle feeding are two examples.
#3 – Establishing shots of home.
#4 – Photographer setting up the room with the photo props.
#5 – Photographer’s assistant working with baby on the pose.
#6 – Parent reactions.
#7 – Photographer working.
#8 – Wide shots of the entire scene when the photos are being taken.
#9 – Close-ups of baby’s feet, eyes, hands, hair and lips.
#10 – Photographer’s finished pose.
You can edit your project with Animoto, Final Cut Pro or iMovie, just to name a few. For this edit, I used Final Cut Pro because I’m comfortable with the program and have used it exclusively for about a decade. You just want the ability to have both photos and video in your final edit. The length of the edit needs to be as short as possible. Final running time should be a couple of minutes. Nobody on Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo is going to watch a 10-minute baby fusion video, no matter how cute the kid is.
Keep the song short, and choose the right one. Take the time to choose something that really matches the moments that are happening in your film. The music provides the feeling that will carry your video. A good rule of thumb is to keep your edited video clips and photos around the one- to three-second range. Make sure you get the photographer’s best 10 to 20 edited shots to choose from. Use any special effects you want, but I like to keep it simple and just use fade transitions. Other editors make photos come to life with a slight movement of a pan and zoom that’s called the “Ken Burns” effect.
With photos and video shots, your short film has transformed into something much more impactful than any slideshow. Make sure to credit and give thanks to the photography team you worked with. It’s their creative posing skills that you’re feeding off of. Tag them, use their logo in the photos and promote their brand.
This is a completely different workflow than a corporate video shoot or a wedding. The purpose of a newborn fusion video is to give your audience a look into what that day was like. The newborn phase is over in a flash, and the video is how they will remember these precious moments.
Start posting those videos, and more business will start coming your way. You will get referrals from both the client and the photographer as the video gets hundreds or even thousands of views. Photographers in your market will be fighting over you because they want a video to share that shows off their work as well. You are creating incredible value for the client, the photographer and your company.