Varying Your Video: Brandon Li Shows Us How

In this video, Brandon Li shows us how he gets the various shots he takes when documenting an area in a city as a travel photographer. He's in Seoul, Korea, and shoots the market.

What I realized from watching this video, is that you need to take a variety of shots, to give the video context. And although Brandon is an experienced filmmaker, it might be a good idea to use a list of some sort to make sure you are shooting for the edit, and that you have an idea of what you want to capture before the day of the shoot. Brandon has an arsenal of lenses he uses for the various shots, so here we can take a look at each in more detail:


16-35mm lens:

This is a wide-angle lens and is best for composing angles, corners and lines in the frame that lead the eye. It is a lens that gives the viewer an idea of where it is in the world and what it must be like to be there. The lens can be used for closer shots, but it means that you'll have to get really close to the person, which obviously causes a different reaction than a shot from further away. You will also see some distortion, especially with faces, due to it being a wide-angle lens. 

55mm or 50mm lens:

The nifty 50mm is a lens that is regarded as the best lens to firstly learn how to compose and frame a shot, and secondly, it's a great portraiture lens which allows you to tighten your composition of the person your filming without actually having to be up close to them physically. A 50mm lens also doesn't have the distortion that a wide-angle has. These lenses are usually faster with larger apertures which allows you to change the depth of field and get some bokeh in your video. 

It's important to note that the lenses are designed according to a full frame camera. So when you're shooting with an APSC like Brandon often does, or with a smaller sensor, you will not have the same effect that the same lens would have on a full-frame sensor. 

A Potential Product?

I'm always looking for more ideas and ways to improve the workflow and noticed he uses his phone as a viewfinder when he's using the gimbal on the monopod. I think it might be a good idea for a photographic gear company to create a mount for a phone or monitor that can clip or tighten around the monopod. 


I like Brandon's way of shooting and how he uses the gimbal and monopod to get the shots from above. When I shoot these types of videos, I add a 100mm lens to shoot some macro video too, which adds textures and details people don't usually see with the naked eye. 

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I just got a gimbal and using it with my monopod as a makeshift jib was part of the plan. As to the mounting of the phone to the monopod, I am thinking that I'm going to use a gopro attachment with a phone mount. No need to buy a special product for that.

He would be arrested if he used that rig over people in the US

16mm Camera's picture

Li does great stuff. His articulation and explanations offer a lot of quality info.