After bingeing many of his videos, here are my main takeaways to film like Daniel Schiffer.
I remember the first time I watched a Daniel Schiffer video and was just blown away. The first video I saw was actually his video on how he films epic handheld b roll which is linked below.
After that, I became hooked. I binged all of his videos, watched every behind the scenes video I could find, and began to try to figure out what exactly makes a video a Daniel Schiffer video. He does so many things right and here are some main takeaways that I have extracted from watching the BROLL king and tips that I think can help everyone elevate their filmmaking too.
Plan, Try, Adjust, Repeat
After watching a number of Daniel’s videos, one of the coolest things I noticed was how he is improvising on set as he is shooting. Many times, he will go in with a rough idea of the movements he wants to do but will try a number of different things out before he lands on the final version. Also, because he focuses most of his work on 15-30 second clips, there are times when he even brings his laptop on set to import and look at the edit before moving on to the next shot.
One struggle I personally have had is the difficult balance of going into a shoot knowing exactly what you want to do as well as adjusting for new creative options that spontaneously come up. Daniel strikes the perfect balance of this as it seems he goes in with sometimes a general or very solid direction while still being confident in his ability to improvise and come up with something new.
Come to the shoot with a plan but also give yourself the freedom to adapt on set. If time allows, consider even bringing a laptop to check the flow of the edit before leaving the shoot.
Shoot It Over and Over Until It’s Perfect
There are many moments in Schiffer’s work when you are just amazed at what he is able to pull off. He has an extremely creative eye with a knack for smooth transitions that is only further amplified by his perfectionist mindset as a shooter. When he has an idea for a specific shot, like trying to have pizza dough spin and land on his camera, he will go above and beyond to keep shooting until it is exactly how he wants it. He will try over and over until he gets that “Dude Perfect” shot that makes the patience worth it.
On shoots with friends or client shoots, doing things like this can take time and not everyone is willing or able to wait that long. One helpful tip I’ve found is setting expectations or asking if they are up for continuing to try to get this amazing shot. Even setting a time frame, like giving it an additional 10 minutes of effort, is enough to set an expectation and giving the idea a solid try. Though, remember to have a back-up shot in place in case the one that requires a bit of luck doesn’t pan out.
Be willing to work hard for the shots that others would otherwise settle on. Chances are, the harder the shot is to capture, the cooler and more unique it is.
Sound It Out As You Go
My favorite thing about a Daniel Schiffer video is the audio. Hands-down. I could listen to a Daniel Schiffer 30 second advertisement and enjoy it as much if not more than if I could only see the video with no audio. The attention to detail Daniel has for the music and sound design for his videos is incredible and something that I aim to be more intentional on having seen how effective his videos are because of it.
One nugget I extracted after watching many of his videos is that he sometimes chooses the music before the shoot, which was interesting to me. By choosing the music beforehand, you can get a better grasp of how the timing may work with the shots, allowing the pacing to ramp up and down according to the choice of music. If you are like me, chances are you capture all the footage for a shoot and then spend hours clicking through tracks only to find one that sort of works. Try flipping the script and choosing the music first and then going on a shoot.
Be more intentional with your music and sound design by making it a primary focus when shooting. If appropriate, choose music beforehand rather than afterward.
Creativity is More Important Than Gear
When I first ran into Daniel’s work, I pegged him as the handheld BROLL king. After further bingeing of his content and seeing his work with the gimbal, I was convinced he was the handheld AND gimbal king. And then, he just had to go and show his Schiffer flair by only using a tripod.
Yet, somehow, all his videos still feel like a Daniel Schiffer video. Why is that? I think the main reasons are the ones I have outlined above are ingredients to the main Daniel Schiffer recipe, but I think an important mindset to keep is that an individual’s creativity is more important than the gear you have access to. Yes, it would be nice to have that shiny new light, slider, or gimbal (yes, I’m human and get gear-crazy at times, too).
But, ask yourself: could Daniel Schiffer make something great with what you have laying around?
Believe in yourself and your own creativity to make something great with what you already have. Chances are, you already have everything you need, skill-wise and gear-wise, to pull off the shot in your end. Get creative and make it happen!
With that being said, if you were curious, Daniel’s current camera of choice is the Sony A7siii.
Final Thoughts on the Tips Extracted from Daniel Schiffer
I admire so many creators for different reasons and I wanted to put into words some observations I’ve made specifically from Daniel Schiffer. He’s a great creator that not only makes incredible content but shows you, step-by-step, how he executes the different shots. If you are looking for inspiration or even a how-to guide on how to be like Daniel Schiffer, be sure to check out his YouTube channel.
I would be the first in line if Daniel Schiffer released an online course. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that is in the works just yet. In the meantime, a great course to learn techniques similar to Daniel’s is the Seamless Video Pro course. You can check that out by clicking the button below.
I hope you enjoyed my notes from watching his videos and wish you the best on your video-making journey!