Meet Our Authors: ShotHappens
Maxim Usmanov, aka ShotHappens, is a talented video creator in the Author community who creates captivating videos on Elements and Videohive.
From shooting real-life footage to building sets and shooting in a studio, ShotHappens is an inspiring creative who uses video to evoke emotions in people. We caught up with him to discuss his tips and tricks for creating high-quality diverse videos.
What’s your background and how did you get into video creation?
I was interested in video when I was a child, specifically with moving pictures. I used to draw short animations in notebooks and comics. Back then I didn’t have a camera so notebooks were found everywhere at home—now my goal is to digitize those notebooks.
I remember seeing a show on TV once about how Disney made their animated movies using multi-layered images and that impressed me a lot! Since then, the idea of creating motions has been deeply ingrained in my mind.
In university, we started making short social films that sparked interest, and that’s when I began to enter the video production industry. They were mostly music videos and commercials—I think my musical education helped me, especially my sense of rhythm, and culmination, in creating the drama of a music video).
At the same time, I started working with 3ds max (version 4.2) and I tried motion capture and tracking with Boujou in 2006. It was very cool! I was attracted to special effects because it allowed me to create my own world again, not just film an existing one. Over time, I realized that even when you’re just filming without special effects, you can still create your own world.
What do you love about working in video and why?
I love creating my own little world and being able to create a story from each set, each shot, props (if it’s a staged shot), lighting accents, composition, and every movement and emotion of the character. It evokes emotion in people and that’s how I know I’m doing my job.
What/who inspires your work?
Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look around. There is always a story, that can be told, the main thing is to do it in a way that is interesting to listen to or watch.
It’s not enough to just be talented, you have to learn and have a lot of experience because it’s a delicate balance between creating work that’s really interesting and just interesting.
My main source of inspiration is audience interest as movies are made for an audience.
How do you create high-quality videos? What expert tips/tricks/hacks can you share?
High video quality is the result of many factors. I once saw a meme about cinematic images—the left side shows the cinematic image, according to the videographer with the foreground and background blurred and LUT is teal and orange. The right side of the meme shows the real image from the movie, where everything is in focus and there is no stylization.
This speaks to the importance of working on details, especially the background. An empty or bland background will create a feeling that something is missing. People are used to seeing something happening in their field of vision, especially in the background, so this is important.
Of course, a good camera will provide more opportunities but before setting up the camera you have to set the scene. This includes people who know how to act naturally or “real” authentic people in their natural environment. This is what will make your video high quality, not the fact that you shoot it in 12k resolution.
Where’s the most exciting place you’ve seen your items/footage used?
I see my shots used all the time but the most exciting moment was when I first saw my footage on the National Geographic channel. It had been my goal from the beginning to see my shots on there. It was accidental, unexpected, and it was cool!
How has Envato helped your journey as a creator?
Envato has always provided opportunities that no one else has. This helped me initially grow financially and then raise the quality of my video production to a new level.
There is also high competition on Elements and competition always promotes quality growth. Envato contributes greatly to growth, but it is important not to forget that it is work, and most importantly it’s work that brings pleasure.
Either you rise higher, or you fall behind.
What makes you most excited as a creator online?
I feel like a painter when working with Envato. When an artist paints a picture, if he paints it well he earns a lot of money, if he paints it poorly, he doesn’t earn any money. This makes me strive to always do better.
Are there any video trends that you are loving at the moment?
I always like to shoot what’s in demand, usually something modern. I focus on the interaction of people and neural networks, the near future, and new methods of travel, business, and leisure.
My head is full of ideas but I understand that what’s in my head is often technically very difficult to shoot. I know that if I continue to work with Envato, then after some time, these opportunities will appear to me. The main thing is not to be late as trends are often very short-lived.
What main programs, tools, or techniques do you use to create your work?
The main programs I use are DaVinci Resolve, Adobe programs, and many auxiliary plugins for tracking, noise reduction, keying, and other things. Neural networks still can’t do what a real person can do, they can only help a little.
What are your top tips for creating stand-out videos?
To create truly outstanding videos, the most important thing is to understand what you are shooting. The better you understand the topic, the more reliable the result will be and the less effort will be needed.
Learn and work then you will inevitably grow. I have given myself time for learning and testing every week on my schedule.
Envato gives a lot of useful advice that is valuable even for very experienced creators.
Diversity is at the forefront of your videos. Why do you think this is important?
Diversity is key! Diversity means additional opportunities.
I shoot people in my pavilion, with very careful preparation. Tomorrow I will go to a real hospital to shoot how real surgeons perform heart surgery. A week ago, I was in the snowy mountains, where we filmed a village cut off from urban communications. Then I’ll go to a subject studio where I’ve been building a small cyberpunk city model for a month, installing lighting on the bridges.
This is all very different and I’m sure that it will find a response among consumers and perhaps give them new ideas for their projects. The most important thing is the opportunities to learn new things, think of new ideas, and shoot new things. The more we expand our knowledge and skills, the more creative ideas we have. Remember, everything starts with a small idea.
Feeling inspired by video creator, ShotHappens? Head over to Envato Elements and start creating today! Or, for more creative inspiration, check out some of our other Q&As with talented designer RetroBox and video whizz Videologio.