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  • 1. Cathleen Khaaliq’s Video Handbook PRE-PRODUCTION CHECKLIST CABLES • Audio and Video (Analog and Digital) CAMERA FUNCTIONS • Operational Features PRODUCTION Camera Composition • Basic Shots • Basic Camera Movements • Basic Camera Angles CAMERA MOUNTS • Tripod • Yourself LIGHTING • Lighting Instruments • Lighting Techniques AUDIO • Microphones • Sound Aesthetics • Sound Recording GLOSSARY OF TERMS 1
  • 2. RCA /Composite Analog AUDIO AND VIDEO CABLES Firewire 4 pin to 6 pin Digital IEEE 1394 (Usually Macintosh) S-Video Cable (Audio and Video) Analog (Video only) BN XLR Cable for a C microphone (Audio only) Analog Firewire 4 pin to 4 pin Digital IEEE 1394 (Audio and Video) 3.5 mm Mini Plug (Audio only) Phono Plug Stereo (Audio only) BNC RCA Composite (Audio and Video) Analog Analog Yellow = Video (Visual) White= Audio (Sound L or R) CAMERA Red= Audio (Sound L or R) FUNCTIONS 2
  • 3. VCR/Camera Switch The VCR/Camera Switch allows you to switch back and forth between using your camcorder as a playback VCR. Photo Used for taking still photos. Batt Eject your battery S-Video Used to connect to TV/VCR/Computer DV Digital Video-Firewire port A.K.A. IEEE 1394 Mic Use as an External Microphone for recording AV Audio/Video terminals-used to transmit audio/ video to another source i.e. headphones, TV, etc. Open/Eject Tape Storage place used for inserting your mini cassette Open Open the LCD Panel Menu (camera mode) Camera Set up Digital Zoom: off, 72x, 360x Recording formats (wide screen)-on or off White Balance-auto, indoor, outdoor Image S. on or off Shutter-auto,1/60, 1/100…..1/2000 VCR Set up Record mode: Standard Play (SP) and Long Play (LP) Audio Set up Wind screen- on, off Audio mode- 16 bit, 12 bit Display Set up Brightness-select LCD mirror- on/off TV Screen- on/off Demo Mode- on/off 3
  • 4. System Button lights: on, off, push on Menu (VCR) Light color- choose WL. Remote-1, 2, off Beep- on/off Time zone/DST-see list of settings in manual Date/Time Setting VCR set up Record mode: SP and LP AV/Phones: Select AV-DV Out: On/Off Audio set up Output Channel- L/R, L/L, R/R Audio Dub: Audio in, Mic in Wind Screen: On/Off Audio mode: 16 bit, 12 bit Display set up Displays: On, Off, Playback 6 sec. Date: On, Off Data code: Date/Time, Camera data, cam. & D/T System same as when in camera mode My camera same as when in camera mode Selector Dial used to control the volume in VCR mode, used to select menu items on the menu screen (enter) Rec (+) Record search allows you to play back the tape to locate the point where you wish to begin recording in camera mode fast forward in VCR mode (-) Record review plays back the last few seconds of your recording in camera mode rewind in VCR mode Focus Used to adjust the focus of the Camera manually in camera mode used to play back/pause video in VCR mode 4
  • 5. AE Shift Auto Exposure function used to lighten or darken images in camera mode Zoom (W /T) When setting the Zoom, W is for wide and T is for telephoto. Auto Focus/ Manual Focus Most camcorders focus on objects automatically, no matter how far they might be from the lens. Tip: When using Manual Focus, zoom in to a close up on the subject, focus and then zoom out to a wide shot. All objects in the foreground will stay in focus. VHS VHS is the typical consumer videotape format. SVHS SVHS is the professional version of VHS. Requires higher-quality pictures. Hi-8 Format Hi-8 Format is a “super” 8mm format similar to SVHS, using the same high-quality processing Method that nearly doubles the resolution. Digital Tape Formats Several Digital Tape Formats have recently come into the mainstream video market. The advantage of digital tape is that near-perfect copies can be made from them. 5
  • 6. CAMERA COMPOSITION, SHOTS, AND ANGLES Composition/Framing Your Shots • Composition - There are many ways to compose a shot, depending on your goals. You want to be aware of what is in the shot and what isn't. Can you clearly see what you intend for the viewer to see? • Rule of Thirds - this classic rule suggests that the center of the camera's attention is one-third of the way down from the top of the shot. • Headroom - This refers to the space above the subject's head. You'll see different amounts of headroom, depending on the intent of the creator of the video. In general, if you're standing right in front of someone, you'll see that they have space all around them - they aren't cut off by a frame. By leaving headroom, or space beside them, you are imitating what you see in real life. • Talking/Walking Room - If you are interviewing someone or have video of someone talking, you generally do not want them looking directly at the camera (again, it depends on your goals - certain situations may call for that). Generally you want the person to be looking off to the left or right of the camera a bit. When you do this, frame your shot so that there is some talking room. That is, you want to leave some extra space in front of their face as if you were going to draw a dialogue box in for them. This space is "talking room." If the person is talking to another person, this shows space between them. Walking room, if the person in motion, gives them space to walk to. Talking/Walking Room leaves space in the shot for the action, whether it be words or movement. 6
  • 7. Camera Shots: • Wide shot (also known as Establishing Shot or Long Shot) This shot shows the whole scene. Frequently you'll see video pieces begin with a wide shot. It's helpful because it sets the stage. The viewer knows where he/she is. These shots are also good if there's a lot of movement. This might show a person from head to toe. • Medium Shot This shot shows less of a scene than the wide shot. The camera seems closer to the subject (although it may not be if you use your zoom lens). For example, if you were interviewing someone, this shot would show them from about the waist up in a medium shot. Use this when you want a closer look at your subject, or when you need to transition between wide shots and close up shots (it is difficult for the viewer to follow what you are doing if you go straight from a wide shot to a close up shot). • Close Up Shot This shot shows an even smaller part of the subject or scene. Great for showing detail, like a person's emotional face or individual leaves on a tree. If you were interviewing someone, this shot would show the person from the top of the chest or shoulders up. A • Extreme Close Up Shot is even closer than a Close Up. For example, it is just of the person's eyes, or of a bug gnawing on a leaf. • Over the Shoulder or Cutaway Shot. A Cutaway is usually a shot of the interviewer, who can be listening, nodding, or responding to the guest. This is used a lot in interviews to show the person who's asking the questions. It's called "over the shoulder" because the photographer is literally shooting video of the interviewer over the shoulder of the person being interviewed. (An over the shoulder shot is a type of cutaway). These are very useful when editing because it gives you an easy way to transition. • Two Shot/Three Shot - a two shot has two people in the frame. A three shot has three people in the frame. Because you have to be some distance from the people to get them all in the frame, this is usually a medium or wide shot. Other concepts for creating various camera shots: • Sequence - a term used in gathering video and editing. It refers to a series of related shots. For example, a sequence could be a wide shot of the Bay, followed by a medium shot of a few wind surfers, followed by a single wind surfer zipping through the water. • Length of shot - How long you show each shot depends on what's going on in the shot, and what you're trying to accomplish. If there's a lot of 7
  • 8. action or movement in a shot, you may use 20 seconds of it or more. If nothing is happening in the shot and you're showing a still scene, you may only use three seconds. When deciding how long to make a shot, keep in mind that your goal is to gain and hold the audience's attention and understanding. • Talking head - this refers to a full screen shot (usually medium or close up) of a person talking. Often a derogatory term "just a bunch of talking heads," meaning that it wasn't very interesting visually. Note: Be careful when setting up an interview to make sure that there is nothing in the background that might look odd. For example, if there is a tree in the background, be sure that it doesn't look like it's growing out of the subject's head. Shot Movement • Pan - A shot taken moving on a horizontal plane (from left to right, right to left). If you want to show a frisbee flying across a field, you might use this shot to follow the frisbee from one person to another. • Tilt - Camera movement in a vertical plane. (up or down) If you want to show a tall building but you can't get it all in your shot, you might start at the bottom of the building and go up to the top. • Zoom - This shot brings you closer to the subject. For example, from a Wide Shot to a Medium Shot or Close Shot. If you are looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, and you want to see individual people walking across it, you might zoom in. • Reverse Zoom - This shot moves you farther away from the subject. For example, from a Close up Shot to a Medium Shot or a Wide Shot. If you have a Close Up shot of a flower, and want to see the entire field that the flower is in, you can reverse zoom. Three notes about shot movement: 1. A note about photographer responsibility: you owe it to your viewers not to make them motion sick, unless, of course, that is your goal! Rapid pans, tilts, repeated zooms can make a person feel woozy, and may also prevent them from clearly seeing the video you collected. 2. The standard rule with moving shots is this: whenever possible, start your sequence stationary on a subject, then pan/tilt/zoom/reverse zoom, then hold stationary again. This helps enormously for editing purposes. For example, if you want to move your camera from one end of a mountain range to another, start while focused on one side of the mountain range and hold that shot for three seconds (stationary position), then pan to the other side (slowly enough so the video won't be a blur), then stay focused on the other end of the mountain range for three seconds (stationary position). If you edit or cut away in the middle of a pan/zoom/tilt/reverse zoom, you may make your viewer disoriented. 8
  • 9. In general, use shot movement(s) sparingly. Try to put a still shot (no pan, tilt, or zooming) in between two pans/tilts/zooms. This gives the viewer a moment to get their bearings. Shot Angles Your shot angle is the level from which you look at your subject. • Eye-level angle - One of the most commonly used shots is the eye-level shot. Why? Because it's the perspective most familiar to us - we usually see things from our own eye-level. This angle also causes the least discomfort because we're used to it. If you're shooting a person, make sure you shoot at their eye-level, not yours. • Low Angle - In this shot the camera looks up at the subject, making it seem important, powerful, or perhaps larger than it is to the viewer. For example, you might be sitting on the ground looking up at someone who is standing. • High Angle - In this shot the camera looks down on the subject, decreasing its importance. The subject looks smaller. It often gives the audience a sense of power, or the subject a sense of helplessness. In this case, you'd be higher than the other person (maybe they're sitting, or maybe you're standing on a desk) looking down on that person. 9
  • 10. CAMERA MOUNT • Tripod Operation o For the most stable shooting, your camera must be on a tripod. Make sure that you understand how to operate the tripod’s controls before using them. Adjusting the tripod without loosening the appropriate controls can result in permanent damage. • Camera Tilt Adjustment Control (up and down movement) The lever should move smoothly, but not be too loose. Experiment to get the feel, as each tripod is different. • Camera Panning Adjustment Control (left and right movement) As above, lever should operate smoothly, but not too loose. If you're chasing your subject or want to imitate an earthquake you probably won't use a tripod because you need to be moving. Or if you want to give the viewer the impression of walking or running, then you may not want to use a tripod. Basically, if you want a stable, smooth shot, use a tripod whenever possible. If you do not have a tripod, invent one. Your body is a natural tripod. You can also lean up against a tree or a wall or sit on a chair for stability. Proper set up - use a wide "footprint." You and I have two legs. Tripods have three. When our legs are several feet apart, creating a wide "footprint" you and I are more stable, harder to push over. It's the same for a tripod. The farther apart the legs are, the more stable it will be. Tripod Motion - when you use a tripod, you securely attach the camera to the top of it. The camera can now be moved in two ways - pan (side to side movement) or tilt (up and down). 10
  • 11. LIGHTING Television is a two-dimensional medium. The image projected on a TV screen has height and width, but not depth. Lighting techniques, therefore, are often used to create the illusion of three dimensions by combining placement with intensity of light sources. This section provides an outline of lighting basics that will give you suggestions for creating three-dimensional effects by dealing with shadows, too-bright, not enough light and uneven lighting. • Base lighting is flat or frontal lighting that gives overall brightness, but doesn’t help to create depth. A certain amount of base light in necessary for video image. Insufficient light will cause video to develop “video noise,” especially in darker areas of the picture. • Key lighting is the main light on the talent (usually a spotlight.) Lighting from a key is hard and highly directional. Used alone, it creates deep shadows on the opposite side of the talent’s face. • Fill lighting partially fills the shadows created by key light. This helps create a three-dimensional look. • Back lighting creates a “halo” around talent’s head and shoulders, helping the subject stand out from the background and increase three dimensionality • Bounce lighting uses reflective “flats” or light-colored ceilings and walls to reflect light on a subject. Bounce lighting can provide base light and is sometimes preferable to lighting the subject directly. • Diffusers soften the lighting effect to tone down hot lights and eliminate shadows. Photo umbrellas and specially manufactured diffuser paper are often used. • Gels are colored plastic materials that can be used to change light color. Gels are often used to crate colored “spills” on backgrounds to add visual interest by producing a multitude of effects. • Bounce boards are white or reflective surfaces (foil) that bounce overhead light into shadowy areas under the eyes, nose or chin of a subject. Bounce boards are very useful when shooting outside on sunny days. 11
  • 12. Lighting Tips: Tip 1: Avoid combining natural and artificial light sources because differences in color temperatures will result in tones, usually with an overly red or bluish tint. Tip 2: Many public buildings, schools and offices use fluorescent lighting that can either be daylight in color temperature (5400K) or incandescent color temperature (3200K) • Lights emitting a blue-white radiance are in the daylight range • Lights emitting a softer, yellowish radiance are in the range of incandescent lighting Tip 3: Do not place subject in front of a window for it will create a dark image and a shadow Flourescent lighting may flicker. If test footage indicates flickering light, turn off the fluorescents and light the scene with standard incandescents only or move to another location with a different type of lighting. REMEMBER: Be extra careful. Lights get extremely hot in a short period of time. Always use work gloves when working around light. 12
  • 13. AUDIO Even though television is primarily a visual medium, the audio portion of a program should not be overlooked. Many “once-in-a-lifetime” taping opportunities have been ruined when poor audio accompanies the video. Chapter 4 provides an outline of audio basics that will assure you of better audio quality. There are many different types of microphones available to the video producer. They include: Camcorder Microphones are built into most camcorders. Although the camera can zoom in on objects from across the room, the built-in mike is better suited to pick up sounds that are closest to it. Note: This is why using a camcorder’s microphone is not appropriate for videotaping a school play. If the camcorder is at the back of the room, it will pick up the audience much better than the action on stage. A better solution is to use an external microphone, such as a PZM (described below). External Microphones are plugged into the camcorder (in some cases, an adapter might be necessary): • General-purpose Microphones are all-purpose mikes ideal for placing on mike stands in front of speakers or singing groups. They may also be hand held for interviews or situations where you want to allow different subjects the chance to speak. • Lavaliere Microphones are small and easily attached to the clothing of the speaker, allowing both hands to be free for demonstration or comfort. The movement of the subject is restricted by the wire connected the audio switcher. • Wireless Microphones provide greater freedom of movement. These mikes are excellent for situations where a wire attached to the talent would be restrictive. Note: Wireless microphones use radio frequencies to transmit and receive sound. They come in two basic varieties: VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultrahigh frequency). UHF microphones are more expensive, but are much less susceptible to neighboring radio frequencies. VHF microphones are more prone to interference, especially the lower-cost models. When buying audio equipment, especially through consumer electronics stores, ask about their return policy. It’s often difficult to tell how well a piece of audio equipment will work without giving it a try first. Be sure to keep all cartons and wrappings and handle trial equipment carefully so that you may return items that do not suit your needs. 13
  • 14. Note: Microphones have a wide range of costs, depending on power and quality. Prices listed represent items recommended for school production purposes Microphone Selection You should be aware of the differences in “pickup patterns” when selecting a mike. Pickup patterns are areas around a microphone within which it can receive sound). It’s a good idea to have a least one of each type from the list below, depending upon the type of program you will be producing. • General-purpose mikes are reasonably priced and readily available on the market. The most common of these is the Dynamic mike, which is quite rugged and doesn’t require batteries. • Omni directional mikes have a 360-degree pickup radius (they capture sounds from all directions equally, and all sounds are given equal importance). “Omnis” are considered dynamic mikes. • Cardioid mikes have a semi-directional, heart-shaped pattern, which is wonderful for recording narration. The strongest pickup areas range up to about 170 degrees in front of the mike, but are diminished from behind. • Unidirectional mikes have a very narrow pickup radius. Mikes on cameras are unidirectional with a narrow pickup straight ahead. Sounds coming from the side or rear are not emphasized. Headphones Headphones are a necessity for good audio production. The camera operator, as well as an audio operator, can hear the audio quality white there’s still time to make corrections. If a headset source is at the camera, the operator can hear what is actually recorded on tape. Inexpensive, “Walkman” style headphones will work in most situations, though “cup” headsets ($15-$30) shut out the sound around the camera operator and make it easier to concentrate on the audio track. (Some types of headphones may require an adapter in order to connect to your camcorder). 14
  • 15. Key Terms: Audio Definitions Copyright: Government registry and protection of written or prerecorded works, such as books, recordings, videos and trademarks; use of copyrighted material in production without permission of the copyright holder is a felony. Decibel (db): Relative intensity level of sound; the term was adopted by the Bell labs in its early work with telephone voice levels. VU meters: show levels ranging from –10 db to +3 db. In between is “0” db. Use the VU meter to maintain db levels that break no more than 10% of the time into the plus db side above “0.” D light meters: Usually faster and more responsive than the dial VU meter. These usually have “0” at the top and require the operator to “RIDE” LEVELS AQT AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT 70% OF “0” DB. The best rule for setting audio levels is to maintain the highest level without distortion. Hertz (Hz): Frequency of sound waves; lower Hz indicates longer waves over a timed interval, hence lower pitches; high HZ (above 1000, often shown in Kilohertz or KHz) indicates shorter waves, hence higher pitches. The combined Hz, from low to high, is known as the spectrum of a specific sound. Radiated Frequencies (RF): Undesirable sounds and harmonics, usually from nearby radio transmitters, that creep into the audio system. 15
  • 16. Glossary of Terms, Concepts, & Advice Related to the Camera: • Camera Parts & Features - these are standard or basic features on a camera. Your camera may have different features. If you have any questions, please e-mail me. • View Finder - A small eyepiece or screen on the camera that allows you to see the image you're recording. (The camera also acts as a VCR, so you can play back and watch what you have already recorded through the viewfinder). • White Balance - If you ever ended up with yellow-tinted video, chances are you forgot to white balance. It's worthwhile to white balance every time you use your camera to get the highest quality video. If your camera doesn't have this feature, it may have an automatic or internal system. What white balancing does is adjust the intensity of the colors being recorded according to the existing light. Make sure you white balance every time the lighting conditions change; if you record video inside and then go outside; your lighting conditions have changed and you need to instruct the camera on how to "see" the colors. How do you white balance? You can place a piece of white paper under the light you will shoot under for reference - focus on the paper in the view finder, and press the "White Balance" button. Or you can focus on someone's white T-shirt (make sure it's all white). Or, your camera may have an automatic white balance setting you can use by simply adjusting a switch or pressing a button. • Battery - power source. Make certain you charge them! • Fade - a gradual increase or decrease of the image and sound. You can fade an image to black, or do the reverse. • Focus - There are two ways to focus - auto and manual. When you focus in "manual", you control the focus. To make sure your shots are in focus, zoom in and focus up close first, then zoom back. This insures that what you are shooting is focused to the greatest extent possible. Manual focus is good to use when there is a lot of movement of dominant figures. When the camera is in "auto focus" it will automatically focus on the dominant figure in the center of the viewfinder. Because it focuses automatically on the dominant figure, it will adjust to whatever becomes dominant. For example, if you are focused on a person several feet away, and someone walks in between the camera and the other person, the camera will adjust to focus on the new dominant figure - the person who walked in front of the camera. • High Shutter Speed - this feature, usually a button on your camera, allows you to capture objects that are moving at a high speed when you use this feature. • Boost (gain)(back light) - this increases light sensitivity for recording in dim conditions. Often results in "grainy" video. 16
  • 17. • Stand by - the equivalent of a "pause" button. This is often faster than "stop," because the camera does not have to completely restart the movement of the video tape. • Time Code - this is a number (could be seconds or frames) that helps you determine where scenes are located on a video tape. You will see this when you look through your view finder. You can use this, or the counter, when logging your tape and editing. • Frame - a single, complete video image that lasts 1/30th of a second. There are 30 frames in a second. If your camera or editing system can measure frames, you can use this as a counter to log your video tape. • Date/Clock - generally much easier than setting your VCR! This will show the date and time - sometimes the date and time will not only appear through the view finder, but also on the video (which you may not want). You can use it as a time reference for logging if your camera does not have time code - just turn it on and then off at the beginning of each shot, or let it stay on. • B-roll - this refers to certain video you collect. B-roll is any video that isn't the main action, that illustrates or shows examples. You might think of it as Background-roll. For example, if you are interviewing someone and they're talking about the Golden Gate Bridge, you might then show video of the Golden Gate Bridge (after they are talking, or while they are talking). This is called B-roll. (And no, there is no A-roll). Related to Editing There are two ways to edit analog video: • Assemble Edit - Used to copy an entire video, or pieces of a video, onto a new master videotape (one which does not already have a recorded signal or control track (black)). This process records the video and audio together as one signal (which cannot be divided) and combines them on to another tape. This is often used to make complete copies of programs. • Insert Edit - This process allows you to edit audio and video, separately or together, onto a master tape with control track (black). This process requires a master tape with control track. Terms and concepts related to editing: • Control Track (or "black") - An area on a video tape where magnetic impulses have been recorded. The magnetic impulses act like glue, holding down the new video you record there. This is necessary for insert editing, however may not be for assemble editing. • In Point (Inset Point) - The place on the tape where you want to start your edit. • Out Point (Outset Point) - The place on the tape where you want to finish your edit. 17
  • 18. • Natural Sound or Nat Sound - just that, natural sound you pick up through the camera microphone (versus sound captured through an interview mic). • Pre-roll - the amount of time (in frames or seconds) that it takes for the camera to start rolling before you are actually recording or editing. This allows the tape to come up to speed before the edit is made. How long is this? It varies by editing system - could be from 2 -10 seconds. • Voice Over - an off-camera narrator who puts their voice over the video. The purpose of the voice over is to describe what is happening on the video or provide information. • Master - the original version of your raw footage tape. An original edited tape is called an edited master. • Dub - To copy. You can "dub" or "double" a tape. If you copy or "dub" Tape B from Tape A, you have gone a "generation" of tape. That is to say, Tape B is not the original. If you copy Tape C from Tape B, you have gone down two generations in quality - it is a copy of a copy. In general, to get the highest quality copies, try to make all of your copies from Tape A, the master. • Cut - The instantaneous, direct switch from one picture to another. • Drop Out - video tape images and sound are recorded on magnetic oxide on the tape. A drop out is a place in the tape where the oxide is gone, so instead of video there will be a disturbance on the tape. Drop outs occur over time and their chances increase with the number of times the tape is used. That's why it's always a good idea to use good quality new tapes to record something important, and to only reuse a tape 2 or 3 times. • Monitor - A CRT (cathode ray tube) without a tuner (for receiving broadcast TV signals) that accepts video and/or audio signals; basically a TV that only accepts video from a source attached to it. The monitors are hooked up to VCRs. Miscellaneous Terms There are several ways to make a rough or general representation of your production before any video is gathered. The purpose of doing this is to help you plan what you need to gather to create your production. There are three types of this planning tool: 18
  • 19. • The Storyboard - usually a series of drawings depicting what you plan to do. See the Story Boarding Activity. • The Shot List - a list of shots you want to gather • The Script - a written description of the video and audio you want to get. • Check List - part of planning your video shoot is making sure you have everything you're going to need (cables, lights, microphone, video tape, tripod, camera, shot list, etc.). Test all equipment before you get out in the field. Better to replace a dead battery before you leave for a shoot, than have to cancel the shoot when you get there. • Talent - this often refers to the main person on the screen, such as a news anchor or an interview show host. • Talking head - this refers to a full screen shot (usually medium or close up) of a person talking. Often a derogatory term "just a bunch of talking heads," meaning that it wasn't very interesting visually. Note: Be careful when setting up an interview to make sure that there is nothing in the background that might look odd. For example, if there is a tree in the background, be sure that it doesn't look like it's growing out of the subject's head. • Tree full of owls - The crowd watching you work. Picture this - you're interviewing someone for a story. Behind that person are a bunch of people watching you interview this person. They are the owls. You're bound to run into this - people are attracted to video cameras. • Point of View - the perspective from which you are shooting. For example, you might be a neutral observer, recording events without taking sides. Or you could be omniscient, showing all points of view. Or perhaps personal, from one person's point of view. 19
  • 20. Check List Equipment Checklist ____ Camcorder ____ Camcorder case ____ Tripod ____ Battery (or batteries) - is it charged? ____ Battery charger ____ AC power adapter (that plugs into the wall from the camera) ____ Video tape (enough for your purposes) ____ Microphone (if you'll need one besides the one on the camera. If so, what kind?) ____ Extension cable for the microphone ____ Headphones (so you can listen to the video you gather and make sure it's ok) ____ Lights and necessary power cables ____ Extension cable (this will go from the AC power adapter to the outlet) The Equipment - • Check the tapes. Make sure you have the correct tape, and that it is rewound and labeled. Always take a back-up tape in case the first one is damaged or breaks. Generally, the better the quality of the tape, and the newer it is (hasn't been used over and over again) the higher quality video you will get. • Check the camera. Do a test recording and play it back to make sure the camera is working. • Check the audio - this requires earphones, which are plugged into the earphone jack. When you do your test recording, test the mics you plan to use. • Be sure you are using the right microphones for your shoot and see that they are placed close enough to your sound source to get good clear 20
  • 21. audio (4 - 6 inches away). Remember, for interviews, hand- held mics and lavalier mics are ideal. • Check the battery: For a remote shoot (away from electrical outlets), be sure to check your battery to see that it has a full charge. • Remember to bring your tripod, and to check that it works. The locking parts should lock in place (and also release from being locked). The tilt and pan should operate smoothly. Other preparation • If you'll be recording narration over the video while you shoot, you may want to practice what you'll say before the shoot. If you'll be conducting an interview, make a list of the questions and order them in a way that makes sense to you. • When you first arrive at the site, check for background noise and electrical outlets (where you can plug the camera in). Listen carefully to the sound around you because that is what your mics will hear. If you hear loud fans or traffic noise or voices, you may want to find a new location. At the shoot Setting up the camera • Set the camera up on the tripod (if you are using a tripod). • Check the White balance: use "auto" for most situations. Use the "indoor" setting when the source of light is entirely artificial. The outdoor setting should be used when shooting outdoors under natural sunlight. Re-white balance if your lighting conditions change - that is, if you start video taping outside and then go inside. • Check camera focus: Use auto focus for most situations. Use manual setting when there are objects in the foreground or background of your frame that will cause the camera to change focus. On auto focus remember that the camera will focus on whatever is dominant in the viewfinder. • Select the appropriate shutter speed (usually select normal). • Run a test record. Check the sound and video again. • Put the gain control on normal. • Be sure there's a tape in the camera. • Fast forward 30 seconds into the tape, and then start recording. Shooting 21
  • 22. • Consider whether or not you will need a release form - this form is written authorization signed by the person you video tape that says you can use the video tape of them, their business, their school project, etc. • For each scene you are shooting, you may want to create and use a shot list. This will list all or most of the shots you need to tell your story. • Allow the camera to record for five seconds before and after your shots (if you plan to edit later). This will give you areas to edit. Also, when you stop the camera, it may rewind a few seconds and tape over what you have just recorded. • Start with an establishing shot, and then vary your shots. If it is appropriate, use some wide shots, some medium shots, some close ups. • Visualize your shots before you shoot them. Think about your composition and purpose. (Where is my main subject in the frame? What am I trying to show? If I pan, do I have a reason?) • Periodically put on the headphones (if you don't wear them all the time) to check to make sure the audio is good. • Keep the length of the shot appropriate to the scene and your goal. The average visual attention span for a shot is about 3-5 seconds. However, if you're interviewing someone, your shot may last as long as the interview does. • Think about the angle you are shooting from. Most shots are recorded at eye level, however low and high angles may be right for your situation. • Think about the backgrounds in your shots. Does the background add to the picture? Is it distracting? • Observe the lighting in your shots. Generally you want the light to be coming from behind you, so that it shines on the person's face or on the action. Do not shoot directly into the sun - it may damage the camera. • If your shoot will last longer than one day, you want to be sure that your "talent" or interviewer wear the same clothes if s/he is going to be on camera again. Also, make sure you use the same equipment, so your shots and video quality will look the same. • Keep in mind that you are gathering shots to tell a story. Clean Up • Be sure to label all your tapes as soon as you take them out of the camera. • Put the equipment away. If you ran down the batteries, charge them for the next shoot. You want to do as much as you can to make sure the equipment is ready for the next crew to check out - it might be you. 22