Monday, November 16, 2015

Filmmaking System

Note - it should be obvious, but everything I write in these Filmmaking System posts is specifically about my situation and my cameras. It's not meant to be general advice for anyone who's trying to learn filmmaking, although I'm sure some of it will apply fairly universally.

  • Keep the Leatherman on your belt with the big flat screwdriver open all the time - unless you have a quarter in your pocket to tighten and loosen screws on quick release plates and swivel heads etc. 
  • If you're using a microphone mounted on the camera, turn it around when you're standing behind the camera and talking.
  • Record some room ambience to plug in to shots that need it.
  • A monopod makes a pretty serviceable steadicam if you attach something heavy like a superclamp to the bottom of it. 
  • replace room lights with daylight balanced bulbs - then it will match daylight coming in through windows and make white balancing much easier, plus lamps won't have a weird yellow or red color in the finished film.
  • If you do a custom white balance each time you move into new lighting situations (sun disappears, different room or whatever) then it makes it almost unnecessary to color correct later, saving loads of time on tweaking and rendering.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Filmmaking System WARNING: (If your battery dies)

  • If your battery dies (makes a quiet sound like a truck backing up somewhere in the middle distance) remove the memory card and download it to the computer!! Otherwise when you put in a new battery it acts just like popping the battery out and replacing it (covered in an earlier entry about the screen warning Cannot Record - File Number Exceeded) - it erases the card!!! Though strangely, if there are any leftover clips that were already logged and transferred (in other words if you forgot to format the card when you put it back in) those won't be erased. Weird, aint it? The ones you don't need anymore are protected for some reason, but the ones you do need get wiped out.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Filmmaking System part 3 - more notes from experience

  1. Record each take separately, don't get long clips that need to be cut up later. This way you don't forget to focus for each new setup, and you don't feel rushed while doing new setups because the camera is still recording.
  2. Use AF Single, not AF Continual. In Single it focuses instantly and beeps, in Continual it shifts back and forth and never quite finds focus or beeps and you can't depend on it to focus during filming. 
  3. If you're going to be starting a shot with an 'empty stage' and moving something into frame, place it where it needs to end up, focus on it, then move it out of shot and start filming.
  4. Best to use infinity focus for most shots, except when you want a shallow depth of field for special impact. If you're a one man crew this saves a lot of headaches. 
  5. When the screen says "Cannot Record - File Limit Exceeded" it really means it - you can override the warning by popping the battery out and back in, but that erases the card and all previous shots are lost forever. 
  6. If you move into a new location with different lighting, re-set white balance. The Color Checker card's white rectangle is big enough to use for setting a custom white balance, which is necessary if you have a mix of daylight and indoor lighting.
  7. Switch off phones when shooting or they will start ringing and ruin your best shot. Maybe hang a "Filming in progress, please don't disturb" sign on the door, but I doubt it would stop anyone from knocking anyway.
  8. Only have your current project open in Final Cut or whatever footage you log and transfer will end up in the wrong one and you'll need to copy/paste it in.
  9. Find an interesting and quick way to do things - don't record a lot of bland footage of ordinary stuff nobody wants to see. It needs to catch the eye and fascinate, like a magic trick.
  10. Do more with less. Stage in depth (Citizen Kane style, but I don't need deep focus, I sorta dig the shallow focus). This way you can show several things in the same frame, rather than having to cut together different clips. Reduces camera setups and editing. 

Concerning cooking shots:

  • Trying to move the camera around to get a montage, you're either going to end up with a good meal or a good shot - pretty hard to get both. Especially if you have multiple burners going at once. 
  • You can concentrate more on the cooking if you get the whole thing in one wide shot. Using 2 cameras can allow for some cutting back and forth between A and B rolls.