Monday, February 22, 2010

Life of a Podcast: The Shoot

Occasionally a script calls for custom shooting by the Film/Video Archives crew. Sometimes simple, sometimes complex and creative, we always go through a similar preperation process.

Once the script is complete, the producer/director of the particular video sometimes compiles the precice shots they need by drafting a storyboard. Although the art may not be sophisticated, usually stick figures, they still perform the important job of establishing the composition of the shot. Together with arrows indication motion, the actors and cameraman will work together to replicate the layout and angle of each needed shot in the video.

Storyboard in hand, and actors in tow, it is time to collect the necessary equipment for the set. The most important piece of equipment, of course, being the BetaCam Video Camera. As good practice, the crew always packs at least an hour of tape more than expected needed for the shoot, just in case.

Next comes the heavy duty tripod. Our tripod has adjustable tension and locks for tilt and pan rotations. For less level ground, a ball-socket joint allows us to adjust the head of the tripod, with the aid of a light-up bubble level, even in the dark.

The next batch of equipment packed depends on the needs of the shoot. Is there audio? Will we need additional light? How much light? Will we be doing in-camera effects?

With the addition of Lappel mics, we are able to capture up to two different audio channels for our actors. Or, for even more actors or a noisy environment, a boom mic with a 10 foot extension wand can give us a more directional and selective range for our audio needs.

Lighting additions to the shooting kit gets a bit tricky. Although we have a full lighting kit complete with a multitude of lights, reflectors, and colored gels. We won't necessarily need the entire kit for the shoot. Again, it all depends on the needs for the shot. However, whenever we need light we always use the 3 point lighting rule-- Key light, your main source of light in the shot. Fill light, a smaller amount of light to fill the shadows cast on the subject by the main light. Back light, a minor, often obscured, light to provide emphasis on the background of the subject.

Finally, if lights are indeed needed, the last pieces of equipment needed are universal C-Stands and sandbags to weigh them down. C-Stands are one of our most usefull pieces of equipment both on and off the set. Not only do we use these in lighting setups to hold reflectors or shields, we also can use them as a steady Boom Mic rig, a balancing rig for our steady-cam, or even to hold various backdrop material.

One last check of the equipment list and producer, director, cameraman, and talent are off to the set. Ready to make video magic before the editor takes their turn...but that's for another entry.

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