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Panasonic DV / MX / GS series Assistant
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Old April 6th, 2003, 07:49 PM   #1
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MX cam tips thread

PREPARATION

Charge you batteries. For shooting indoors bring an extension cord just in case you can use regular power. A surge protector may also be a good idea. Make a complete list of what you need, then collect everything on that list and put it in your bag. Don't forget extra tapes, a cleaning tape and something to clean the lens and filters. The 2 most important filters are a UV, which you leave on, and a polarizer. Take the UV off when you want to use a polarizer. Stacking filters is not good practice. A softening filter and a ND are also handy. Always bring your manual, you may have to check up on something; and this can eliminate potential guess work in the field. You never know! Double check everything. What are you missing? What else might you need? Bring your tripod, even if you think you won't need it---get into the habit of using a tripod. Even a cheap tripod is better than no tripod. One final thing, store your items in zip-lock bags inside your equipment bag. This includes your cam. Damage caused by dust, dirt and water, are your cam's worst nightmare (after drops and bumps).

OTHER ITEMS

If you don't have a lens hood, consider buying one. It will reduce flaring. The screw-in types are inexpensive. A portable (squeak proof) chair can also come in handy. A plastic bag, or Saran Wrap, along with some tape will protect your cam from rain and blowing sand. If you're headed for the beach, don't leave without these. A plastic bag or wrap is a cheap substitute for a rain jacket or an "all weather housing" case.
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Old April 6th, 2003, 09:24 PM   #2
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Great tips, Frank! I'll do a check list for my future school movies =p
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Old April 6th, 2003, 09:29 PM   #3
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SETTING UP

With the exception of a shoulder cam, tripod shooting will give you smoother footage than with hand holding. Now's the time to decide: tripod or hand-held. If you're setting up your tripod, place it where you're not going to be obstructed or where you will be the obstruction! For indoor shooting, say a play, set up at the side, so that you have your subject/s at a 45 degree angle. In-between scenes, perhaps take your tripod to the other side. If you are up on a balcony, you will have more leeway for zooming out and in. If you can change positions during scene changes and or intermission, go for it! It will make your footage less boring. Always think ahead. Finally, keep your equipment beside you at all times. This way if you have to move, it will be much easier; but also, it will be more difficult for your stuff to mysteriously walk away!

SHOOTING TIPS

Plan your shooting! I know, I mentioned this already. Use manual focus and white balance at every location, or when conditions change. If you are using a tripod, disengage the image stabilizer; if not, brace the cam while holding it. Sometimes a sitting position will give your cam the best brace. To compose your shot, use the zoom. Try not to move your cam too much: take care with zooming, panning and tilting. Keep the sun behind you or to your rear 45 degree angle. Don't let your shadow get into the footage! "High noon" gives you the least amount of shadows. When indoors, try not to point your cam toward windows with bright sunlight coming in. Before even starting, have your plan in mind. Shoot your footage to edit (and to edit how)? Or shoot your footage so that you don't have to edit---or something in-between. Finally, keep in mind that shooting documentaries, parties, weddings and funerals are like a stories; instructional, corporate, and ads are like an articles.
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Old April 6th, 2003, 09:30 PM   #4
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Thanks Kevin! I'll keep adding stuff here as I get the time. Feel free to add as well.
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Old April 7th, 2003, 01:37 AM   #5
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I can't remember if I have posted this, but for drizzles and light rains (or even the continual dripping of water in a cave), I have two cloth bands with velcro, which I wrap around the manual focus ring and the battery. A plastic sheet is then thrown over and velcro is used to attach the sheet to the cloth bands. You may need an external mic, though, as the built in mic will be obstructed (my MX350 has the mic at the top of the cam). The plastic sheet was ripped from my wife's old handbag, pretty thick stuff, so the wind doesn't lift it too easily.

For a heavy downpour, I shoot from within a phone booth :)
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Old April 7th, 2003, 01:47 AM   #6
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"For a heavy downpour, I shoot from within a phone booth"

Hehe. Dr. Who would be proud of you!
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Old April 7th, 2003, 09:53 PM   #7
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SHOOTING YOUR FIRST WEDDING

You might first want to do is ask yourself if you can or perhaps even want to tackle a wedding. If you do want to, then you likely can do it. There's plenty of planning involved beforehand, and like with any job there's work to be done. But it's not as difficult as one might think. Make sure you have the equipment, and that your equipment is in order. For example, you'll need a good mic---unless the built-in mic is adequate, such as the one on the MX300/0. Sound can always be improved, however, so consider an external mic. A light attached to your cam or tripod is another "must have." I prefer one that mounts to the cam because using a tripod is not always possible. A stabilizer that sits on your shoulder and you hold with one hand may just be more useful that a tripod with shooting weddings. With such a gadget, you can manoeuvre around easily and more quickly for getting the footage from good viewpoints---especially during the wedding reception. Plus, these devices allow you to mount your mic and light right onto it.

Once arranging "the gig," make sure you pre-arrange a visit with the bride getting ready. Perhaps shoot her putting on some lipstick, make-up, a bride's friend helping with the zipper or buttons and jewellery---but don't get carried away here, if you know what I mean. See if you can get some reflective footage, with the bride and her parents. Capture some footage of the groom, perhaps with putting on his tie and corsage. This is not usually possible, because you can't be in two places at one time, so perhaps catch up with him later and ask his friend/best man to straighten his tie for you to shoot. If both the bride and groom leave together for the ceremony, capture it. If they leave separately, focus on the bride.

Be in a good position when the bride and groom enter the church or place of the ceremony. Just before the vows begin, reposition yourself to one side up in front, so that you can focus onto the bride, groom and the person performing the ceremony. Maybe capture a face or two in the front row, preferably the parents. Zoom into the bride, when the "I do's" begin. And for Heaven's sake, don't forget the kiss! Continue "filming" when they exit the church, and they get bombarded with confetti and white rice; and when they drive away in their flowered-up car. Okay, now you're done, for the most part.

The reception.... Capture their entrance, the cake, the presents, the joy and happiness. Film little segments of interesting people, film the speeches, the kisses, etc. Don't forget the dancing, but focus in more with "the couple" dancing. Film all the important little rituals, and end with the newlyweds leaving, entering their car and driving away.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to add your 2 cents.
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