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Old January 29th, 2014, 03:18 PM   #1
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My First Real Shoot

I have a question for you guys…

I am doing my first shoot with someone besides my church! I am excited, but a little nervous. I was hoping to get a little advice.

I'm actually driving about an 1.5 hours to the shoot and it's with my uncles auction house. I am actually staying with him Monday night and then the auction is Tuesday evening. I planned on trying to get some footage Monday night and then interviewing him on camera Tuesday during the day then obviously getting as much footage as I can Tuesday night. I have a desktop computer, but I plan on taking it and looking at the footage after I shoot the interview so I can make sure I got what I need from him.

I plan on shooting his interview outside. What time would be best to shoot it? I have stand up lights, but they all need to be plugged in. I imagine that the place I'd like to do the interview is a bit too far for that. I believe I have an umbrella, but I'm not sure.

I have a tri-pod and just plan on using it for most of my b-roll footage.

He basically just wants a short 2-3 minute video on what the place is and why someone would want to come there

I'm not really sure which format for this video would be best as I really only have 1 style (which is, interview someone and have b-roll while they talk). I'd like to mix it up, but I'm not really sure how. Any ideas on that?

Also, any overall advice for me?
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Old January 30th, 2014, 09:04 AM   #2
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Some quick suggestions.

Conduct your interview either late in the afternoon or earlier in the morning when the sun is lower in the sky. The worst time to do any outdoor "natural light" interview is from 11am to 3pm when the sun is much higher and the light is less flattering. Many times the shadows will hide the eyes...or just plain look bad.

Second suggestion. Do two interviews. One in the morning and the second late afternoon. Try and ask different questions in each interview but...don't be shy about re-asking a question or two in the second interview which you asked in the first. By the second interview your subject should be a little more relaxed and when someone is relaxed their interview is always much better. You might even make sure they wear a different shirt or something to help differentiate between the two interviews. I'd also suggest you shoot each interview with the subject looking at the opposite screen direction from the first.

Plus...doing two interviews makes it seem like you spent more time with the subject and will give the viewer the idea your finished product has more depth of information. Look at any 60 minutes story and see how many times they interview the main subject. Rarely just once and, frankly doing this is not going to eat into your day of production as much as you might think since it's all natural light anyway.

For goodness sakes use your tripod on the interviews. Give your product a consistent level of quality. Not using the sticks for the interview is going to make it that much harder for your subject to relax. Now he has to look at you with a camera on your shoulder and answer questions? You are sabotaging your own work because you too will not be concentrating on doing a good interview. Now you're also worried about keeping your shot level and steady. You won't be listening to what he says...and odds are you'll miss the chance to ask a good follow-up question which will make the interview better. Plus your interview subject will be looking more often into the lens and that often looks amateur. Sure...some people want that "look right into the lens" type of interview but it also make the interview subject MUCH more nervous. It's up to you to make the interview the best it can and it all starts with making your interview subject ignore the fact they are being recorded and just have a conversation. Not an "interview".

Something else...think about what will be your opening and closing shot BEFORE you get to the point you want to edit. Do it while you're on the shoot and make them BOTH good. A good open and close shot are the bookends that set the tone for the entire story and make or break a quality product.

Start now focusing on making your ENTIRE product consistent. Using a tripod on some shots and not others may have good reasons but...for interviews? That's just being a little lazy and your video won't look any different than a newbie out doing their first story. Start making a professional product now. Bad habits are hard to break if you start doing them early.

Hope this helps.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 10:07 AM   #3
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Great advice from John.

IF you do shoot during a sunny day, try to put your subject in the shade. Near the edge of the shade where the sun comes from is nice, because you'll get a bit of bounce of light up to fill in their face, which is flattering. Or don't hesitate to use off camera light to fill someone's face if you need to.

Remember that it's easier to (slightly) brighten up some footage after the fact, than it is to fix an over exposed clip.

Not sure the style and purpose of the video, but for transitions a little movement is appropriate to make the setting - such as, slowly pulling towards or away from a location to show where you are (arriving or leaving). If you don't have a slider or glidecam, you can film a location/building with a wide shot, then a closer shot to show arrival, or the reverse to show you're leaving.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 10:19 AM   #4
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Re: My First Real Shoot

The shade suggestion is a great idea too...but always remember if your subject is in the shade...to do your best to make as much of the background also in the shade too.

Always consider the entire frame you are shooting. Not just the subject.

Have the shaded side of the building, sign or...whatever...fill as much of the background as possible too.

A few points of "over-bright" spots in the frame aren't bad...but if the subject is exposed correctly but all of the background is blown-out/over exposed...it doesn't look good. ;)
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Old January 30th, 2014, 10:38 AM   #5
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Re: My First Real Shoot

You need a lavalier microphone or a shotgun on a boom. Using a camera mic will result in poor results. So much that your uncle may not want to show the video as it reflects poorly on his business.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 12:19 PM   #6
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Re: My First Real Shoot

All excellent points so far.

I would also like to stress the audio portion of this equation. Having excellent audio is paramount to making the final product watchable. If the audio is weak, noisy, not good, people will quickly move on to something else and not watch the video. Even if the video is somewhat lacking, if it has good audio, people will be more inclined to continue watching.

If it's windy outside, you're going to have a hard time getting quality audio... without spending a lot of money on wind socks and such.

A good shotgun on a boom plus also a lav mic would provide a good audio source (serving as a backup too)
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Old January 30th, 2014, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: My First Real Shoot

You can also backlight the subject with the sun. Just make sure that the full background is in shade. A reflector helps - not so much for fill light but to add a catch light to the eyes. Otherwise the eyes will be dark.

Here's a portrait I shot with that technique (without reflector, hence dark eyes). It was around noon in November up here in Washington State.

http://fairhurst.com/photos/Z-Tday20...day2013_02.JPG

FWIW, that's the Canon 100L macro on a full frame cam.

Had they been fully in shade, I wouldn't have gotten that magical halo and the lighting would have been flatter. Had the background been sunny, the faces would be dark and/or the background blown out. Facing the sun, the subjects would be squinting and harshly lit.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 01:07 PM   #8
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Re: My First Real Shoot

And then a cloud rolls by during an answer ... plan to spend time in post.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 04:10 PM   #9
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Thanks for the responses guys…

This was the first video I did a couple weeks ago (I know the audio is terrible and I think I've worked that out for future videos)


My second video was on my church as well, but is in basically the same format (interview/b-roll). I will finish it up this weekend.

I was hoping to maybe change things up a bit and try something new with his auction house video, but I'm not sure exactly what and how.

He's basically just wanting to raise awareness/basically let people know he exists and tell people why they should come.

Thanks for your help!
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Old January 30th, 2014, 05:44 PM   #10
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Re: My First Real Shoot

I thought you did a nice job.

Natural sound.

Try and work more of it into your product.

At present you just have the interview with music running underneath it.

Try and weave some natural sound moments in to break up that "track" once in a while. Don't over do it. But at present it does not exist even though we see a lot of activity in your b-roll shots.

Even if it's just very low under the track but still loud enough to hear over the music...without burying the music. A laugh. A clink of metal. A swish of a spoon as it pours soup into a bowl. Hearing someone say "thank you". It doesn't have to be a long involved break. But it adds touches of reality and depth to your story. An extra audio "brush stroke" to make your project more finished.

But I liked the consistent quality you displayed here. Now the trick is to raise that quality bar. ;)
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Old January 31st, 2014, 09:26 AM   #11
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Thanks a lot! I appreciate it. Great advice on the extra audio added in. I will definitely try to do that on my next video.

This video is my second video and I tried to have the same formula so I can get better at it. I will go in and add some of that extra audio in my next edit of this.

Other than that, can you give me some suggestions on this video? I have to clean it up a bit in spots and maybe fix the music, but what do advice do you have for this video

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Old February 4th, 2014, 09:09 AM   #12
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Just saw your response...and I'm going to post some quick, short thoughts.

Please don't infer that I'm being mean because they are short and to the point.

There is nothing more boring than to start any project off with a talking head.

This video was about the services being broadcast. That's what you should have started with.

One better way (there are several) is first seeing the church service in progress...sound up full...then bring the guy's voice in, then go to him visually.

Or...seeing an exterior of the church while hearing the service in progress...then see AND hear the service in progress...then dove-tail the audio of the interview in on top of the church service audio (which is now lower, but still audible)...then go full to the guy talking and fade the church music away underneath him.

Or...starting in black, fade in the title graphic of the church all while first audio is the church service in progress...THEN see the church service in progress with the dove-tail audio ending up with interview full.

You should have woven that church service, audio AND video throughout this product. Not once or twice...several times. You didn't.

In fact, there's no natural sound at all. Just an interview voice(s).

The few times we did see the service, we couldn't hear anything. You effectively killed real emotion from being a part of this video. You need to make this video as engaging as possible to get people to really want to watch it. You're not making this video for the people you interviewed. You're making it to get people to want "more"...actually come to church or watch it on their computer.

This also goes back to my earlier suggestion about a quality open and close shot. As mentioned before...the talking-head does not cut it.

You also had grammar issues with your words on screen. Specifically when it mentions the church reaching people. "Since the inception of this ministry, they have reached people they thought possible." It should read "...reached more people than they thought possible.". As it stands, it's incorrect/poor English.

You had plenty of shots of all those who shoot the cameras and switch the show...but they were mundane. Everyone looked bored out of their skulls. You had one shot of a camera op sitting in a chair, well away from the camera, and in a very bored manner, holding his head on his chin, panning the camera a bit. Again, the message to me was whatever they were shooting was so boring they didn't care about it. Be more selective with those shots. Only use the good ones. In fact during the interview he was talking about the technical crew and there was a jump cut which could/should have been covered so it would not be seen.

There were some nice rack-focus moves from cameras to action during the service.

However...for a video about the service...you showed almost none unless it was in a monitor.

I want to hear that service. I want to hear the music as people sing. I want to hear the minister give some of his sermon or prayer. I want to see the joy and emotion people get by attending this service so it makes me either want to physically go to the church or, at the very least, see it online. Just a phrase here and there. Not the entire sermon. Not the entire song. Not the entire prayer. A phrase is plenty and then drop it under the voice so we can hear the voice but it dove-tails to keep us engaged and the piece flowing.

You should make a short open for these videos where you incorporate the name of the church. Key word is "short". Then go to a quality opening shot that engages me. Not a talking-head. I have yet to see an exterior shot of this church. Show me where it is. Show me people coming to church. Show me a sign outside of the church so I know if it's in West Virginia or China.

Sure, you can end with the name of the church but give me a nice "goodbye" shot too. Close with something of quality. Pretty and flattering to the subject matter you are making a video about.

These are just quick thoughts before I head off to work.

Again, I'm not trying to be mean. I simply tend to get to the point as quickly as possible.

It also helps me keep the message clear.

Use natural sound more and show me ( see AND hear) the people enjoying the service! ;)
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Last edited by John DuMontelle; February 4th, 2014 at 08:28 PM.
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Old February 4th, 2014, 06:57 PM   #13
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Re: My First Real Shoot

John, thanks for those comments. I know they are referring to Brock's video specifically, but there are some real pearls in there that I can take and apply for my work too. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.
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Old February 5th, 2014, 12:08 PM   #14
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Re: My First Real Shoot

Great advice John! I really appreciate it.

At the current time, I have nothing to shoot the "natural" sound of the church except the mic in my T3i. I have some laviers, but no shotgun at the moment. Would the camera audio be alright for that?

Loved the advice on opening with shots of the church or the service with natural audio then fading into the actual talking head. Good stuff.

I will make sure to take the shot out of the guy looking bored sitting back moving the camera. I should have known better than that.

I have since corrected the grammer and the jump cut that wasn't hidden. Thanks

All the advice was great. Really means a lot that you took time to watch and give me suggestions. It really is helping me become better at this. I appreciate it!
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Old February 5th, 2014, 12:51 PM   #15
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Re: My First Real Shoot

A nice slow, paperwork day for me.

I really appreciate you taking my comments in the tone intended.

The last thing I want to do is sound arrogant, offensive or just plain grumpy.

I also use a T3i as a second lockdown camera on some of my shoots.

I know what you mean about the audio. It's there, but...

I bought a cheap DSLR mic like this for my Canon T3i which I use from time to time.

New Video Shotgun Mic Stereo Microphone for Nikon Canon DSLR Camera DV Camcorder | eBay

Just do a search for "dslr mic" on ebay and you'll find something to fit your budget.

Big or small.

At this time...you don't need to spend big bucks on that for your T3i...yet.

It didn't kill my wallet and was much cheaper than buying a stand alone audio recorder like a Zoom to try and synch audio to video later.

I'm a "keep it simple" kind of guy.

Spend money for the best quality possible...but balance that by always asking myself...is this item a "need" or a "want"?

I try and stick to "need" as often as possible.

You could probably get by with using the internal, built-in mic the camera has for the nat sound...if you're close enough to the audio source.

But an external DSLR mic is a lot better than the built-in camera mic on the Canon.

Frankly, what does impress me about your work is the consistent level of quality.

That's very important.

From there you build that level slowly and continue to maintain it throughout the finished product.

None of us ever stops trying to raise that "consistent level of quality" bar no matter how long we've been in the business.

I can not stress enough that too often, and I do NOT direct this comment at you and your work, people shooting video get all caught up in the video image and completely ignore the need for nice clean, quality audio.

To me that's just as important as making sure you've got good color balance and focus in your images.

Your audio quality on the interviews was good.

Try to expand your efforts with audio.

Remember a mic mounted on the camera can pick up the sound of your hand moving on the camera body...which is why some will spend even more money on a DSLR mic that has better mic suspension than lesser priced mics like I linked to.

Do what you can to record clean natural sound and then incorporate it more often in your final product.

There's a reason they offer you more than one track of audio to record to while shooting and editing! ;)

Keep up the good work!
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