01 March 2007

Techie Toys

This was a techie week. We had three sessions with people who talked us through the basic kit we’ll be needing on a shoot - camera, lights, action (sorry: sound). Charles Edwards, Waka Atwell and Nic McGowann respectively ran us past the pitfalls and gave us a basic understanding of the practical aspects of film making.

Since it was pretty hands-on, here just a few tips/highlights:

Camera Things to remember when setting up the tripod: 

★ make it level
★ make sure the plate is attached securely to both the camera and the tripod - cameras are expensive and break easily when dropped
★ set movement and tension to your liking
★ set the dioptre in the viewfinder to your eye strength. Glasses and view finders don’t mix well. Things to remember when setting up the camera:
★ white balance!!!!!
★ set gain, remember that this increases noise in the image
★ zoom in on the subject and focus, then zoom to the proper frame
★ frame the shot
★ check exposure - use zebra in camera to determine best skin tone (80%)
★ set to 25fps and cinelook if film look is required Lighting “The DoP fills in the white spaces in the script” Things to remember when lighting:
★ make it consistent
 ★ make it look like it’s not lit
★ bring the audience into your world with lighting
★ the audience expects light to come naturally from above eye level
★ use a blue filter to create a night-time effect
★ for interviews try a variation on the three-point lighting set-up: put the fill light on the same side as the key light, close to the camera, bouncing off the ceiling. This fills in the shadows left by the key light, but leaves some shadows on the off-side of the subjects face and makes it look a little more mysterious. Sound Things to remember when doing sound:
★ sound is measured in frequency (pitch - high or low sounds) and amplitude (volume - loud or quiet sounds)
★ masking uses two identical sounds that cancel each other out by putting one out of phase with the other.
★ Don’t lay power cables next to sound cables, if they have to cross, lay them at right angles. You will get distortion and interference otherwise.
★ A radio mic is skewed towards high frequencies to cover up rustles and chest sounds.
★ Make sure you you schedule tech time to get used to equipment, to make sure it’s all in working order and you know how to operate it.
★ In shooting situations with noisy backgrounds point the mic straight at the ground to even out the noise levels that that might change when moving the mic between actors (the noise background might be different, e.g. sea on one side, airport on the other).
★ Keep notes of lines that weren’t covered properly during the shoot, so you can capture wild lines later on. When doing wild lines, make sure the mic is in the same position so that the line will cut with the other ones.
★ Get any necessary effect shots on set, e.g. cars on a race track in the background, to use over close-ups.
 ★ Use plenty of atmospheric sounds (atmos). Remember to put the mic in the same place as it was in the shot. Try to get at least a minute. If you think background sounds are changing, e.g. school playground, call for a break to record atmos rather than leaving it to the end of the shoot. Get more than one atmos tracks if necessary.
★ To cut out background sounds, point the mic downwards, as earth and bodies absorb sound. If this is not possible, point it at the sky (unless there are planes overhead).

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