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Saturday, October 24, 2009

••◊ An Enumeration of Failures

As of 9pm last night I completed the editing, sound design, rendering, and publishing of my short film about a group of mountain bike racers competing in a 24 hour race. This self initiated project was a last minute opportunity to test my brand new equipment before heading off to do a more formal assignment two weeks later (footage is still on a hard drive nagging me). So long story short, there were a grand assortment of failures learning opportunities during this first pass at shooting with the 5Dm2 and my lav setup. Click on the picture below to be taken to the exposureroom.com site hosting the video.

So as the title so poignantly puts it, this post is about my failures and what I learned from them for the next project.

  1. Always get more b-roll. I came home to find that I basically only had bikers passing along on the trail as b-roll and sometimes that really didn't make sense for the video. However that's what I had, so I had to use it. What I should have done is take mental or written notes while interviewing people and aquired b-roll that reflected key words in their conversation.
  2. Watch focus. There are two scenes where my focus is wrong, but I didn't have a choice but to use that video because there was no b-camera or backup. One of the issues with the tiny LCD on the back of the 5Dm2 is that it doesn't show focus really well when zoomed out to 100% view. I watched this like a hawk during my next project. I'm especially ashamed of Bob's night time interview because what he said is just so perfect for the feeling of the scene.
  3. Carefully aquire more audio. 80% of this video's audio soundtrack was rebuilt from recordings I made on to my field recorder. What I should have done is say a scene# or a short description at the beginning when I started to record audio. That would have most the sound design go a lot faster. I also didn't record all the scenes onto the field recorder, just a subset. This meant that some of the background sounds came from other scenes. You would never know by listening (hey, it's Hollywood...it's all fake).
  4. Failure to use full manual mode. This was simply a technical issue. It turns out that in addition to the "M" dial settings you also have to set another menu item to get full manual control of the video mode. At the beginning of the video where the focus shifts from the 24 hour sign to the clock is where this issue showed up. If I had full manual working I would have completely de-focused the alternate focus point and the shot would have been greatly improved. Oh well...there's no going back. It's a documentary and the scene, not quite, but almost made it's point.
  5. Carefully place the lav. I didn't pay as much attention to this as I should have and there are a few interview scenes where you can hear the lav scratching along the polyester clothes. I should have taped everything down or chose a better position for the lav clip.
  6. Think like a photographer. I was so excited to learn my new gear and chase people around that I sometimes forgot to be a photographer first. There were plenty of beautiful scenes to capture and I missed quite a few of them in retrospect. Experience does matter.

Things to think about next time...

  1. I need a better way to stabilize the camera for handheld shots. This could mean a steadicam rig or a should mount rig like Zacuto or Red Rock Micro make. On the financially light side of things a simple mono-pod would have greatly helped. The grips on the camera provide too short of a lever arm to maintain stability for handheld shots.
  2. Lav audio will always need tweaking in post, so be less concerned about the mic and more about the mic position.
  3. Time lapse would have been awesome for this project. I really would like to get a Canon timed remote like the TC-80NC. Hint, hint Santa Claus. Amazon has a good deal on them - just saying.

Things I did right...

  1. I have to admit that this came from another bloggers idea. I turned down the contrast on the camera before heading outdoors. This kept me from blowing out more highlights in daytime outdoor shots. Color correction always needs to be done in post, so starting with low contrast originals is probably better.

So for anyone reading this I hope my experience and failures help. I plan to get better, but it's always good to reflect on what it takes to get there. Off to my million other projects...

Monday, October 5, 2009

••◊ Forget knee deep

I just arrived back from Seattle at noon today and I'm knee deep in documentary footage. There's about 50-60GB of digital stuff from the mountain bike race and nearly 100GB from the bodybuilding interview. I'm up to eyebrows in footage (yes, about to drown). I guess this is the expected result of owning 32GB flash cards.

Needless to say, I'll be spending quite a bit of time in my man cave editing suite in the next few weeks. Just hope to not get burned out. If I need a break I'll post some screen shots from the bodybuilding interview. Intense stuff.

Friday, October 2, 2009

••◊ Fortune Cookie

Well, duh! I thought this was supposed to be about my future(?) Fortune cookie bakeries must have recently downsized "cost optimized" their fortune teller department.