Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lessons Learned from my first on location video shoot

These are the lessons learned and Bloopers from the CarveWright Quick Release Chuck Shoot for the WWWShopWWWShop Channel we did on Martin Luther King Day.

Matt was off School, and Zach had the day off, and I didn't have an onsite client that day. We had a great time, failed fast, and learned some good lessons about on location shooting. I am absolutely sure we will make more mistakes and I hope we have a much fun at it as we did this time.

Bloopers From CarveWright Quick Release Chuck Shoot for WWWShopWWWShop Channel



You can watch the final cut at YouTube at my Dad's channel wwwshopwwwshop under the title CarveWright Quick Chuck Modifications.

I have decided I will create three production checklists: pre-production, production, post production and will post them once I have them completed. I am also going to research them on the web as well that why I won't recreate the same old wheel. **Update** I found a great resource at Caryn's Indie Film Resources.

Most of our bloopers and lessons learned fall under set management but I have broken down the lessons learned into the following categories:

  • Equipment - Used or Not Used
    Video Camera: I used a Panasonic Palmsight Model PV-L757 VHS-C Video Camera
    The Camera on the tripod was not to move during the shoot
    The target reference was not established or communicated to the Camera Personnel
    As this was not already in a digital format it had to be dubbed/converted first
    Again this was cost effective, even though I want to acquire a new video camera, I already had a good piece of equipment and the needed dubbing/converted from a Santa Project of converting all my old VHS tapes. I didn't make sure the EIS - Electronic Image Stabilization was turned on and I didn't use the Fade in and out so the dubbing would automatically create chapters. This would have helped the editing software create the clips for me as it would have determined the breaks easier. I didn't use separate mics or shotgun mics to get only the speakers voice.
    Still Camera: I used a Nikon D50 and need a different lens for close up shots as the focal length with the standard lens is to long for auto and the Manual was great, but I had several blown shots.

    Dubbing: I used a Sony RDR-VX535 to convert the VHS to DVD VOB, then to MPG
    Some effort was needed to make the needed scene clips and each editor had its own issues with the MPG file being about a gig. I need to research why the sound and video became out of sync when you moved the editor to specific places as compared to when it just played.

    Lighting - We used Natural light which was great and cost effective. A side effect is that towards evening the movement is more apparent on the subject and harder to manage reflections and bright spots. This also caused the white round reflections from my watch face on my subject.
    Scene Clapboard - Not Used as we didn't have a set clapboard and thus we didn't have defined scripted scene points for production, teleprompter coordination, notice that tape is running or editing.
    It became clear in the editing process why a production log, script and scene list would have been effective. A set clapboard would have been a nice feature as well at the beginning of each scene. This would clearly help with the editor with the editing software get to a specific spot in the digital footage for the desired scene and take you want to add to the timeline for the final cut from script and the production log.
    Teleprompter / Laptop with Script on Slides - Didn't have one, could have used a laptop and it again would have helped on many levels
  • Set Management
    Controlled Set - We didn't have one as we used Dad's enclosed front porch :-) Again it was cost effective but had limitations.
    Sound intrusion:
    We had outside noise from vehicles going down the road.
    My Cell phone went off because it wasn't on silent
    My sons where texting - click click click... okay they worked for free but..
  • Production Management
    Didn't use beyond my own thoughts about what I wanted to get on tape to edit to tell the story from the concept and work my Dad had done to solve his problem
    I did make a quick sketch before leaving to shoot the footage of the storyboard and the needed scenes, but it was crude and I will have the following going forward:
    Storyboard
    Script (even for an interview) so I can make slides for a Laptop to use as a teleprompter
    Production Log
    Set Setup and Layout
  • Editing Tools - I used Microsoft Movie Maker as it was the easiest to get the project done on my laptop, as I was having problems with my desktop editing the MPG with Movie Maker or Adobe Premier Pro CS4 and I wanted to get it done and figure out the issues later. I could also do it while I had a minute here and there and while I was mobile going to and from clients. I have Divix, Adobe and Movie Maker on my Desktop, Movie Maker and Unlead Movie Factory for Toshiba on my laptop. I will do a review on editing soon as I have lots to discuss on that topic. I want to be using Adobe Premier but I am glad I could get it done with Movie Maker.
So as with any great project I enjoy it was challenging, fun, had hurdles and learning opportunity and provided another outlet for my desire to share experiences learned while using camera's, computer hardware and software.

In all I have only the cost of a DVD, as everything else I already owned, and that was less than 10 cents. As for time, I have 5 hours on site for the shoot, 8 hours in editing (5 hours was bugs in software with the mpg format I was using and learning curve), 2 hours in posting to YouTube and blogs. It was a wonderful and enlightening experience to share with my Dad, Zach and Matt.

I also have a greater respect and admiration for what goes on in Hollywood and TV sets. I think I have caught the Indie/Indy (Independent Film) bug. Since Anna and I have been to Sundance in 1999 on vacation (it was in the Summer), now maybe I can get there in the winter with a short, you never know :-)

Also, here is a great Indy YouTube Channel - SMPFilms that I like - Mean Kitty and Mr. Safety!

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