Today in class we were given the chance to become more familiar with the cameras. I can’t remember the name of the model of camera we were using, but I will say that they were bigger than anything I have ever worked with before (outside of RMITV) and I am very keen to become competent in using them. We looked at how to operate the cameras on a very basic level, how to set up the tripods, and how to set up a shot using the rings on the lens to adjust focal length, focus and exposure. We were also taught about ND filters, how to crash zoom, how to set the focal length to 12mm, how to format the memory card and why it’s better to move the camera around and then place the tripod rather than take shortcuts and not get the best possible shot.
In groups of three, our main activity for this class consisted of going out and filming some kind of event for 50 seconds without sound, from a fixed position (aka no panning or tilting of the camera). We were to be mindful of how we framed the action and of the exposure we used, and of what effect our shot had in terms of showing the action. My group decided to film people getting on and off the trams in Swanston street, and so first we chose a low angle, slightly tilted upwards, allowing the tram to take up a large portion of the frame and for the doors to be a focus of the shot. However, we had some trouble with the exposure, since we wanted the background to be exposed well but the large depth of field made this difficult. We used the ND filter to aid in this, but I am unsure of how dark that made the tram appear in the final shot when it arrived. We decided that for our second shot (we had to shoot again for 5o seconds, altering the camera position in order to influence the action captured) we would cross the road and attempt to film the tram in a very linear way, the tram moving from left to right across the frame and taking up less space. Visually, whilst logical, this was a boring shot to use, and so we attempted to add symmetry into the shot by framing up between two poles. I’m not sure this worked though, since the poles were not symmetrical aligned with the shelters at the stop, and so this might be too distracting for a viewer to even realise the look we were going for. Our exposure was less thought through here too due to time limitations, and so whilst I’m not sure that the second shot was an improvement, it did raise some interesting points in terms of the effect of a shot in how it represents action. To me, the first shot was more aesthetically appealing and it did show the action effectively, however the second shot was less personal and more establishing, and perhaps expressed the idea of movement (rather than the sole action of getting on or off a tram) better. It really would depend on the context as to which shot was more appropriate. For example, are you attempting to establish a character or the feeling of being amongst the crowds in the city? Or are you attempting to establish the idea of travel or a shift in locations?