First ‘test shoot’ reflection

Last weekend I did a test shoot for the short film I am DoPing, just with one of the writer/directors and the main actor. This was quite spontaneous (we thought we ought to create a trailer for our pozible campaign) and thus I hadn’t storyboarded in advance. In effect, it became an interesting process: shooting the scene organically and talking out the shot construction with the writer/director as we went. I do think we would benefit from having a storyboard with us on the day though, just to make sure we have all the shots we need.

There were a few things I realised while shooting this scene, which will help to prepare me for the ‘real deal’. First and foremost, my own tripod that I was using on the day, is far too short, it doesn’t even extend up to the main actor’s eye level. Thus, I will need to hire out a better tripod from RMIT for the proper shoot and will need to double check that the tripod will fit onto my camera. In saying this, I will most likely bring along my own tripod as well, because it is super easy to use and works well for quick/whip pans. Secondly, I almost ran out of one full camera battery after half a day of shooting, so I may need to think about sourcing another couple of batteries for the days we are shooting on location. I do have two batteries, which should be fine for the days we are shooting at a house (because I will be able to charge one while shooting with the other), but I think it would be good to have another backup battery just in case. The last issue I had was to do with focusing. We had a lot of sun on the day and we were shooting outside, so the glare did not help, but I found it particularly difficult to make sure subjects/objects were in focus purely by looking at the small digital screen on my camera. I wish I had an eye piece so I could look at the screen up close in darkness, or have a monitor setup (which is unfortunately not possible with my camera). However, I did find a slightly better alternative than looking at the digital screen, which was to change the camera setting to photography (rather than video) and look through the view-finder to focus and then swap back to the video setting. It also would’ve helped if I had brought tape with me to mark positions for the actor, as well as mark focus points on my camera’s focal rim. Nevertheless, it was all a learning process and it will help to make my shooting method better for next time.

Below is the director, Max’s edit, as well as my ‘alternate’ edit of the footage we shot. It wasn’t too hard to cut the scene because we had a good long take of the entire sequence, which we could cut back and forth from. However, I found that I couldn’t use quite a few of the shots we got because they were either breaking the ‘line’ or they felt jarring because they weren’t different enough from the shot preceding them (they were less than 45 degrees ‘apart’). I think this would be easily solved with the use of storyboards and a bit more planning. These edits would also benefit from some good quality sound recording, but unfortunately we were limited to my camera microphone on the day.

Max’s edit:

My edit:

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