Day 1 – HND Course

Today was the first day of the HND course.  We spent the morning discussing the structure of the course and the afternoon shooting “getting to know you”  interviews with fellow classmates and planning / discussing the format of the shots.

Our group drew the short straw and had to film outside, without the benefit of any sound equipment – just the on camera microphones.  This lead to a number of challenges which we tried to work with, although the resultant video clips are pretty much unusable sadly without ADR.

The exercise was fun however and valuable for some of the candidates who really hadn’t had a chance to shoot much video previously.

I spent most of the time wishing I had a boom mic / dead cat (or even lav mics) … and cutting / waiting for pedestrians to walk past 🙂

The original plan was to conduct the interviews seated with a wide establishing shot and then a medium closeup of the interviewee/interviewer on one of the sofas / seated on chairs.  This was quickly scuppered when we found the only place we could shoot due to the other disruptions / auditions / etc was going to be on Craven Street (but at least we had natural light!)

Problems encountered included

  • Frequent interruptions from people walking past / wanting to get into Raindance HQ (we were shooting on the “private Raindance property” to overcome the issue of a lack of permit/etc (plus the whole lack of microphone problem) as well as people standing in the street watching us whilst talking loudly on their mobile phones or just arguing with their spouse.
  • Lots of background noise including police sirens (armed police apparently attending an incident in Trafalgar Square)
  • We had planned to get B-Roll of the interviewer “nodding” and re-asking the questions, however with the audio challenges we figured this was relatively pointless for this exercise.
  • There were a number of auditions at Raindance HQ which meant we couldn’t use the common areas or room 1 (plus the noise from the dehumidifiers meant we couldn’t easily film in the reception area either).
  • Soft focus.  Some of the clips aren’t as clearly focussed as I first thought when viewed on a larger screen.  Some of this was due to movement in the shot and the inability to focus peak whilst recording (something the GH5 lets me do), and some of it is down to talent/camera movements after the initial setup was framed. (Note .. always always always check and double check focus and positioning before/during recording)

How could we have improved things?

  • The use of lav mics or possibly a even a boom mic would have helped greatly. (As would the use of a “dead cat” to muffle the wind noise).
  • Closing the street to pedestrians would have limited the disruption from passers by.
  • Choosing a better location (we were told not to wander too far from Raindance and have previously been warned about the issues of filming on private land – such as the passage nearby – without permission)
  • ADR – we could just re-record the audio later on (I’m sure this will be an exercise in the coming months) 🙂
  • Watching the recordings back, they’re all very dry.  The interview techniques are minimal, there’s little or no energy and I fear that trying to find ways to cut the 2 minute clips into anything that doesn’t immediately send the viewer to sleep or running for the “thumbs down button” is going to be a challenge 🙂 (but we do thrive on challenges … don’t we?) 🙂

At the end of the day, this was simply an exercise to get everyone out and playing with a camera … It’s great that we were filming something on the first day – no matter what it was … Much better than spending weeks in a classroom learning the theory of everything before we ever get to see the light of day on a sensor.

I may end up bringing my own camera gear in sooner rather than later though as 2 x 700D’s between 9 people (3 groups of 3) was a bit frustrating – however I’d prefer Raindance’s kit experienced the effects of slippery fingers and gravity rather than my own equipment if truth be told 🙂

Place holder for a first cut of the interviews / edited video / etc once the content has been uploaded and I’ve had a chance to import into Adobe Premiere

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