Wanda Merritt Anthony

Wanda Merritt Anthony

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Short Take on Footage

Months ago I said my next post would be about footage.  Life took over since then.  My oldest daughter got engaged and later called off the marriage.  I've put in extra time shooting, editing, and uploading footage.  I have also been putting in extra time at my work at home job.  With all this, along with normal living, my blog has been neglected.  Now I'm back with a short post for you.

I did some research to see which topics need to be addressed first.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went on YouTube to check out what's out there in terms of home video.  Basically, the same issues exist now as they did years ago when we all walked around with those camcorders on our shoulders.  These issues have improved considerable but are still there.

1.  Scenes and videos are too long.  Sure, the topic takes as long as it takes but cut out the extras.  For example, a bride getting ready. Many will show her washing her face, putting on moisturizer, doing her hair, plucking her eyebrows, applying blush, brushing on mascara and eyeshadow, lining her lips, putting on lipstick, blotting said lipstick, stepping into her dress, having it zipped, someone placing every pin in her veil, and finally the bride smiling into the camera.  Reduce this to a couple of strokes with the hair brush or one curl from the curling iron, bride applying mascara, stepping into her dress, finishing touches on the veil, and finally with the bride smiling into the camera. 

I know you're excited about the event.  You're right there feeling the vibe.  You want to capture every moment.  Do this if you must.  Just please do some judicious editing before you show the footage to people.  You don't want them falling asleep before they see the rest of your wonderful footage.  I think after you edit every moment of hours of footage you will shoot with the essential point in mind next time. 

2.  Too much zooming, panning, and tilting.  People zoom in then out and back again.  They'll pan right, then left, then back right.  The same with tilting, up, down, up.  STOP, just stop. 

Follow these rules whether you're zooming, panning, or tilting. 
     a.  Move in ONE direction and stop.  Period.  If you're shooting a wide view of the Salt Lake Temple and want to zoom in on the Angel Moroni, zoom in as close as you'd like and STOP.  Don't zoom back out.  Don't pan or tilt unless you're sure of what you'll see.  Same rule for panning and tilting.  If you are shooting a vista choose a starting point and pan in one direction and STOP.  Do not pan back the way you came in the same shot.  Want to show how tall that building is?  Tilt upward and STOP. 
     b.  People tend to start in the middle and pan, zoom, or tilt; then they'll go back in the opposite direction past the middle and onto to the other side.  Don't do that. 
     c.  Practice your moves.  Take a dry run or two before you shoot.  Pan the scene to decide where to begin and end.  Practice zooming so you'll know when to stop.  Stop at a good composition, not when you run out of zoom. 
     d.  Pan, zoom, and tilt at an appropriate and steady speed.  Most people move to quickly. 
     e.  Use pan, zoom, and tilt to enhance your footage.  These techniques are like spices, a little goes a long way.  Too much can ruin your efforts. 
     f.  This may be a blind thing but don't shoot while you're looking for your subject.  Pan, zoom, tilt, find, then shoot. 

3.  Use a tripod whenever possible.  For the most part you will be shooting action in front of you; the track meet, the parade, a sunset.  That is the action we want to see.  Stabilize you camera by placing it on a tripod or another stable surface.  Because I have to be very close to the video display I can rest the monitor part of the video camera on the bridge of my nose  when I can't use a tripod. 

4.  Know when to move and when to stay put.  These two examples are the best way I know to explain this. 

     Church video.  Somebody set a video camera on a tripod in the balcony.  They zoomed out so part of the congregation could be seen from the back.  The piano, organ, and pulpit could also be seen.  The entire service was recorded from this vantage point.  Someone should have been assigned to pan the choir members during a song, to zoom in on the soloist, get some medium shots of the pianist, pan the minister moving into the pulpit to preach, and some medium shots of him preaching the sermon.  The audio was good because the church used microphones.  Granted this is difficult with one camera but I believe the show would have been more interesting.

     YouTube Video.  Someone also set the camera on a tripod and left it there.  This person used a medium shot.  The scene consisted of a little girl standing at a table with play dough and cookie cutters.  The camera showed her mushing the play dough into the shapes and unmolding them.  After she unmolded each shape she would hold it up so the viewer could see.  The little girl talked about what she was doing the whole time.  The audio was good because the camera was close enough to capture it.  This video worked because the action was framed with no distracting extras. 

My motto is, "Go where the action is." 

4.  Audio.  I'll direct you elsewhere for that.  Your camera's built in microphone may be fine for close work or when other microphones are used.  I know you can buy extra microphones to enhance audio quality.  I usually remove the audio tract for my stock footage so I don't know much about making your audio better.

Next blog, I don't know.  I don't know when I will write and post my next blog.  Neither do I know what the subject matter will be.  If you have suggestions please comment. 

When you need stock photographs or footage please take a look at my portfolios.  I would appreciate it very much. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thank You Digital

Back in the day I used to cringe when somebody brought out a photo album.  I knew what was in store and was never proven wrong.  These albums contained a collection of mostly horrific snapshots that never should have been seen by anyone.  I've come to the conclusion people kept these monstrosities because by golly they'd payed for them.  Back then they would have bought the film and flash, took the film to the processor, and waited for their pictures, either one hour or a few days.  It's no wonder people keep most of them.

You know the pictures I mean, we've all seen them.  Lets use some familiar photo ops as examples. 

Family with Christmas Tree in Background.  First shot; flash didn't go off.  Second shot; toddler is on the floor kicking and red faced.  Third shot; Dad is in the process of picking up said toddler, so the shot is blurry.  Fourth shot, flash glares off Grandpa's glasses and/or the mirror in the shot.  Fifth shot; someone has his/her eyes closed.  Sixth shot: finally a keeper!

On Vacation.  Here we are in front of Cinderella's Castle, The Grand Canyon, Hollywood sign, etc.  First shot; photographer's finger is in front of the lens.  Second shot; random person walks directly in front of the camera, ruining the picture.  Third shot; somebody wasn't ready.  Fourth shot; somebody blinked, sneezed, was looking away.  Fifth shot: a keeper! 

School Performance.  First shot, second shot.....all shots; you can't see the stage very well but the heads of the people in front of you are very well illuminated.  There is one and only one cure for this in still photography.  Get up and move close to the stage and take your pictures.  A powerful flash will light up 20-30 feet in front of it.  Chances are you are sitting farther back than that.

Small Children and Pets.  Shot one, and most others;  because the tall adult is towering over the child or pet the subject looks smashed and squat.  The photographer should get on the same level as the person or animal being photographed.  Sit on the floor where the action is or put the child in a chair or have someone hold the pet.  Your pictures will look much better.

Light Source Behind Subject.  Shot one, and probably all others, subject is dark while background is light.  Moving your subject is the best remedy.  If that isn't possible use the flash, even if you're outside.  The extra light from the flash will help illuminate your subject.

Digital cameras have gone a long way in improving peoples photography and photo albums.  Now the photographer can see what the shot will look like before it's snapped.  If a picture is bad, no great loss, just delete it and retake.   I looked through some Facebook friends photo albums for this post and was pleasantly surprised.  Most pictures were good.  I have to chalk that up to the digital age.  First they decided to keep only the good ones.  Second they were selective in which pictures to upload.  Thank goodness uploading takes a little time.

I'll talk about Video in my next blog.

Happy Shooting.