I wanna be the guy part 2

Me, with filming equipment, setting up a tripod

Last time, I started to discuss the complexities and difficulties of the pre-production process. Now, moving on to the production side.

Production

There’s so much to production in terms of effort, it can be too much for smaller groups to handle. Starting with the sound, to get it just right is often deceptively hard. To get the right levels on a meter, you often want a field mixer/recorder. Setting the tone is important, getting it just around the beginning of the red. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting either distorted sound or sound which is so quiet that to get it to a discernable level, you need to up the gain and then put up with more of the noise behind. Likewise, there’s many different types of microphones to choose from, for many situations, that you need to know exactly what you’re shooting and how.

Then there’s the issue of lighting. Bad lighting can ruin a scene, even if everything else is perfect. Light is generally measured in Lux, and with the help of a light meter, can turn the “art” of lighting into a science. This is brilliant for (for example) chroma keying. You’ve heard of it – blue screen/green screen. Knowing how the background is lit is essential to getting a convincing chromakey. All sorts of wacky equipment can be used, not just lights. The other major factor in lighting is this – Don’t trust your eyes! – It’s not how the camera sees the scene. Our eyes automatically adjust to light levels and even colours, which is why you need control over lighting. Bouncing light is important for this, which can be done with the reflector. One of these can bounce light to create definition in partially lit faces for example. Just remember to watch out how you open it, or it will smack you in the face. You have been warned! Oh, and then there’s the issue of the classic lighting system – three point lighting, two either side of the subject and one behind. It’s something that highlights your film (no pun intended), if you have something other than the “natural lighting”.

Surprisingly cheap, and surprisingly springy! Be careful!

The role of the director is very important for the content of the film itself. As a director, it’s your job to push and manipulate the cast into performing their best, and it’s a wonder how any director can stay friends with an actor, considering how much the director may have to push them. I suppose it helps if you cast somebody that isn’t too sensitive. Bad acting stands out a mile away, and to be fair, it’s something that I have been guilty of before, both as a director (saying “Yeah, it’ll do”) as well as the actor (overacting). I’ve not found the best tricks to either acting or directing yet, but it’s something I’m determined to learn (among other things).

The cameraman isn’t always the only one in control of the camera. Focus pullers as well as some of the more creative camera movements, such as dolly work and crane shots often require multiple people helping out. This collaboration in a single role means that practice is often necessary, not just in general, but even on individual shots. The speed of the camera movement needs to match the focus of the camera, to make it as seamless as possible. Even the cameraman has to make sure the camera doesn’t shake too much (if they’re a steadicam operator for example), as well as making sure that it’s recording in the right format, and such.

The clapperboard person (if there’s a dedicated one) has the easiest job of all. Say the scene, take and such (if even that) then clap the board. You got off lightly!

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