In this week’s module, we have two assigned readings—Chapter 7 and 9 of The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video by Tom Schroeppel. The image below is a cover of the book. We are also asked to find videos that inspire us and to find a video that is good overall but has some aspects that are poorly done. In this module, we also started pre-production for our final project – mini documentary/biography/news story.
Reading & Writing:
In Chapter 7, Schroeppel wrote about exterior lighting, interior lighting and how to set up lighting for filming. He talked about how while the sun is the most common source of lighting when shooting a clip outdoors, it often casts shadows on the subject. In order to produce the best results, a reflector or a fill light is needed. A reflector bounces the light from the light source toward the subject. A fill light is an extra light source that can be moved around and is independent from the main light source. For interior lighting, there are also several different kinds of lights one can choose. A focusing quartz light can cast light on a wide range, from a narrower spot to a spread-out flood. However, its light is also more intense and would often need to be diffused. A broad also has a high intensity light and covers a wide area, but its light would need to be diffused as well. On the other hand, the light given off from a softlight is a bounce light, so there is no need to diffuse it. Finally, Schroeppel talked about how to build a lighting setup for filming. Usually four kinds of light are required: a key light to shine on the subject, a fill light to reduce the amount of shadow caused by the key light, a back light to separate the subject from the background, and a background light to give the background enough illumination to create a sense of depth. From this chapter, I also learned to start slow and don’t be afraid to start over during the setup for lighting.
Chapter 9 is a relatively short chapter. In it, Schroeppel talked about a very important topic—the planning and shooting of a sequence. A concept covered by the previous module is reiterated and that is to always plan before actually shooting. Planning involves considering the audience and the objective. It also includes coming up with a script and/or a storyboard. In addition, having a proper organization is important as well. Slates are useful for organizing the different shots one has. Shooting out of sequence is usually more convenient and requires less work. However, one can’t always expect things to work out as one wants, so it is important to communicate with others on the filming team and be prepared to deal with unexpected situations.
Research to Inform:
The following are two story-telling videos I found inspiring and well produced:
- Steve Jobs – Apple CEO | Mini Bio | BIO
This video is well produced because while many of its b-rolls are images, the producer is able to keep the video engaging. This is possible because the film utilizes L-cuts, so the interview flows well with the b-rolls. The images are also well chosen, especially the old image that showed San Francisco’s Golden Bridge. The background music is also well chosen and edited. It had a brief pause and switched to a more solemn music when the narrator is talking about Steve Jobs’ retirement and death.
- What do I desire? (Inspired By Alan Watts) – Nominated Documentary Short Film by Naseh Jrab (2015)
This video is well produced as it starts with a powerful quote that ties well with the topic. The b-rolls are well chosen and match what the narrator is saying. The shots were well done too, and the shallow depth of field was utilized very nicely. I especially like how the producer actually freeze the clip right when he said stop at 1:37. The background music is well chosen. At a couple instances, it may feel like the music is as loud as the narration, but it does not distract the audience. The volume of the narration also fits well with the tone of the film.
This is one video that I found to be good overall but have some flaws:
- Good Dinner – Short Documentary Film
This video is good overall. Its story is good. It also shows how the restaurant’s owner, employees and customers think about the restaurant closing down. The music and the ambient noise included were well-chosen. However, the first 40 seconds were a little dry as there was no narration, so the audience does not know the topic of the documentary until later in the film. Its lighting was good overall, but there are some scenes, such as at 2:35, that the lighting was poor. To fix it, the producer could probably move the interviewee to somewhere inside the restaurant that has a better lighting. The editing was also a little poor as there were jumps in the video, such as at 1:06 and 3:45, which can be fixed by including more b-rolls.
Here is my pre-production planning document for the mini documentary/biography/news story:
I wasn’t able to get as much done for this project this week as I was busy with packing and moving. I did start to look for images and music that can be used for my video. I have also scheduled to interview Wendy this Monday. I plan to do the other shots I need on Monday. This should leave me with enough time to edit and put everything together and do additional shots if needed before the deadline on this Friday.