Question by JoeCool: Any tips about filming an amateur high school film with a digital camera and edit with Windows Movie Maker?
Answer by Bill G
1) Best video quality is miniDV tape. You will import using the DV port over firewire cable to firewire port on computer. If you don’t have a firewire port, install one.
Next best quality is from hard drive based camcorders.
Worst quality is from DVD based camcorders.
2) If you have to pan (left-right-up-down), pan S L O W L Y. If you have to zoom, zoom S L O W L Y. Pay attention to the camera use on TV. Emulate what they do. Few to no pans; few to no zooms… any pans or zooms are typically very slow. Unless you want the audience to get ill like they did in “Cloverfield”.
3) Use a tripod. Try not to use the camera handheld. Humans were not built to be steady. Pay attention to the camera use on TV. Emulate what they do. Tripod, monopod, SpiderBrace/Shoulder mount. No handheld.
4) If the camcorder has a mic in-jack, use a decent external mic. If it does not, you must get the built-in mics close to the person speaking. That means getting the camera close to the person speaking.
5) Good light will really help… you can use lights you have around the house – or a work light… Mr Safety has good suggestions: http://youtube.com/watch?v=OePFgmyvnWo
6) PLAN the project. Write the script and storyboard it. The more you plan, and write that plan down, and stick to the plan, the easier it will be.
Shoot the scene several times…. when you think you have a good shot, shoot it again. And again. And again.
7) To have a conversation between two people – and only one camera, shoot the whole scene with the camera on one person… several times (see item 6). Then shoot the same scene with the camera on the other person… several times… (see item 6). Make the edits in post production so the conversation and the cuts go back and forth. This is called a “reverse”.
8) To do dolly shots without a dolly, see if someone has an office chair or wheelchair you can borrow… If you do this on the street or sidewalk, clear away ALL the rocks (no matter how small) with a broom. Have one or two people responsible for controlling traffic. Don’t be a jerk – you are crowding their thoroughfare – but be nice and polite and typically people will cooperate. Don’t block them for a long time – let them pass, then take a shot. Don’t be stupid and try this on a busy street.
9) SAFETY FIRST. DO NOT DO ANYTHING STUPID OR DANGEROUS. Plan and walk through the shot before taping. Will there be any consequences if we do _____? If the answer is “I don’t think so”, don’t do it. Do not “think” – “KNOW” and be confident you and your friends and everything else (including the camera or anything else that may or may not show up on the video) will be safe and undamaged – physically or emotionally.
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