Moving Pictures

The difference between still pictures and moving pictures was thrown into sharp focus recently when shooting a video tutorial for a colleague.

While the technical challenge was relatively easy to manage using a DSLR, it was the actual production process that presented the problem. A still image is straightforward, you capture a moment in time or several moments. There is no audio input and there is no need to create a script or storyboard.

The moment you start shooting a story, the need to rehearse become paramount. You may think you know what you’re going to say when the camera starts to rolling but the effect of that lens staring at you can lead to getting tongue tied or forgetting simple facts that you’ve known for years.

Of course with digital cameras, it’s easy to delete and go again, and again and again. But….it all costs time, both shooting time and post production time, as well as the sheer frustration of having to re-write anything prepared on a flip-chart or white board.

After three hours, we’d amassed a good 25 minutes of ‘footage’, which, after another few hours of editing, shrunk down to a useful training video of about 5 minutes. This may be normal in the world of moving pictures but for something that should be a simple as a short tutorial it wasn’t acceptable and we learned several important lessons:

1. Write down the key points and the way you want to put them over

2. Write a basic script – and don’t allow too much ‘ad-libbing’ as it’s easy to go off message and difficult to get back to the script.

3. Select any props you may need and get them in place.

4. Prepare any written work in advance to save time writing on film – unless it’s going to add anything significant, it’s more than likely just boring footage.

5. Likewise with any graphs, charts or other visual aids – if it’s really necessary to write on camera, then make notes or marks in pencil on a flip chart that you can trace over with a coloured pen so you are less likely to run out of space.

6. Make sure the presenter stays on their mark. Auto focus is not really an option with video if you are using a DSLR and the depth of field is fairly narrow unless you have high-end studio lighting.

7. Audio quality is vital and the mic on the camera is capable of picking up anything that the presenter is saying, it will also pick up directions or remarks from the┬ácameraman and any other ‘noises off’ in or around the room. A lapel or lavalier mic, preferably a radio mic, is a much better option. It is possible to record the sound onto a separate device to save space on the memory card but that can create a pile of extra work in syncing sound and vision in the editing stage.

8. Most important of all – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Unless you want the video to look deliberately amateur, time spent practising will reap huge rewards.

The process took me back many years to making movies in the ’70s and ’80s with a super8 cine camera, only this time the results are instantaneous and we are no longer limited to 3 minutes of film.

The experience has been enough for me to want in invest in the production of videos. As a way to sell services or drive traffic to a website there’s nothing better. Watch this space or see the website for more details.

Moving Pictures