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Retrospective School Play

Lesson Learned From a Successful Production

The following are my thoughts on filming a local drama group this past weekend. I recorded the playback in April and was invited back in November. I was better prepared for this filming after recording the first session. -

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What worked Well

Multiple Cameras - Originally, I had five cameras capturing the play. I wanted five cameras so that I could better capture the action on stage. I used one as the main camera, and the others to capture scenes that I might have missed.-

Why multiple cameras? well to paraphrase a famous sports quote - 'You don't want to let anything sneak through the crack, you don't want to forget anything, you don't want to miss anything, and you want to be perfect on that day. You don't get many chances to get that one shot."

Recording Audio via the system audio - I had an audio cable bag with all kinds of cable connectors. I captured the audio from actors who wore microphones. I can add the audio to the final clip using Final Cut Pro. The sound of the auditorium won't distract the show from the key parts of the show.-

Plenty of space on the cards - In this year's show I made sure that I had plenty of space on the cameras' SD cards. The main camera has a 256GB card, but at the last show, I had to run to the store between shows to buy more cards. Ideally, 256GB should be the minimum size card to use for a two-hour show.-

Plugged in the Video Camera - The video camera was plugged in so I didn't have to worry about its battery life. I had a spare battery, but I didn't need it. The other cameras I had didn't work when plugged in. In order to be safe, I changed the spare batteries for those cameras during intermission.-

GoPro Hero 9 Worked better this time - The camera didn't work at the last show because of overheating, so I bought a new battery and connected it to the power brick. I used a black one so it wouldn't be obvious. I also had a 256 GB memory card that holds 7 hours of 4K videos.

Here are some things I would do differently

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Learn more about the Canon A40 manual controls. I think I would have gotten better colors had I set the white balance on the Canon A40. I noticed other cameras were doing a better job with color correction. I plan to learn more about how to use the manual controls in order to get a better picture.-

Camera Levels - I was having trouble seeing if my camera shot was leveled. I don't know if there is a glow-in-the-dark level. There must be a better way to ensure my shots are level.-

Keep the iPhone separate - I took shots using my iPhone using a tripod magic arm. Overall, this worked well. However, every time I adjusted the tripod, there was some minor shake on the iPhone. This could be easily avoided if the iPhone was mounted on its own tripod. There are some drawbacks to the magic arm, but it is a great device.-

Watch more of the Show. During the dress rehearsal, I learned a lot about video challenges. I should have watched a couple of practices using a program so I would have known where to focus the camera. In order to prepare the right camera and angles, I should talk to the stage manager in advance.-

Bring the right lens. I had a DSLR and I brought a 70-300 lens, which I thought would be perfect, but it was too much. I should have packed an extra lens just in case. Based on the location, the 70mm lens is the better lens to use. My thought was that it doesn't hurt to bring a couple extra items. In case you need an extra bag, you can always have it in your car.-

Final Thoughts

Planing a shot is easier when you have to deal with the post-production work as well. You'll be better prepared for the challenges you may face later, such as dealing with color correction.-

It's a lot easier when you are the Producer and Director of your own project. Planning and post-production work will result in an amazing video for the drama group.

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