Specialist Project – Filming


Filming the InterviewRadio Microphone

I’d arranged with the course leader for BA Acting to use the dressing room in the Studio Theatre. When originally planning for the documentary I’d always thought the ideal location would be to conduct the interview in front of a makeup mirror and this location appeared ideal. In fact better than I’d originally planned as the room has opposing mirrors. I also changed my original concept of filming in a room darkened except for the lights around the mirrors and instead went for a high key lighting approach overexposing where necessary to get this lighting effect.

My setup needed some modification as the lens I’d originally planned to use 50mm F1.8 did not have a wide enough angle to get the shots I had visualised so I switched to my 18mm to 55mm Zoom lens, which at its widest angle worked well. I set the camera to Manual and set Aperture to F4.0 and ISO to 3200. My Canon 60D uses Magic Lantern firmware, which allow greater control over the settings. I went with using my Rode Videomic for sound recording directly into the camera. I’d experimented with using Radio Microphones using Lavalier microphone or lapel microphones as they are more commonly known. These work surprisingly well but I felt they were unnecessary for this project as the interviewee would be close to camera and the ambient sound levels very low and any sound heard would be appropriate for the type of recording we were making.Radio Microphone

The Radio Microphones are actually allocated to Film Production but are available for us to use. You need to confirm frequencies that can be used as these have recently been changed/limited by the Digital Switchover. When I set these up for camera use I suspected they had been previously setup for stage management as the levels were much too high for camera use as was sensitivity, resetting these removed sound distortion and hum/hiss, in fact after adjustment the sound was of good quality picking up just the voice of the person wearing the Lavalier microphone excluding the ambient noise from other conversations in the room where the test had been conducted.

Camera Setup

Ben O'Shea

As the camera was aimed directly at the mirror, which was brightly lighted I decided to overexpose the mirror and set an aperture to give a shallow depth of field. I did this so that only Ben would be clearly in focus while Paula the makeup artist would appear blurred except for her hands and makeup brush. One of the effects I was aiming for was to get the seemingly endless images you get when positioned between two mirrors, which I got and as expected produced an interesting effect.

One negative with my setup was due to the wide aperture and shallow depth of field it was easy to lose focus. I could not set the focus once and lock the camera off but instead I was constantly adjusting the focus. Sometimes the focus was not as I’d wanted but instead of this being a technical issue this instead gave a warm/artistic effect that seemed to work well especially after colour balancing. Sometimes being out of focus works!

Armed with my set of questions and the shot list the interview progressed quickly but as expected even with few retakes I had to make the interview filming still took almost 2 hours to complete.

Filming the Technical Rehearsals ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

I’d arranged with the course leader for BA Acting to film the technical rehearsals of their production of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

I planned to film the dance sequence in its entirety with the idea to use this footage as transitions between the video clips from Ben’s interview while at the same time the music would be used as the soundtrack for the whole documentary.

I also filmed as much of the first act of the production as possible, with the idea of editing these together with some suitable Title Cards as a retrospective Trailer for the production and also to satisfy personal requests I’d received for video clips to be used in showreels.

Filming the Technical Rehearsals was both a benefit and a problem, the benefit was being able to film the cast in full costume and the problem was filming under the lighting levels available as these were generally too low really. I had to ramp the sensitivity of the cameras ISO up to 3200 again, which meant I was almost certainly going to get some visible noise on the video captured. Fortunately I overcame much of this by using big apertures F1.8 to F4.0 but this then brought it’s own problems by creating a very shallow depth of field. What this shallow depth of field means is that only a small area or part of a character in the production would be in focus. Those some distance away from the focus point would be blurred. I personally dislike moving DSLR’s to follow the action but I had no choice, this did mean that there would be some juddering movement. I also had to perform the almost impossible task of adjusting the focus while following the action.

Fortunately experience told me which parts of the performance to concentrate on in order to get the shots I would need for the documentary and for any other video edits I decide to make, for example a production trailer.

Screenshots from the video of Much Ado About Nothing

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