01-02-2008, 03:36 AM
My cousin is heading off in a week with Oaktree to help produce/edit some educational segments for them, and I was wondering if any one EFP savvy has any tips or resources for shooting and editing great shortform educational pieces. Online or dead tree, although online may be more useful in the long term.
Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. He's shooting on essentially zero budget, so it will be worth assuming the camera and sound gear are prosumer at best as is the post situation.
01-03-2008, 11:07 AM
Your cousin can get good results even from prosumer 3-chip DV cameras if he can handle it well. It he needs to work from a script or storyboard, then a simple, inexpensive software like Final Draft AV would really help him to write it, and submit it to the client. Even with an educational segment, a good storyline is essential. It should hook the audience quickly, and then progress rapidly to keep them attentive.
For support he'll need a decent tripod, and an inexpensive shoulder brace for mobile shots. Various manufacturers make affordable LANC pistol grips that can mount on the handle of the shoulder brace, and will enable him to start/stop, rack focus, and variable speed zoom on the grip. The same pistol grip can be attached to the handle of the tripod to control the camera through smooth tripod moves.
All camera moves should be deliberate and professional - smooth. Zooming should be kept to a minimum - walk to the framings if possible. A wide variety of b-roll should be shot at each setup. When you get in post it will come in real handy - in fact be critical.
Someone will need to construct a decent graphic package for the production. If the educational institution has PhotoShop-ready graphic files of their logo, and other items you'll be covering, that will help your cousin. If not, he'll have to make them and run them by the client for approval.
Time is money. On educational projects it is easy to get cornered into shooting a lot more than you need. He needs to know when to shut that off - professionally and assertively.
Audio will be critical. I assume there will be several interviews involved. If its a prosumer camera with XLR inputs fine, if not, then an inexpensive dual XLR breakout box will be needed (Beachtek, etc.). Interview audio should be hardwired when possible via a lapel mic, and since it is easy to clip the audio on prosumer cameras, and using on-camera limiters, he'll need to monitor the on-camera audio levels closely. I'm assuming by your budget comments that he won't have the luxury of a small field audio mixer. Interviews, covered with b-roll, buy you a lot of time in post. They're super valuable. That said, some people are really bad on camera. He shouldn't waste his time with them, but rather shoot a bit, shut down, and move to someone who is better on camera. He also needs to give them good "looking room" and "head room" in the interview framings.
Lighting in a mobile environment, with interviews and multiple setups, will be a challenge. An adjustable, on-camera 5600k or 3200k LED softlight would help. If he has the time and crew, he should also set up a quick key and fill - mini-softboxes would be the ticket.
Whatever is covered as key points in the interviews will also need to be shot as b-roll to do insert edits with in post. He'll need to take the time to do that.
Photos that can help tell the story should be scanned or shot while he is on-site.
In post, the pace and tempo that the subject matter calls for is critical. If the segments lag, you lose the audience. The cut needs to carry the storyboard effectively, have pace, be interesting, and feature a good mix of music (royalty free), interview pieces covered by b-roll, graphics, and a solid close/wrap-up. Credits need to be accurate and double checked.
Your cousin should have a written contract for his work to avoid "feature creep", where clients keep asking for additional features and "bells & whistles" in the segment. He needs to assertively and professionally remind them that they get what they pay for. There should be review and sign-off clauses in his contract, whereby at various stages of the production the client signs off on the work to that point - script, graphic package, music, credit list, rough cut, final cut, master, etc.
Hope the above helps. Almost everyone who has done EFP work for any length of time has done some small productions like your cousin is doing. If he follows the advice above, and treats the production like it is supposed to be treated (professionally) he should do fine - even with a limited budget.
Your cousin will need to be equal parts artist, techie, manager, and journalist to pull the project off effectively as a one man band - but it can be done and many do this type of production regularly.
01-03-2008, 08:57 PM
Thank you so much, I'll forward this along!
01-03-2008, 09:50 PM
Thank you so much, I'll forward this along!
Good on ya mate!