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Making Movies: Lights, Camera, Action!

This was a really wonderful, all-encompassing talk by Sean Robinson and Kaye Gregg from the Allen County (IN) Public Library. They had worked together on a cool zombie video that won an InfoTubey award earlier this year, so I was sure they’d know their stuff, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve heard others discuss how to take a video that was shot quickly with an inexpensive digital camera and use software to edit it. This session, tho, was all about shooting the video in a more planned-out, professional manner. You wouldn’t have to be rich or own lots of fancy equipment to benefit from it, however. Here are some of the many great tips the duo shared for making great-looking videos:

  • For the best lighting, shoot in the morning or evening, but not at mid-day.
  • Shoot some still photos at the time & location you plan to make the video so you can see how the lighting will look.
  • Make your participants feel at home so they’re more comfortable when the cameras start rolling.
  • Combine lights from various angles to get good lighting, especially on faces.
  • Secure the area before your shoot so you don’t have people walking through your scene.
  • Be aware of the locations of security cameras or sensors so you don’t set off any alarms, especially if you’re shooting after hours (ie, in an empty library at night).
  • Be very careful about microphone placement to achieve the best sound.
  • Hold a written script just under the video camera so the actors can read it while still looking at the camera.
  • Use people who are natural hams; who are unafraid of the camera.
  • Layer your audio and video to build a soundscape piece by piece.
  • If you can’t get good audio recording during the shoot, then record that seperately and dub it in later.

All of their advice related back to planning — careful planning makes for better work. And since they practiced what they preached for their own presentation, it’s no wonder that these experts put on such a good show themselves.

~Kathy Dempsey


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