Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Troubleshoot your Shooting


With an HD camcorder in your possession, you have everything you need to make a box-office smash, says Bryan Michael Stoller, who has made more than 80 music videos, TV shows, and feature films. Of course, there will be hurdles on your Oscar track. Here's how to clear them.

Hurdle #1: The colors seem off
The fix: Reset the white balance, says Stoller. Switch your white balance mode from auto to manual, and then aim the lens at a white piece of paper, zooming in until the frame is completely filled. Hit the white balance button again or "OK."

Hurdle #2: Movie run time rivals a marathon
The fix: Get to the point. When you're stringing together clips, each should be truncated to the best 3 or 4 seconds. And unless it's a life event (birth, graduation, wedding), shoot to edit. Twenty minutes of raw footage should yield 2 minutes of finished product, advises Stoller.

Hurdle #3: Wind noise is wreaking havoc on the audio
Fix: Find a quieter spot and record a couple minutes of "room tone," which is simply ambient noise. Swap this in during edit, says Stoller, and your video won't sound wind scratched or awkwardly silent had you muted the audio altogether. This trick is good in other situations, too, like covering up Uncle Louie's f-bombs at the wedding reception.

Hurdle #4: Your clips are clipped
The fix: It takes about a second and a half to start capturing footage after you hit record, says Stoller, so you'll miss anything in the transition period. As a guideline, start recording 5 seconds before you think you'll need to, and keep rolling for 5 seconds after the action stops. Extra footage at the end also makes for easier editing.

Hurdle #5: Your scenes are bland
The fix: Pepper your movie with B-roll, suggests Stoller. Capture interesting people and objects from various angles and at different times. At the beach? Shoot surfboarders wiping out. At the carnival? Film close-ups of fair food and midway game operators. Sprinkle these in the edit for visual variety.


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