The first step is to plan and shoot the audio-video recordings. This requires articulation of goals and practical plans so as to ensure proper audio-video quality, cultural content, and linguistic quality. One also needs to assemble a team on the ground who have the requisite combination of technical, linguistic, cultural and pedagogical expertise to produce the needed quality of picture, sound and content.
The key to good cinematography lies in composition. Documentary filmmaking presents a broad ranges of situations in which one has varying degrees of control over composition – exactly how much is determined by one’s approach and aesthetic priorities. In interviews and reenactments, the cinematographer often has time to assess the location and make adjustments off camera, whereas in observational filming, where reality unfolds before the camera, good cinematography requires one to respond quickly, appropriately, and creatively to changing composition. In both instances, there are several variables that one can manipulate to achieve the best results. These are:
Framing (spatial composition) Exposure (brightness/darkness) Color Balance Focus Movement
Insert: Bruce Lee Quote about Jeet Kune Do “You must learn the methods to break them.”
One of the first conventions of spatial composition is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine the frame divided into a 3×3 grid:
One’s inclination might be to frame the “center of interest” in Box E, but to many this composition appears static. Thus, cinematographers often try to position the center of interest slightly off-center, either along the horizontal and vertical lines, or ideally where they intersect (points 1-4).
Headroom (the space between the top of someone’s head and the top of the frame) is a second way cinematographers control composition. Too much headroom can appear awkward and amateurish. How much is too much depends on the type of shot. In a close-up, the subject’s eyes are usually positioned 1/3 of the way down the frame, slightly off-center (point 1 or 2 on the diagram above), which leaves little to no headroom. However, in a longer shot, emphasizing the background over the subject, it is acceptable to have more headroom.
Using this method, the are at the intersection of the lines (1,2,3,4)
Headroom Noesroom Movement (Camera, Internal) Center of Interest (Converging Lines) Diagonals Level Image Steady
Helpful Tips For Good Images:
When recording video it is crucial to capture audio in the clearest way possible. Often the built-in microphones on camcorders is not sufficient to capture high-quality audio from the scene. The use of an external microphone is highly recommended for all high-quality video recording. There are a number of ways to capture audio using non-built-in devices, these include:
Filming an interview is more than just filming someone answering questions. It requires a good interviewer, who understands the social aspects of interviewing and can make the interviewee feel at ease.
Interviews are usually best shot in the following compositions:
A Note on Wide Shots (WS): A wide shot emphasizes the space instead of the subject. In many cases, the subject’s whole body is included in the frame. Wide shots are generally not appropriate for interviews because we cannot easily see the Interviewee’s expression. There are, however, times where a wide shot is appropriate for an interview. When there is something of special importance in the background, and it cannot be framed in a closer shot, then it is appropriate to use a wide shot for the interview.
In addition to the interview itself, it is important to get other shots:
If you are shooting more than one interview, try to alternate where you place Interviewee in the frame, from left to right.
First find a suitable Interviewee. The best interviewees are passionate and articulate when they speak. If you get bored listening to someone, chances are the audience for you film will be bored too! If it’s possible to do so, have the Interviewee sign an Appearance Release before you begin filming. If it’s not possible, do it after the interview. An Appearance Release gives you permission to use the footage you shoot.
The camera operator should always start recording button before the Interviewer begins asking questions. To guarantee this, Interview should NEVER start asking questions until the camera operator gives the signal. The camera operator should not move the camera or use the zoom while the Interviewee is speaking, unless there is reason to do so. If you want to change the image size, do your adjusting while the Interviewer is asking his or her next question. Some appropriate times to move the camera or zoom during an interview are: