Tips on Filming

Keep the camera steady - It's important to keep the camera as steady as possible when you are filming. Hand-held shots which are too shaky can be hard to watch. If you can use a tripod to steady the camera, this is always best as it gives a firm platform for your filming. Make sure you get the tripod level by spreading the legs out wide and always be careful to lock the legs so the camera doesn't fall over. If you are going to hold the camera, try to rest your arm on something solid or anchor your elbow with your spare hand to provide a steady shot.

Different types of shot - Always get plenty of different shots to edit - try filming the same thing from different angles, with different shots.

There are static shots (close-up, mid and wide). These can often be cut together to give a sense of movement. There are zoom shots (zooming in or out between close-up, mid or wide). Zoom in to a close-up for emphasis. Zoom out to show perspective. There are pan shots (moving side-to-side). Pan shots are good to show juxtaposition and location. And there are tilt shots moving up-and-down. Tilt shots can be useful to show how big something is or what the scale of something is. With zooms,tilts and pans always try to keep a few seconds of static filming at the start and the end so they are easier to edit. Also try not to make the movement in the shot last too long as this can be hard to edit - five seconds is usually a maximum.

Sound - most video cameras just have a small microphone that is built in. Remember that the microphone records everything it hears - not just the things you want it to hear. So if you are filming in a noisy place, you may not be able to hear people speak clearly (unless you hold the camera very close to them). So with interviews or any sound you want the viewers to hear clearly, you'll need to find a quiet place where background noise is intrusive or distracting.

Some cameras come with a detachable microphone that you can plug in and this can be really good to concentrate the sound to the speaker above the background noise.

Lighting - Although most video cameras are quite flexible and will adjust to filming inside and outside, it's always best to be aware of the light when you are filming. If you are indoors, try switching on the overhead lights in the room to give you a better picture. The camera will always concentrate on the brightest thing it can see - so take care not to point the camera directly at a window if you're filming inside. And if you are filming outside in sunshine, be aware of whether the sun is shining into the camera. If you are filming in the dark you could try to add extra lights with torches etc.

Framing- try to get a variety of different shots from close-up, to mid-shot, to long-shot. Try to fill the frame with the subject or the action. Keep the subject or action in the centre of the frame. Be aware of backgrounds - what is going on behind the main action? Will it enhance the interest of the shot, or will it be distracting? You may need to move the camera in order to ‘clean up' the background and exclude the things that are intrusive and distracting. Most filming is at eye-level with the subject. But occasionally, you may want to consider going above the subject or even below, in order to get a more interesting shot.

Interviews -Framing - usually the interviewee is framed in close-up or medium close-up. This will put the viewer's focus directly on them and what they are saying. It's good if you can also frame the shot to show background that illustrates the scene of the story, but be careful not to let it distract from what the interviewee is saying.

Try to keep the recorded part of the interview short. Long, rambling, wide-ranging interviews are often of little use to TV News journalists working to tight deadlines. They are looking for short, pithy, well-delivered answers, something that makes the point in a clear, concise, coherent way.

To get these sorts of answers, it's important to ask the right sorts of questions and to have an idea going into the interview of what sort of areas you would like the interviewee to talk about in the structure of the story.

Appearing on camera - It is also very common for the reporter to do a “stand-up” or “piece-to-camera” in a report. This will usually add to the authority of the report by locating the reporter at the story. It also provides the reporter with an opportunity to add some script to the story without the need for relevant covering pictures.

It should be framed so as to illustrate the location - often a wider shot than that used for the interview. The best stand-ups are those that are used by the reporter to illustrate something - to point at something or demonstrate something. Sometimes the reporter will walk and talk at the same time like a sort of guide to show the viewer aspects of the scene he or she is in. However, these are hard to do well and require confidence and experience.

Learning your lines - Different reporters have different styles and habits for how they do them. Some will just speak off the cuff. Some will have three or four key bullet-points written out to help them. Some will write the entire report and learn their words. Some will write them out and read them from a cue sheet (placed just off-camera). Some will even record their words into a dictaphone and then plug this into their ear (hiding the earpiece from the camera) and then play it back, repeating their own words from their earpiece into the camera.

Take care with your appearance. Unusual or untidy clothes or hair can be distracting.

Always check the recording for both sound and vision immediately after filming.

Sequences - filming sequences is very important in trying to get a narrative flow to your story. But in order to get enough material, you will need to film the action from a number of different perspectives and in different ways, so that you have a range of shots from which you can build a visual picture of the sequence of events. Try filming something simple such as someone entering a room and sitting down, or getting out of a car and walking into a building, or making a cup of tea. Cut-aways - are shots that are essential for editing. They are shots that connect other shots and prevent “jumps” in the action. They allow you to shorten the portrayal of an event, stopping the action at a certain point, focussing momentarily on a detail of it and then cutting next to a point further on in the action. Typically, cut-aways can be close-ups on some sort of detail, or with interviews they can be shots of the reporter nodding and listening to the answer of a question, or asking a new question.

Location safety - be careful out there! Filming in public places puts an extra responsibility on you to look after both your safety and the safety of others around you. So, always try to work with someone when filming, so the other person can look after you when you are looking through the camera. Always take great care with cables and cords - don't trip people up. Always take care not to block access and to be aware of the flow of people around where you are filming. Be careful when carrying and lifting - if you have to walk some distance with the equipment, make sure you can carry it without hurting yourself or damaging it.





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