Marguerite was going to start publishing quick dance tutorials on her website DenverDance.net to help get some traffic to her site as well as keep the content on her page fresh. Her idea was to film herself in her living room and posting to youtube. I thought that would be cool, but I wanted to help out. I tend to do projects for other people over myself, but this would give me a chance to keep practicing the film making process. I have not done anything with dialog ( outside of the built in mic of my Canon XL1s ) so this would be a great learning experience for me. I have a shotgun mic and a Zoom recorder that I have not used yet so this was the time to get it going.
The goal was simple: film the dance she will be teaching and then film the instruction. Because she wanted to do a tutorial a week, we filmed 5 tutorials of hip hop steps. We used my studio as the setting, which proved to be troublesome ( Ill get to that ).
I set the camera up in a good place to get decent lighting and enough room for Marguerite to dance around. I set up my “video village” which is just a HDTV connected to my Canon 5DmII via HDMI cable. My friend Jason was coming by, but he had to wash his hair or something so he was not there yet. I placed my mark in a crack in the floor so that it would not be visible in the final shot. I could have used a tiny piece of gaffers tape and no one would notice, but just in case, I hid it. The spot I chose read F2.8 coming from camera right. Camera Left read way less. In the monitor it looked fine, but I wanted to have less contrast on her right side so I grabbed my florescent lights and build, what I like to call, a light wall. I moved the distance of the light wall so that it was out of the shot, yet bright enough to fill in the shadow detail. The light was up to 2.0.8 so it was pretty good. Here is a quick video of the set up. Notice the video village at the start of the shot and the talent sitting in the background waiting for me to get it all set up. I should have been spinning plates on sticks at the same time to be really impressive.
You may have noticed the color temperature of the lights is not consistent and it was not the same as the sun, but I had a Spyder Cube that I used to get the color balance of the subject. I keep taking the skills I learned in photography and applied them to film. I found the color balance worked out for what I was doing and it was a tutorial in a studio so we were not expecting perfection. Also, the camera was on the lower ground area so it made the angle to the subject more to what I wanted. If I didn’t have that lower platform area I’d probably not have used the tripod so high.
Do You Hear That?
I was pretty happy with how the video image was looking. I wish I took some before and after shots with the lights on and off. It was not a huge difference, but enough to make a difference…..if that makes any sense. So this studio was not built for sound. Cement, windows, and being next to a rail yard or whatever that is behind us makes recording sound a nightmare. First off there was echo. We have had that problem since the beginning and Jason and I have talked about adding elements to the studio to help absorb it, but I didn’t have anything. I wish I remembered the echo because I could have brought some blankets and hung them up around the place to absorb the sound. I have never done that, but have read several sources saying that would help reduce it a lot. The second issue was outside. There was some truck being loaded with some material and the machines pumping the “substance” was creating a large hum. Add echo to that and you have a great background sound. Oh boy. Because this was a dance tutorial, I had to leave some head room in the frame so if she jumped she would not be out of the shot.That meant the shotgun mic couldn’t be that far down. I didn’t have a boom operator so what I did was take my boom arm for my strobes and taped the shotgun mic to it and pointed it at the subject area. I then placed my zoom recorder on the light stand. Check out the video for a look at what I did
Turning up the recording level on the recorder was tough because the humming in the background was overpowering. This is also new territory for me so learning how to properly record sound is a work in progress. Again, doing these small projects helps me learn the skills I need for my bigger ones.
Roll Camera…………………………………..Roll Sound…………………….
Ok testing of video and audio were complete. We were cooking with fire and Bob was our uncle. Action time. Being a 1 man crew, I had to basically do everything at first. Jason was not there yet so I had to make my final focus adjustments, roll camera, run and jump up to roll sound, slate the scene and run back to the monitor and yell action. Marguerite was really good at her part so we didn’t really have to do too many takes. After editing the first video, I did learn that I should pay more attention to the start and end of the scenes. I should have had her do something more with the intro to the instruction and had her hold her position at the end so I could fade out easier. Lesson learned.
I had a routine down and the recording was fine. Everything looked good and I wanted to get some shots of Marguerite’s feet for my fetish pay site err…I mean so people can watch the foot work for some of the dances such as the crip walk. I find that dance tutorials ( yes I do follow them religiously as I am eating ice cream sandwiches on the couch ) should show the feet for complicated moves. By complicated, I mean anything more complex than walking or faster walking. To keep each dance looking the same, I just took the camera off the tripod and placed it on a sand back at a different angle and focused on her feet.
I found the whole experience of the principal photography to go really smooth. Other than grumpy talent and having to wear multiple hats ( fabulous ones at that ) I had a great time.
The After Effect
Back at home base, I fired up After Effects and just doodled. I have no idea what that means, but that basically describes how I came up with the intro. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but other than that I just stare at the screen. I am not going to bore you with the details of the creation of this intro ( ummmm if you are still reading, then you deserve to know how I created it…drop me a line and Ill come over and show you ), but I just took a bunch of brushes in photoshop, created a grungy mask and layered them in the footage and background. Throw in a Twitch plug in from Video Co-Pilot, add in some cool sounds from R.A.P. ( band info coming soon ) and I have a cool intro to add to all the video tutorials. I bought a song from Premium Beats to lay down under the tutorial section so that it had a little more energy.
I continue to grow my skills in the various aspects of film making. hope my learning curve and processes help you in your film making as well. Add a comment if you have any questions or just to say hi. I write these blogs to help remind myself what I have done so that when Im old and the aluminum in my deodorant has brought on full loss of memory I have something to read.