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Basic Film Training Guide

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This is a basic guide on how beginners can develop a video documentary using very simple approaches

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Page 1: Basic Film Training Guide

Multimedia & digital content experts

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Basic guide for shooting & producing a video documentary

By Job O. N. Mainye

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3 Main stages in video production 1. Pre-Production2. Production 3. Post- Production

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Pre-productionCreate a plan from scratch:Mind map your purpose driven ideas & objectives for your documentary. Start with story telling to vision telling then describe them in writing

Know what’s been done before: (Online research, reading journals, preview produced documentaries to establish your objectives)

Set SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound objectives

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Plan your video: Think visually & verbally, do a guiding paragraph, understand messages & messengers or target audience

Create a shooting scripting: Start developing Video Outline using 5Ws & H – who?, where?, when?, what?, why? & how?

Prepare your interviewees: Get background information about them, book appointments, send questions in time, research about them, have their contacts

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Choose audiovisual content: Visuals to consider, audio or sound elements Find and use archival Footage: Historical footage, music aerial shots

Copyright act:Understand children rights, prohibited areas, “green zones”, and public filming guides for your country.

Finalize your shooting Script:Harmonize the visual and sound treatment of your script, balance your shots

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Location logistics: Prepare your filming crew, location background, distance and transportation

Choose equipment: Camera model, microphone model, etc Budget: Know your budget and stick to it, plan your financial budget in time and project any risks that may arise.

Other tools:Tripod, batteries, lighting equipment, mobile phones etc

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ProductionAt this stage we need to check out basic filming techniques, camera movements, shot compositions, lighting requirements to help create a great video.

More tips to help you avoid creating a bad video. We shall also continue to stress the importance of good and consistent audio, which can make or break a film.

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Holding Your Camera:Grip;You can start by getting the grip right. Hold the camcorder firmly with the grip strap tightened over your right hand and always use your left hand to steady and support the camcorder.

Stability;Keep stability in mind when shooting. You can support your elbows against your chest to help keep your hands stable. This may feel uncomfortable at first, but will soon be second nature when you’re filming, and it will really help stop a lot of camera shake

Moving With Your Camera:Walking;If you are walking forward keep your legs bent and your body lowered all the time, this will help you to avoid the rise and fall of normal walking.

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Crabbing;If you are moving sideways, or “crabbing” as it is sometimes called, again try to lift your feet in a slow-motion glide with your knees bent, crossing your leg behind or in front of you, letting one foot rest firmly on the ground before you move the other.

Tracking;You can use a vehicle, some kind of trolley or even a wheelchair or office chair to get smooth moving shots. Again, as with the static shots we talked about earlier, if you are sitting in something, use the arm rests or your knees to steady the camera.

Moving Your Camera:There are some basic camera movements which imitate the way that we move our head and eyes to look over a stationary object or to follow some action from a static position. Panning; Panning means moving the camera from a fixed point in an horizontal arc sideways.

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Tilting;Tilting means moving the camcorder from a fixed point in a vertical arc up and down. Just like when you are panning, hold a static shot at the beginning and at the end of the tilt for about 3 seconds so that your audience can register what they are looking at before the camcorder moves.

Hose-piping;Above all, avoid “hose-piping ” continually panning and tilting across a subject in an effort to cover it all. It’s much better to break the subject up into more than one shot.

Zoom and Focus:Zoom in for detail, Zoom out for context, Move nearer to subject for close-ups, Use zooms rarely

Focus; almost every camcorder is fitted with an auto focus facility. Auto-focus is best in situations of less activity. Manual focus is best with moving subjects, but should be used only after practice.

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Viewpoint and Direction:Viewpoint;Via your camcorder you are giving your viewers an insight into what is occurring. You can dictate whom the audience will identify with by the camera’s point of view.

Direction;When you are filming you should be aiming to collect images that when they are edited together will create a credible continuity to events or a sense of direction which the audience will be able to understand easily.

Composing and Framing Your Shots:Extra Long Shot, Long Shot, Medium Shot, Medium Close Up, Close Up, Extra Close Up, Primary Shot Movements;Zoom In/Out, Pan Left/Right, Track Left/right/forwards/backwards, tilt up/down

Remember; always try to hold still for 10 seconds before and after each movement and avoid “hose-piping”!

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COMPOSITION:Whatever subject you are filming, the classic concerns of composition–what is in your shot and where it is placed within the frame– are as important to shooting video as they are to photography and painting.

Framing;Good framing will largely go unnoticed by your audience but a badly framed shot is instantly recognizable.

Types of shot;As much of what you shoot will include people, it is a good idea to become familiar with the five main standard types of shot size which will be the most comfortable for your viewers to watch;Wide shot or establisher, long shot, mid shot, close up, tight close up.

Rule of thirds; A good guideline to follow for framing your shots well is the “rule of thirds”. The rule of thirds means that you should put horizontal or vertical lines, such as the horizon or someone standing in your picture along imaginary lines that divide the frame into thirds.

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Example showing rule of thirds

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Sound Elements:a. ALWAYS try to get 15 SECONDS of just sound per each

environment – this will come in handy during editingb. What you hear in your headphones (if applicable) is what

you’re recordingc. Clip-on mics are best for interviewsd. Protect mics against wind noisee. Always test your sound.f. Omni-directional mics favor the loudest soundsg. Point uni-directional mics directly at sound source

Built-in mic; Omni-directional, pick sound all over

Uni-directional mic; Far more specific in the sound that they choose to pick up, hence good for interviews

Clip-on mic; Make sure nothing is obstructing the sound, such as clothing, hair or jewelry when using clip-on

Acoustics & Wind noise

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Lighting elements:Learn how you can make the most out of natural and artificial light while filming. Regardless of what kind of camera or camcorder you have, the three sections – light, exposure and white balance – have general tips and tricks that can help you out.

Filming inside;If you are filming an interview in a room and there is plenty of sunlight coming through the window, sit with your back facing the window and sit your interviewee facing the light source so that the sunshine will light their face.

Filming outside;It is always best to try and keep your back to the sun rather than to shoot into it, although this won’t always be possible

Artificial Light;Hand-held lights

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