Welcome back to another exciting episode of What The Heck is Ross Talking About? Not really. If you’ve followed me for the last 9 weeks, then you probably have a decent idea of what I’m talking about. If you do, well done!

Time to roll camera! (literally and literally!)

We’re ready to roll camera! So, now what? Well, by now we would have decided if there would be any camera motion. For these interviews, we’ve added our Dana Dolly (aka Zuul), which puts the camera on wheels to move it back and forth along a track. This will really add some spice to the look. 

Where do I look?

Next, we’ve got to decide on where the interviewee will look. Most of the time, we will have them looking off camera. If they are looking into the camera, it’s just awkward, unless they are addressing the audience/viewer directly, in which case it makes perfect sense.

Who does what?

The real challenge comes in delegating all of the jobs. Really? Just press record on the camera you idiot! You’re complicating this too much!!! Am I?

Let’s talk through it and see if by complicating the process a little bit, we simplify things in the long run.

Let’s talk about the different jobs.

Ideally, we will have 3 or more people on set while the camera is rolling. First, is the camera operator. Someone has to start and stop the camera. For this interview, that will be me. I will also be making sure the exposure is set correctly and that our interviewee is in focus. In addition to that, I will be running the audio recorder; making sure that both microphones are on and armed and making sure that the sound level is right and that they are not too loud as to cause distortion. The other thing is that I will be monitoring the directors monitor to make sure our interviewee looks good and that we are able to get the responses we need.

Job #2

Person number 2, in this case, it will be Jacob, is taking care of slating each shot. Whatting? Slating. We’ve all seen in movies or behind-the-scenes stuff where they have the clapper board and they slap it. What purpose does that serve? Simple, we just do that to look impressive! If we have a clap board, our clients will automatically associate us with Hollywood. Not really… I wish that were the case, but, alas, there is a purpose behind it.

So, let’s break this down simply. The slate is covered with information about the shot. Duh… We can see that, Ross.

Yeah, but, you probably don’t know what all that information is or why it’s on there. IT’S ALL ABOUT ORGANIZATION! The better prepared we are up front, the more time (and money) we save in the end.

Great… Now tell us what all that mumbo-jumbo means.

Okay, you’re forcing my hand. A lot of what is on this slate, we don’t use. Some of it goes back to film cameras or are for instances where there are a lot of media cards being used and that’s not normally the case for us. For us, we’ll stick with the basics: scene, take, camera.

Project and Director

We do fill out the project name and director, but, that’s more just for fun.

Scene

The scene block is broken down into two parts: the scene number and the shot number in an alphanumeric way. In this case, we’ll be going with “#.#” (no, that’s not supposed to be some kind of emoji or hashtag, the # represents a number). The first number is the scene number and the second number is the shot number.

Take

In the take spot, that is what you would assume it is. If there are various takes, then you number them.

Camera

The camera spot simply tells us what camera(s) the footage was shot on. You would think we would just know that, but, when you’re running multiple cameras and some of them are naming the files the exact same, it’s a massive help.

Great. Tell us about the clapping part. That’s all we really wanted to know…

Slap-Chop Clap

Simple, that provides a point of synchronization. We will have an audio spike that we can visually see in our software and match it to the picture where we see the clap actually happen

3rd Person and the Log

Let’s discuss the third person. This one doesn’t always happen for us, being a two-man crew, but, we take them when we can get them. The third person does what we call a shot log. Basically, every time the slate goes up in front of the camera, the a new line item gets written in with the slate information. This does a couple of things: it helps keep a written log of every shot with the settings and such on the camera, plus we have the added benefit of having a list of all of the shots so we know, in the post process if we’re missing something. It’s not a perfect process, but, it’s massively helpful.

The other big part of the log is adding comments about what we like about each take and parts that we thought were the best.

The DIT Station
(no it’s not a space ship)

So, the last part of this all, before we tear down, pack up, and load the trailer is offloading our footage. The way we take care of this is that we set up a laptop and hook up a couple of hard drives to dump the footage onto. A main drive and a backup. We use a piece of software that, when it dumps the footage it verifies the quality of the copy and sends it to multiple locations. This is mostly for the safety of the footage. It seems like a bit of a pain, but, it’s totally worth it if you’ve ever had a hard drive failure (not to name names, but, WE have had several Seagate and Western Digital failures this year alone).

That’s a Wrap!!

Last, we pack up all of our stuff and head back to the studio for the editing (assuming we haven’t died of exhaustions)!

I know this has been a lot, but, we’re hoping that it’s providing you with value and knowledge, or just something to breakup whatever boredom you happen to be dealing with.

Next week we jump into the mystical post production. Cool stuff, but, it might get a little heavy. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible while still imparting on you the importance of every step.

You can check out last week’s post here, and next week’s here, available 12/19/16

If, at any point you have any questions, please email us at info@hamilbrosstudios.com or you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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