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Chapter 3.  Special Event Filming

Chapter 3.  Special Event Filming

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3.1.Interviews

What'sgreataboutaninterviewisthatyouknowit'scoming.

You'vegottimetosetupyourtripod,arrangethelighting,and

connectanexternalmicrophone,asdescribedinChapter2.(Do

allofthisbeforeyoursubjectarrives,bytheway,sincenothing

makesaninterviewsubjectmorenervousthanhavingtosit

aroundbeforehand,justgrowingapprehensive.)Because

you'vegotthisextratimetoplanahead,there'snoreasonyour

interviewfootagecan'tlookalmostidenticalinqualitytothe

interviewsyouseeonTV.

Chapter2describesthebasicsofgoodcamcorderfootage.Well,

inaninterviewsituation,thesametipsapply.Lightingis

important:avoidhavingthebrightestlightbehindthesubject's

head.Soundiscritical:fastenatie-clipmicrophonetoyour

subject'slapelorcollar.

Aboveall,useatripod.You'llbegladyoudid,notonlybecause

thepicturewillbestable,thuspermittingtheaudiencetoget

more"into"thesubject'sworld,butalsoforyourownsake.

Eventhelightestcamcorderisadragtoholdabsolutely

motionlessformorethanfiveminutes.

Butinterviewsoffersomeadditionalchallenges.Ifyou'veever

studiedinterviewsonTV,suchasthe60Minutesinterviewsthat

haveairedeverySundaynightsince1968,yourealizethatthe

producershavealwaysthoughtthroughthesequestions:

What'sthepurposeoftheinterview?Theanswer

affectshowyoushootthescene.On60Minutes,the

purposeisoftentodemonstratehowguiltyorshiftythe

subjectis.Brightlightsandablackbackgroundhelpto

createthisimpression,asdotheultra-closeupsfavoredby

the60Minutescrew,inwhichthecameraiszoomedinso



tightthattheporesonthesubject'snoselooklikethe

cratersonMars.

Ininterviewsthataren'tdesignedtobeespecially

incriminating,however,thepurposeoftheinterviewisoften

togettoknowthesubjectbetter.Thesettingyouchoose

cangoalongwaytowardtellingmoreofthesubject's

story.Settheinterviewsomewherethathassomemeaning

for,ortellssomethingabout,yoursubject.Ifit'saCEO,

shootitinherofficeacrossherhandsomemahoganydesk;

yourwideestablishingshotwilltelegraphtoyourviewers

justhowmagnificentthisofficeis.Ifit'syourgrandfather,

shootitinhisstudyorlivingroom,wheretheaccumulated

mementosontheendtablessuggesthislifetimeof

experiences.(Whenpossible,getthesecutawayand

establishingshotsbeforeoraftertheactualinterview,soas

nottooverwhelmyourintervieweeorwastehistime.)

Who'sgoingtoaskthequestions?Inprofessional

interviews,ofcourse,thecamerapersondoesn'taskthe

questions.Onepersonoperatesthecamera,whileanother

conductstheinterview.Ifyoucanarrangetohaveabuddy

helpwithyourinterview,it'llgoalotbetter.She(oryou)

canchatwiththesubjectwhilethelightsandmicrophones

arebeingadjusted,forexample.

Ifyou,thecamcorderoperator,absolutelymustdoubleas

theinterviewer,takeyourmicrophonesituationinto

account.Ifyoursubjectiswearingatie-clipmicrophone,

thenyourquestionswillberecordedverysoftly,asthough

comingfromfaraway.Ifyou'renotusinganexternal

microphone,you'llhavetheoppositeproblem.Sinceyou're

standingrightnexttothecamera,thesoundofyourvoice

willbeveryloudonthefinishedtape,inunfortunate

contrasttothemuchfaintersoundofyoursubject'sreplies.

Youcanusuallyfindsolutionstoalloftheseproblems.For



example,youcanuseasingle,omnidirectionalmike(see

page42)thatsitsbetweenyouandyoursubject.Oryou

couldconnecttwoexternalmikestoyourcamcorderbyway

ofaportablemixer,whichaccepts(andletsyouadjustthe

volumeof)severalinputssimultaneously.(RadioShackand

video-equipmentWebsitesselltheseitems.)



Tip:Ifyouareboththecameraoperatorandthe

interviewer,andyoudecidethatyouwanttobeon-camera

alongwithyourinterviewsubject,usetheremotecontrol

thatcomeswithmostcamcordermodels.OpentheLCD

screenandrotateitsothatit'sfacingyouasyousitinfront

ofthecamerathat'stheonlywayforyoutoframetheshot

whenyou'renotactuallystandingbehindthecamcorder.

Istheinterviewerpartoftheinterview?Inother

words,willtheaudienceseethepersonaskingthe

questions?Ifso,you'vegotachallengeonyourhands.

You'vegottwopeoplesittingacrossfromeachother,facing

oppositedirections,butonlyonecameratofilmthemwith.

Ifyoueversawthe1987movieBroadcastNews,youknow

howTVprofessionalssolvethisproblem.Beforeorafterthe

interview,theycapturesomeestablishing-shotfootageof

thetwopeoplesittingtherefacetoface.Theyalsotake

somefootageoftheintervieweralonenoddingsagelyin

agreement,smilinginunderstanding,frowninginconcern,

andsoon.Theyfilmhimaskingthequestionsagain,even

aftertheinterviewsubjecthasleftthescene.Later,when

editingthefinishedproduct,theysplicethesereactionshots

intotheinterviewfootage,asyoucandoiniMovie.The

audienceneversuspectsthattheentireinterviewwasshot

withonecamera.

Ontheotherhand,inmanyinterviews,youdon'tseethe



intervieweratall.Youhearhervoice,butyoudon'tseeher

on-camera.(Adisembodiedvoicelikethisiscalledavoiceover.Voice-oversareextremelycommoninTVads,movies

withnarration,andepisodesofTheWonderYears.)

Sometimesyoudon'tseeorheartheinterviewer,suchas

whentheproducerjustwantsacommentorsoundbite

fromtheinterviewsubject.Inthosesituations,inviteyour

subjecttophrasehisanswersascompletesentences.

Otherwise,afterthequestionshavebeeneditedout,you'll

beleftwithaninterviewsubjectsaying,"Yes…that'sright…

no,Idon'tthinkso,"andotherunhelpfulutterances.



Tip:Ifyou,theinterviewer,willultimatelybeeditedoutof

themovie,youcangreatlyassistyourowncauseby

framingyourquestionscleverly.Avoidyes-or-noquestions.

Don'task,"Wereyouhappywithyourperformance?"

Instead,ask,"Tellusabouthowyoufelt,"for

example.That'swhatprofessionalsdo.Nowyouknowwhy,

whenasked"YoujustwontheOlympics.Whereareyou

goingtogonow?"nobodyintheDisneyWorldadseverjust

says,"DisneyWorld!"

Howlongwilltheinterviewbeafterediting?Ifthe

finishedproductwillbemorethanacoupleofminuteslong,

thinkaboutkeepingyourviewers'interestupbyintroducing

somevarietyintothecamerawork,asdescribedinthe

previouschapter.

Capturesomewideshots,forexample,foruseascutaways.

Thatway,whenyouedittheinterviewiniMovie,you'llbe

abletoofferarefreshingchangeofshotnowandthen.

Cutawaysarealsoidealformaskingcutsintheinterview

footage.It'saconvenientfactoflifethatyoucan'tsee



somebody'slipsmovingwhenfilmingfrombehindthem,or

whenthecameraisfaraway.Inotherwords,youcanusea

cutawayevenwhileyourinterviewsubjectisstilltalking.

Yourviewerswon'tbeabletodetectthatthecutaway

footagewasactuallyshotatadifferenttime.(TVnews

editorsusethistechniqueallthetimetheybrieflycuttoa

shotbehindthesubject'sheadinordertoconcealanedit

betweentwopartsofthesameinterview.)

Howconservativeistheinterview?Theanswertothis

questionaffectshowyouframethesubjectinyourlens.

Someinterviewsaredesignedtobehip,liketheoneson

MTV,theBunting'sWindowcomputershowshownon

airplanes,orfightsequencesintheoldBatmanseries.

Thesemightfeatureahandheldcamera,offcenterframing,

orevenacameramountedoff-kilteronitstripodforthat

addedwackiness.

Ifwackinessisn'texactlywhatyou'regoingfor,however,

theframingshowninFigure3-1isaboutright.



Figure3-1.Asin

anyfootage,

interviewsshould

offersomevarietyof

compositionand

zoomamount.Butfor

maximumviewer

comfort,mostpro

videointerviews

capturethespeaker

fromshouldersup,

withalittlebitof

spaceleftabovethe

head.(Here,you're

seeingmoreofthe

subject'storso,just

soyoucanseethe

tie-clipmicrophone.)If

thesubjectis



supposedlylookingat

somethingoffcamerathe

interviewer,for

exampleprofessionals

leavesometalk

spaceintheshot.

Thatis,alittleextra

roominfrontofthe

person'sface,as

shownhere.



Howistheshotsetup?Inmostinterviews,theinterview

subjectdoesn'tlookdirectlyintothecameraexceptwhen

she'srecordingaLastWillandTestament.Usuallyshe's

lookingjustoff-camera,ataspotacoupleoffeettoone

sideofthecamcorder,orevendirectlyacrossthe

camcorder'slineofvision.That'swheretheinterviewer

shouldsit,sothatthesubjectlooksattherightspot

naturally.

Thecamcordershouldbelevelwiththesubject'sface,

whichisyetanotherargumentforusingatripod.



Tip:Ifyou'retheinterviewer,here'sonetipthathasnothingto

dowiththetechnicalitiesofyourcamcorderandtripod:Listento



theanswers.Manyinexperiencedinterviewersaresobusy

thinkingaboutthenextquestionthattheymissgolden

opportunitiesforfurtherlinesofquestioning.Worse,the

interviewsubjectwilldetectthatyou'renotreallypaying

attention,sotheinterviewwon'tgonearlyaswellasitcould.



3.2.MusicVideos

Fewcamcorderendeavorsareasmuchfunasmakingamusic

video,whetherit'saseriousoneorafakeonejustforkicks.

Ofcourse,yourinterestinthiskindofvideotechniquemay

dependonyourageandtaste.Butmusicvideosareworth

studying,nomatterwhoyouare,becausetheyfrequently

incorporateeveryconceivablecameratrick,editingtechnique,

andshootingstyle.Thedayyoushootamusicvideoistheday

youcantrypunchingeverybuttononyourcamcorder,

unlockingthoseweirdspecialeffectsyou'venevereventried,

andusingalltheunnecessaryzoomsyouwant.Betteryet,this

isthedaywhenyoudon'tcareawhitaboutmicrophonesor

sound.Eventually,you'lldiscardthecamcorder'srecorded

soundanyway.AsyouspliceyourfootagetogetheriniMovie,

you'llreplacethecamcorder'ssoundtrackwithahigh-quality

originalrecordingofthesong.



Figure3-2.Becauseyou

haveiMovie,youcanpulloffa

fascinatingvisualstuntthat's

verycommoninrockvideos:

thejumping-flea-musician

effect,inwhich,everyfew

seconds,everybodyinthe

sceneblipsintoanewposition

(orappearsanddisappears),

sometimesintimetothe

music.(You'reactually



creatingjumpcuts,whichyou

shouldavoidexceptwhen

creatingspecialeffectslike

this.)Creatingthiseffectis

simpleifyourcamcorderhasa

tripod.Justshooteach

segment,movingyour

musiciansaroundwhenthe

cameraisn'tmoving.IniMovie,

thespliceswillbeexactlyas

sharpandconvincingasthey

areonMTV(orBewitched).



Somemusicvideosarelip-synchedthatis,theperformers

pretendthatthey'resingingthewordsonthesoundtrack.Other

videosarevoice-over,narrative,orexperimentalvideos.In

thesevideos,youdon'tactuallyseeanybodysinging,but

insteadyouwatchastoryunfolding(orabunchofrandomlookingfootage).Ifyoudecidetocreatealip-synchedvideo,

takeaboomboxwithyouinthefield.Makesureit'splayingas

youfilmthesingers,sothatthey'relip-synchingwithaccurate

timing.

WhenitcomestimetoeditthemusicvideoiniMovie,you'llbe

abletoaddthelittlelower-left-cornercredits(thenameofthe

song,thegroupname,andsoon)withextremelyconvincing

results.You'llalsobeabletoaddcrossfades,transitions,

graphics,andothercommonrock-videoelements(seeFigure3-



2).



3.3.LiveStagePerformances

Filmingalivestageperformance,suchasaplay,musical,

concert,ordance,isextremelychallenging.Itposesfour

enormouschallenges:capturingthesound,gettingpower,

capturingthepicture,andgettingpermissioninthefirstplace.



3.3.1.GettingPermission

Atmostprofessionalperformances,themanagementdoesn't

permitcamcorders.Whetherunionrules,copyrightrules,house

rules,orsimpleparanoiaisatplay,thebottomlineisthatusing

acamcorder(oranycamera)isusuallyforbidden.

Thatleavesyoutwoalternatives:Confineyourfootageto

performanceswherecamcordersareOK,suchasthechoir

concertattheelementaryschoolorfilmsurreptitiously.(Asthe

sizeofDVcamcordersshrinksyearbyyear,thelatteroptionis

becomingevermorepopularamongpeoplewhodon'tmind

floutingtherules.)



3.3.2.CapturingtheSound

Whenyou'refilmingaperformancefromtheaudience,your

camcordergetshopelesslyconfused.It'sprogrammedtorecord

theclosestsounds,which,inthiscase,arethelittlecoughs,

chuckles,andseat-creaksoftheaudiencemembersaround

you.Thepeopleonstage,meanwhile,comethroughonly

faintly,withthehollowechothatcomesfromrecordingpeople

whoarefarawayfromthemicrophone.Asanycamcorderbuff

who'sfilmedherkid'sschoolplaycantellyou,theresulting

videoisoftenveryunsatisfying.



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Chapter 3.  Special Event Filming

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