364MC: Professional Practice #7 – Research & Development: Camera Operator #2 – SNMJ Production Projects

In this post i will be discussing and detailing the projects i have worked on in regards to being a camera operator which spans over six years of media production. The first project i was camera operator for was a short film called ‘Ward 731’ where we had to create  a psychological thriller with a length cap of ten minutes, this was the first time i had the opportunity to film an entire production from start to finish.

Carefully crafting the storyboards and shooting scripts together the production folder from my side of the project had a in depth and substantial backlog of research and development around the genre of the film and how other films under the same genre were shot and crafted together. Considering the circumstances of the production where the main actress dropped out giving us just under one day to film the entire short film with crew members and close friends. From a critical standpoint looking at how the framing and shots were used throughout the film i can see a lack of knowledge about setting up a camera and professionally framing and focusing certain shots and sequences.

But considering this was my first project as a camera operator i slightly take pride in what i achieved at the time, the one on set mistake i made before undertaking multiple sequences is i didn’t check the presets on the camera and the white balance was over exposed throughout which became a problem when it came to the post production process.

(SNMJ Productions, 2013)

The second project i was designated camera operator for was called ‘The Higgins Bedford’ a factual documentary about a refurbished museum based in Bedfordshire, once we had confirmed with the museum that they would happily oblige in creating a documentary showcasing the new exhibitions that had been installed at the time.

With that being said i decided to visit the museum before production started to get a feel for how the production should be under taken through shooting scripts, extensive storyboards and watching similar promotional material for museums of the same caliber to get a feel for what to expect when making the project. With the limited equipment i had at hand in my two years of college we had only access to a video tape camera which we had to transfer to digital in post production, although it was one of the easiest camera’s to use it didn’t help when it came to capturing a cinematic feel which i planned from the beginning which we later had to change in post production.

One of the main challenges i had filming this documentary about the museum was filming the artefact’s behind glass panels and making sure the reflection could not be seen of the crew and the equipment, which at the time to only solution was to put the camera either left or right of the displays which helped when it came to post production to make the objects seem as if they are not being kept behind multiple glass panels. But overall this was the first documentary i had created and at the time quite proud of.

(SNMJ Productions, 2014)

The final project in college that i was camera operator for was my feature documentary about video game violence which required myself and a handful of individuals to interview lecturers, children and visiting Comic Con London where multiple game expo’s were taking place for upcoming games set for release later that year. Due to the project being the last we would put together the college gave us access to the Canon DSLR which were for final year students only.

This was the first time i had used a DSLR camera for a film project, leading up to the interviews and visiting London myself and the group at hand tried various techniques in regards to lighting when we invited the interviewee’s into the studio. Alongside that we also had a quick demonstration of how to adjust the ISO and a full breakdown of the menu’s and options available when filming. Throughout the test footage stage of the production we noticed how if the lighting was not correct there would a visible grain over the individuals or objects being recorded, to tackle this problem when we went out to film on location i brought a silver reflector to position under the subjects next to the camera lens which helped us eliminate any shadows on their face’s.

Looking back at the video and how it was shoot over roughly a month or so the production value that the camera and the pre production we had done in advance gave us a great understanding of what we wanted the final project to look like in the editing process, with that being said we got the highest grade possible which was a distinction and from that lead me to gaining access to study media production on a university scale.

(SNMJ Productions, 2014)

The first project i underwent at university was a documentary set in Birmingham about the culture and diversity over the past fifty years, going to solihull a heavily populated are of different race’s all coming together into one long stretch of food and clothes for sale from different parts of the world.

For this project we used a digital camcorder and a Canon 70’D which helped us in carrying equipment around the city centre and public transport, considering the majority of the documentary is shot via a small handheld camcorder it came out really well in post production with us locating and discovering multiple shrines and establishing shots to show the different cultures that have formed together over the years. Part of me wishes we shot the entire project via a DSLR due to the quality difference in some parts of the documentary and the amount of customisation that a DSLR offers compared to a default hand camera is substantial.

What i like about the pre production side of the project was instead of using storyboards being hand drawn we decided to use photo’s instead and implement arrows and numbers to incorporate how the actual shoots will be undertaken from Coventry station all the way to Birmingham new street. When it came to shooting in location in Birmingham we had been told that most of the city area was out of bounds for undertaking filming so we had to work ourselves around the outskirts and branching out to other area’s of Birmingham.

Considering this was my first project after leaving college with a four month break of no filming or media related work to bounce back and create this piece that showcase’s Birmingham’s culture and ever expanding population i believe we did a great job in showcasing that to outsiders who want to visit the area.

 

(SNMJ Productions, 2014)

The second project that i under took was called ‘People 2 People – Coventry’s Eye’s’ a short piece about a local photographer who does a variety of different photo shoots from modelling, landscapes and animals. The idea behind this project was to showcase and reach out to aspiring photographers and tell them a personal story about how this gentlemen became a photographer and what were he’s inspirations behind them.

In the pre production stages of this project i decided to shoot the short film in a similar style to what a photographer does by incorporating a mixture of stills and video of the subject and he’s photographs, i also liked the consistency of the project being around ‘personal’ only showing the subject and he’s camera in the majority which i believe helped the audience establish a vital connection to the subject and the story he was trying to get across in his opinion unfiltered and unedited.

Filming for this required me to be close and engaging with the subject while pointing a lens in his face for the majority and making him feel comfortable and relaxed to tell us the story we needed to depict on screen. A project i’ve never tried in previous filming scenario’s but worked really well in my opinion on capturing the subjects personality and point of view.

(SNMJ Productions, 2015)

The most up to date piece of work i’ve achieved under ‘camera operator’ was a ten minute short film called ‘Recall’ which was written by Michaela Knight, overall we spent over two months planning and filming the entire production, and without doubt is still one of my favourite pieces to date.

Using the Canon 70’D throughout the entire project defiently gave the production overall a cinematic look especially when it came to post production and the colour grading of the film made the colours really stand out especially with the sunny weather we had throughout causing no grain during the filming process. As it was a script written by another student we worked closely together to get a realistic take from paper to screen.

With endless amounts of shooting scripts, storyboards and research into the genre we were making into a short film defiently up to anti on the production value, not only that but directing actors and actress’s as the DOP defiently gave me an insight into how it would work on independent productions and major film shoots that hopefully i will be involved in the near future.

(SNMJ Productions, 2015)

References

SNMJ Productions, (2013). Ward 731. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-bMdQg7kzA&t=471s [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

SNMJ Productions, (2014). All Your Child Are Belong To Us. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uMnv0rbycA [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

SNMJ Productions, (2014). Birmingham ‘City Of Culture’. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3UkCbhcaLk [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

SNMJ Productions, (2014). The Higgins Bedford. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lVAH6_MaHQ&t=244s [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

SNMJ Productions, (2015). People 2 People – Coventry’s Eye’s. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q222IOcS504 [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

SNMJ Productions, (2015). Recall. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVisrrYXlv0 [Accessed 8 Mar. 2017].

 

 

 

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