Further Considerations

But that isn't all there is to planning. No, not by a long shot. There is still much to consider before you roll an inch of tape or put laser to disc. A lot of this section relates to one part of the map or another, and all of it location, lighting, 'lectricity, and sound requires at least a passing thought as you plan your project.


If you have to shoot "on location," you want to maintain as much control over the environment as you possibly can. If you have a choice between shooting a conversation in a crowded restaurant or at your own kitchen table, you're far better off in your kitchen, where you can control external elements such as sound and lights.

If you must shoot in an "uncontrolled" environment, scout the location in advance and see what the challenges are. Some locations require specialized gear a taller tripod, a shotgun mic, a sun gun, or whatever and you won't have what you need if you don't scout.


Whenever possible, bring your camcorder and microphone on scouting missions and shoot as much test footage as you can. Check the tape carefully on an NTSC monitor, television, or Mac and the best speakers you have, for any sign of video interference or audio hum or buzz.


If you plan to shoot in a low-light situation, particularly outdoors, you're going to need a light or lights. We'll talk more about how important lighting is to the quality of your digital video in Chapter 4. For now, just remember that the better the lighting, the better your footage will look.


If you can, bring a small television set or a PowerBook (and all the cables you'll need to connect them to your camcorder) to your shoots. Use the TV or PowerBook to review your footage. Check the lighting, details, and colors carefully; a TV or PowerBook can display what you're going to see on the final DVD far more accurately than the little 3-inch display on your camcorder.


Are you going to need electrical power? If you end up having to rent lighting gear, how much of it will you be able to hook up without blowing a circuit? If you're considering lights, consider your electrical needs, too.


Location sound recording is extremely hard to do well with the built-in microphone in most camcorders. Built-in microphones are not very good at recording dialog, though they can be used effectively for capturing monolog and ambient sounds under ideal situations.


Consider buying or renting a lavaliere microphone or two, or a boom or shotgun microphone if you want to record quality audio in the field.

Beware of street noise, plumbing sounds, birds tweeting outside the window, heating and cooling vents, and things like that. They may not sound loud while you're shooting, but they're often quite audible when you play back your video.


Sometimes you can get away with muzzling a noisy pipe or vent with pillows, carpet, or other sound-deadening material. And sometimes you can just time your shots between their noises. But be aware of the audio environment if you hope to use audio from the field.

Remember what I said about lighting a few paragraphs ago? About bringing a television to the shoot for reference? You should also bring a good set of headphones (familiarly known as cans) so you can monitor the audio for noise during recording and playback.


If a location is extremely inhospitable to sound recording, consider shooting the scene MOS. That's short for "mit out sound." It's an old film-school expression said to have originated with some old director who had a thick accent and couldn't pronounce the word with.

If you have to shoot MOS, think about whether you can cover the noise with music, narration, voiceover, or titles instead of live audio. MOS is often the only way to shoot a scene when using live audio would be impossible.

The Little iDVD Book
The Little iDVD Book
ISBN: 0321197747
Year: 2003
Pages: 62

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