As I mentioned yesterday, Monday’s shoot went really well. It was the first time I had a successful shoot outdoors and was in stark contrast to an effort I had made earlier this year. Here are some things I’ve learned are necessary to film an exterior scene:
ND filters – By far the most important single item needed to record in direct sunlight. Every lens has an aperture that changes in order to allow different amounts of light into the image. By adding an ND filter (I used an ND64 for the entire day), you can still manage to use lower f-stops and not overexpose the image.
Tascam DR10L – this little recorder comes with a lavalier mic that you can attach it to your shirt or tape down to your skin. Recording audio is a tremendous risk outdoors – if the wind is howling, the audio you record on your primary microphone will likely be shit. But the greater challenge is your wide shot. Inside of a home there are walls, tables, chairs, all sorts of different objects you may use to hide the presence of your microphone.
Multiple batteries – Originally purchased because I refuse to end a filmmaking production early due to batteries being dead, I actually found a different purpose for these. I have 2 batteries that are meant specifically for the camera, and 2 cheap Chinese knockoff batteries. But the reason they came in handy is that the a6300 is notorious for overheating then shutting down. The battery compartment is a main source for overheating. By being able to change batteries frequently, I reduced the time it took for my overheating camera to be usable again.
Keeping the pull-out display open – I’m not sure why, but the a6300 has a pull-out screen on the back. For some reason keeping this open helps avoid overheating issues.
Small ass, $10-$20 tripods – Not sure I’ll use the shots I got from these, but purchasing really small, basic tripods enables me to get footage from the perspective of a character lying on the ground. The scenes I’ve written for exteriors always wind up beginning with one character sitting or lying on the ground. That results in a big height disparity that can be difficult to film in a single frame. Footsteps are cinematic also.
A cooler with waters and ice – I almost didn’t bring it, but I’m glad I did. In order to appear as professional as possible I purchased a cooler, 3 fold-out chairs, and an easy up. I haven’t used the easy up, but believe it can also provide additional shade for the camera. I’m happy I brought the waters though because we were sweating our assess off and I may have been airlifted to the nearest hospital if I had not.
A strip of cardboard – As the sun continued to rise, so did the temperature in my camera. I found this trick on the internet, and it worked out alright. I taped a piece of cardboard over the body and lens of my camera in order to provide an additional layer of shade and protection from the sun.
Sun-tan lotion – it has yet to be used, but the first day I filmed with Michael, the actor playing Leo in episode 4, he requested it. My initial thought was that receiving a little sun burn is a minor discomfort not worth worrying about. When he stated he had a few auditions later that week and did not want to look like an Oompa Loompa, I had a new perspective. For actors, appearance can affect whether they receive a job.
Anyway, that’s all I got for today. Looking forward to sharing more tips, tricks, twists, traps, and turns soon.