Filming Exterior- 10/8/20

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.

Gear Ready – 2/29/20

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This is me drinking a beer

I built the computer. It took blood, sweat, tears, and an absolute certainty that I destroyed $1000 in computer parts but I did it. Along with that, I received my Tascam DR 100 mk II in the mail. It sounds phenomenal paired with my audio-technica microphone.

So I built the computer on Tuesday, using a step-by-step guide on youtube (the best how-to service in the history of man, btw). After it was completed, I plugged it into an old monitor, took a deep breath, and powered that son-of-bitch up. Got the good old “no signal” message and was bummed, but not devastated. I chalked it up to old parts not gemming with the new parts.

A quick trip to walmart the next day and I was all set to pay $50 on a new computer monitor. Upon arrival I discovered the monitors I was searching for were available for shipping, but were not actually stocked in the store. No way in hell I was waiting.

So I purchased a $130 32 inch tv and an HDMI chord. I didn’t anticipate keeping it. I got home, hooked it up, and got the same message – no signal. I was actually convinced that I had broken the graphics card during my build, or possibly shorted something with static electricity during set-up(don’t use latex gloves when you’re building a computer). Sure enough, my Ram wasn’t pushed all the way in. It’s a terrifying feeling using elbow grease on something so expensive and delicate.

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About 1/4 of the mess I created

Long story short, my new video-editing machine is working as good as expected. It took another entire day to figure out how to import footage from my sony a6300 (its a codec XVAC-S that you can import with a MP4 wrapper simply by switching USB connection to MTP on the 4th page of the 6th suitcase tab in the menu options). I still haven’t been able to import any aduio, but I think one final purchase of an SD card reader should do the trick.

I’m hoping to write a 5 page script this week that I’ll be able to film this weekend. In the meantime, I’ll attach some of the images from my camera. Keep in mind I know less than nothing about photography. Any pictures that do look good are in thanks to the camera. Hopefully you can see how great a film quality they have to them, and why I’m so excited to begin bringing my stories to life through its lens.

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A perfect set if only I could use it

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Beautiful shot, mostly because of the firefighter

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I love the movable focus option. Draws your eye straight to the subject.

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If I wasn’t lazy I would have made this the first picture since it shows the scope of the response.

Filmmaking

Haven’t been on here hardly at all over the last few years. I’ve been writing regularly and seriously since October. I’ve completed 3 scripts that I’m happy with but haven’t gotten any luck with production. The smart decision would be to enter the scripts into contests, and because that’s the logical choice I’ve decided instead to invest $2000 in film gear and a computer capable of editing 4k footage. I’m very excited because this will not only allow me to learn how to direct, but I’ll have the ability to reach an audience much easier. After writing on and off for about 9 years, I’m really just excited to see my stories unfold on screen. Part of the reason I’ve decided to pursue screenwriting rather than book writing is the efficiency of scripts. You can write a 90 page script in a few days, but a first draft of a novel always took me 3 months. Anyways, I’m going to try and post here daily for updates. I have a tendency to disappear from social media but this is the on account that’s always been significant for me. Have a great Friday.