42 Seconds

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camera setup

Two camera set-up with script board

I thought I might give you an idea just how this filming thing all works.

Today I needed to film 3 sequences here at Te Awanga. They’re all within easy walking distance of the van, so today I didn’t have to think too much about having everything with me for the whole day… I could come back to the van between scenes to unload the camera’s, re-charge the batteries and pick up anything I’d forgotten.

Yesterday, I’d described the Kurahaupo people leaving Mahia, and talked about the sorts of boats they would have built to get to here. I’d talked about other tribes in the area, and how they would have resolve territorial boundaries.

I’d got all the shot’s I needed at that end of the beach; views up and down the river, across the river, where the river met the ocean… and I had the shots of me walking into and out of the position I delivered the dialogue from.

The closing shot from yesterday was of me walking up the beach towards where the Kurahaupo people first settled… Te Awanga… the location for today’s scenes.

Finishing off the day’s work meant copying everything from the camera’s and reviewing each piece of footage; was it useable dialogue, useable cut-away shots, or for the bin (set-up shots and mis-takes).

Then I started preparing for today’s shooting.
– Make sure all my camera and audio batteries are all on charge
– Final fine tuning of the script content, and the continuity of dialogue between scenes

My first scene is a continuation from last one I shot yesterday.

In the last scene I shot yesterday, the closing line was…
“This river, the Tukituki, marked their boundary, and the people of the Kurahaupo occupied the land to the west of here, making their first settlement just a little further up this beach.”

Then I walked away up the beach.

For my first scene today I needed the continuation shot of me walking up the beach to where I would deliver my next dialogue. Then I would shoot the next piece of dialogue.

Today’s shooting covered these three themes
– Getting established and clearing land to grow crops. The importance of Fern root until they had their own crops.
– Whatonga’s first son ‘Tara’
– Whatonga’s exploration of the North Island and his second son ‘Tautoki’

I already had the cut-away views shots I needed… Shots of the valley, the plains, the sea, the lagoon and Cape Kidnappers.

Shooting with dialogue is done using two camera’s… one a half body shot, and the other a close-up. This takes quite a while to set up. I position each camera so that I think they are correct. I adjust the zoom, and fix the aperture setting for the light conditions in the shot. I mark the exact position to stand.

The only way to find out if this is all right is to test; film a short burst, and then look at it… then, adjust, film and check again… for each camera untill it’s all good.

Then I shut the camera’s down to preserve battery life while I set up the audio, and mount the script board on the tripod. I run through my lines a few times, and then I’m ready.

To shoot I start both camera’s, check that they are both rolling, check that the sound level meter flickers when I speak, and ‘click’ the clapper board to allow the two camera’s footage to be synchronised.

Then… ‘positions’ and ‘action’.

After a couple of runs through I check what I’ve taken… in both cameras, and then I repeat, and repeat, and repeat, the scene until I have it all the way through correctly.

When I’m satisfied that the scene can be assembled successfully from the pieces I have shot, I pack up, and move the camera’s on to the next set-up.

It’s quite a performance.

Here is one of the scenes from today. It is just the shot from the ‘A’ camera… no cut-aways included, or the wide angle… just the dialogue in close-up.

It is only 42 seconds long… This one was the 18th attempt out of 23 that I took.

I had to stop shooting each time a cloud came over, while someone mowed their lawn, when a lady and her son paddled their canoes around the lagoon behind me, when someone came up and started talking to me while I was shooting… plus of course when I fluffed the delivery.

Today it took me about 2 hours to capture this 42 seconds. The total preparation; research, scripting and illustrations, would run to several days.

Tonight, I have my batteries on charge, and I have my scripts and illustrations all printed out ready for tomorrow.

In the morning I will breakfast, shower and pack the van. I will also need to prepare lunch and a coffee flask before I leave the campsite.

I have a 30 minute drive to Otatara Pa, where I’m shooting, and then a 30 minute walk to get to the shoot locations. For the correct sun position I need to film late morning to evening, but the weather forecast gives cloud coming in in the afternoon… we’ll see, I have about 5 hours worth to do there. It will be what it will be.

So that’s me… a day in the life of.

When I’m not doing this I’m researching my next step, and putting stuff together for Facebook and the Blog posts.

Whatever happens, it will be an early start tomorrow, and for that I need an early night.

It’s been a long day. Goodnight all.

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