This week, one of the skills we have practiced is brushing up on our camera skills by using the professional film cameras to take shots we have previously learned. However, we have also learned three new types of camera shots that were completely new to me, which were all focus shots. This meant that within a shot we took, an item or object was out of focused and blurred with a clear, crisp background. But when adjusted, it would become the opposite with the background out of focus and the object would become clear. I recognized this shot type once it was described to me and it made me keen to start practicing them because I knew that it would add some interest and even creativity to my video piece as part of my second final project, as well as not being just like any other normal tracking shot or close up. This shots can also be applied to these shots which is what adds life to them.
In order to carry out this skill, all we needed to know was how to use the camera features to make the focus shots happen. For example, we had the focus adjuster on the outside of the camera lens so that we could adjust the levels of focus to what we thought was appropriate (depending on the shot). We also used this feature when we were switching the focus on the object and background in a shot. I realized whilst carrying out this skill that this was incredibly convenient because all I needed to do was film the shot as if it was a normal wide shot, mid-close up or close up and simply use the focus tool on the camera to create the effect I wanted, which saved time on the whole process and battery power on the camera.
However, before we got started, we immediately encountered a problem: we didn’t have any available tripods for us to use, which was an issue because we didn’t have any way of ensuring the camera didn’t wobble whilst filming. This was where our problem solving skills came in because we had to figure out ways of replacing the tripods to make our shots still look professional. We did managed to solve these problems as they came up with each shot in situations such as when we were taking the close up shot- I decided to sit down with Rebecca’s leg across my lap so that I could balance the camera on it and keep it still. In other situations, we have used various items around our shooting location such as stair banisters, chairs and table surfaces. Although this caused some minor wobbles due to holding the camera in some places, it was very effective overall because we managed to achieve an adequate level of professionalism within each shot and using various still items around the college helped us solve these problems at very short notice. Plus, working in a team helped us solve these problems together because when we had to hold the camera in some cases, we had one person holding it with the other person operating the focus lens. This resolved the levels of wobbling that occurred in the shot and as a result, increased the quality of the shot.
In relation to the industry, this kind of skill, along with other types of video skills are definitely used within this area. For example, many news reports on the TV and online are using this focus feature to make the average shot more interesting and exciting in a way. This is when they would use this skill or a similar skill method to achieve the results I achieved today. They would also do exactly what I did today: film the shot as if it was a normal, wide, mid-close up or close up and adjust the focus on the desired background and/or object
Below shows an example of the shots I have put together this morning. These consist of: one wide mid- shot, one mid-close up, one close-up shot and a variety of shots that put our focus skills to the test:
In comparison of my work compared to the same type carried our professionally in industry, I feel that my shots that used the focus change feature on them were very similar to professional examples in a number of ways. For example, the focus change gave much more of an effect to the shot by making it look more creative and even, to an extent, observant to the details of the surroundings- especially with the final focus shot with action already happening in it. This also happens during TV and online video news too , especially when a shot is filmed in public or out in the open.
However, I feel that there were a couple of minor flaws in some of them; I feel that the close-up with the focus change was a bit too much of a close-up and made the book look a bit more blurred than it should have. Also, I feel that we could have tried a little harder to reduce the levels of shaking that happened during the shots. However, this issue was beyond our control because we didn’t have any access to the tripods so it was down to us to solve the problem of how to improvise in place of the tripod. But on the plus side, I feel that considering we didn’t have a piece of required equipment and we found many ways to fix the problem, we didn’t do a bad job at all with the production of the shots but also with the overall outcome of them all.
Another skill we’ve practiced also involved the film cameras, since we were practicing filming vox pop interviews. This was very important for us all to know because we would probably need to incorporate this skill and the output of it (the filmed interview itself) into our second final project at some stage for our video piece.
This skill was a little more complex than just using the camera or using different shots in general; not only did we have to make sure that the camera angles were all correct but also that the interviewees were looking in the correct direction and were in the right position. This meant never looking into the camera, looking off camera at all times, and ensuring that the overall shot looked as professional as possible. We did this by keeping a suitable distance between the person holding the camera and the interviewee so that the shot looked like a vox pop interview and even politely asking the interviewee to stand a certain way so that we got the shot we needed. To get the correct gaze from the interviewee, we had another group member stand next to the camera at the side for them to look at us.
Even though we had an idea of how to produce the final shot, we encountered a number of problems before and after we took them. For example, we had no access to the tripods for the second day in a row. But I used my experience of yesterday and also common sense to either use various items like chairs and banisters as a support for the camera or have someone in our group with a very steady hand to hold it as still as possible. The option of holding the camera very still was the one we went ahead with because of two reasons: it was the only way to get a suitable height for filming the interviewee and it was the most convenient for us when we filmed outside.
But the main problem occurred after we had taken the shots: it turned out that the microphone we used didn’t work pick up any of the audio and as a result, we received no sound whatsoever in any of our shots. This was very frustrating for all our group because it meant that we had to go and re-shoot all of our shots again. But this time, we decided to film within the members of our class and stay in the media block because we knew what questions/topics we were all asking each other and we knew the light intensity in the area and could adjust the overall shot(s) to it.
In relation to the skill being used in industry, I’d say that without this skill, no TV report would be the same because it wouldn’t bring any unique points, opinions or even factual information from people who know about the topic. They would use exactly the same techniques that I have used today whilst shooting their vox pop interviews. They would use the rule-of-thirds with the interviewee and ensure that their head do not touch the top of the shot and that it shows no lower than their upper chest. This is all to make the shot look professional but also so that the audience can understand what the interviewee is talking about.
The example of my final vox pop interview shots are shown below. We conducted a question related to the recent death of David Bowie, which was “how do you think the death of David Bowie has affected society and the music industry?”
Overall, I’d say that compared to all the problems we face along the way and having to re-film our shots, I’d say that the outcomes of our new ones have somewhat turned out to be a success. This is due to the fact that in all of them, no one’s head goes over the top of the shot and most of them do not show below below their chest/stomach area. I’d say two of them (Ben and myself) are exactly like how you’d find them in a TV news interview because of these reasons but they both show no more than the upper chest and both of the interviewees have off-camera gazes throughout. But for all of them, I feel most proud about the low wobble levels that occurred because all we did was hold it still with our hands and no tripod. This was all due to our problem solving skills too.
However, if there were some things I could improve on in the shots, it would be to obviously check that all our equipment was working before we set out so that we didn’t have to re-record it all again. But with my new vox pop shots, I’d ensure that the positioning for all interviewees were the same because a couple of them were a little further away from the camera than they should have been. Also, I’d ask the interviewee (professionally) to gaze to the side of the camera all the way through because one of them (Natasha) was blinking from side to side a bit and even though Libby’s positioning was correct, she gazed AT the camera almost all the way through.