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Production Tips and Tricks
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Production Tips and Tricks

Welcome to a new feature on our website! This is for anyone that's interested in the production of independent films.

We'll be adding new tips and tricks each month. Keep checking back to learn more tips and tricks.

Tip #1
To avoid broken timecode on your video tape, put a new tape into your camera, and hit record with the lens cap on and let it record black for the entire tape. You'll end up striping the tape with timecode and can then start and stop the shooting process without breaking timecode as you progress.

Tip #2
When scouting, be sure to check and see what the environment is like not only in terms of visual set up but also aurally...Sound has a HUGE impact, especially when you're dealing with background noises in post.

When you're shooting and looking for locations, you don't always have a choice and you sometimes have to settle for what you can get, but when you do have a choice and can be a little more picky, pay attention to what's around the area that might have an impact on sound. Is the place near train tracks or an aiport or even a high traffic area with lots of street noise? Is it next to a factory or a place that's under construction?

Same thing if you're outside, especially if it's windy. I've heard people say "I'll fix it in post." If you can shoot things clean the first time, you won't have to try to fix it in post, which can be difficult...

Tip #3
When shooting inside on a limited budget with enviromental light only:

Be aware of where your subjects are with regards to windows. Windows can work for you or against you...If your actor has a picture window behind them, they can end up being silhouetted (which may or may not be the effect that you want). If you don't want them silhouetted, turn the actor, shoot with their side to the window instead of their back to it and you can use the window as a key light or fill light depending on the sunlight coming in.

Tip #4
If you're new to doing camera work - be sure to disable any auto-focus features that may be active.

Auto focus is for your Uncle while he's shooting your nephews birthday party. The problem with auto focus is that it can really screw up a shot if the camera is adjusting and re-adjusting focus while you're shooting. Movement or low light will often cause a camera to adjust the focus while the feature is turned on.

Tip #5
If you're new to using a high-end camera - check into the white balance features and options. White balance is important to ensure your camera picks up colors consistently with the environment. You normally white balance a camera by zooming in on something in the environment that's white and simply holding down the white balance button.

Be sure to re-White balance the camera if you move into a room that has different lighting or if you go from inside to outside or vice versa. You'll notice considerable changes to how the camera is interpreting color.

Tip #6
When working with a program like Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc. Be sure to copy a backup of your project files to a seperate drive or to CD-rom. The point to that is if your computer crashes or you have to wipe the drive clean, you'll have backups of the project files and won't have to start editing from scratch.

But be sure you place the backups on a different drive!

Tip #7
When shooting in an evironment that has flourecsent lights - keep an eye on your viewfinder, flourecsent lights can cause a strange color cycling effect and mess up your shot. I've had this happen to me and it's a nightmare to try to color correct! If you have a black and white viewfinder you may not see this happening! Try to run your camera through a color monitor before you shoot, this is NOT something you want to deal with in post!

To compensate for the problem while shooting - change the shutter speed on your camera. Certain shutter speeds don't pick up on the interference the flourecsent lights create.

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Sean and Brett

Sean McKnight and Brett Triantafillou on set
Photo by Drew Kohler