Filming of a movie, a short clip or a commercial. They are all very close to each other and yet so different. How does the cameraman prepare for a certain task? What does he need? Should it be a camera or a DSLR, a steadicam or DJI Ronin? There are so many question and even more correct answers. How does the cameraman choose what piece of equipment to use and how exactly to use it, while filming a certain clip or scene? I am going to share with you, my personal opinion, built on theoretical knowledge and a lot of on-set practice.
My work at “One More Frame Studio” is very diverse. It covers short films, commercials, music videos and much more. Before we start the actual filming we need to come up with an idea and a script. Those are the two founding pillars that every project is built on. The director and the cameraman get together with the writer and they start thinking about the idea. The stage setting, the visualisation and everything else that makes a product watchable should be taken into consideration. After all the aspects and details are specified, the preparations for the shooting can begin.
At this point, the cameraman has to decide how exactly he is going to achieve the vision and the looks for the film, that he and the director want. Of utmost importance, here is he dramaturgy. I will point the operator at what gear and technique he should use. As I said before, everything could be a right choice. The market is flooded with a nearly endless variety of cameras, lighting and everything else you might need. That’s why the cameraman needs a script. If it on li consists of interior scenes you will choose a certain type of lighting, but if it includes outdoors shooting as well, you will need a different kind of lights. All this is laid down in the script, along with other useful information. Another factor that greatly influences the choice of filming technique is the budget. Sadly, in our line of work, this is one of the things that almost always will force limitations upon your projects. It’s typical for every director to desire the most advanced and suitable for his purposes filming equipment, but one should only consider the current project’s budget while choosing gear and filming techniques. Fortunately for us, we live in a time of fast developing technologies. The struggle between the brands on the market is immense, so new cheaper solutions are introduced to us almost every day. And when I say cheaper, that doesn’t mean we talk about bad – quality equipment. For example, a DSLR is cost way less than a cinema camera, but it can still give you great results if you know how to use it.
I want to talk a bit about another thing that we should consider when we choose the way we film a certain product. Something that might not sound very important at first glance, but believe me, it is. I’m talking about the platform on which the film will be presented. Let me just give you some examples and I believe you will understand what I mean right away. As we all know, filming in 4K quality is everywhere nowadays and yet its costs a lot. Let us say we are making a clip for some kind of presentation. In that case, we clearly don’t need 4K and we can film the thing in Full HD for example. This will greatly reduce the expenses for both the producers and the clients. Another example is filming on a tape. Not so popular now of course, but some studios are still using it. If your video is meant to be played on YouTube or Vimeo only, you definitely don’t need to shoot on tape. There are other much cheaper and suitable options in this case. Considering this will make it much easier on us both on set and in post-production later on.
In conclusion, I have to say that each cameraman’s preparation for filming is quite individual. Different people prefer different brands or gear specifications and everyone makes their own choices. If the things we talked about in this article are considered, the cameraman will have a good idea about exactly what he needs to film the best video he can.