First, always turn on the lights. We filmed mostly indoors, and my only lighting source was a window to the left of Miss Rutschmann. To my eyes, it looked sufficient, however God created our eyes with amazing colour and light balancing skills that are far superior to the abilities of any camera. Essentially your eyes do everything the camera does on the “AUTO” setting: white balances, sets the correct ISO, and aperture of your iris. However cameras' AUTO settings never do it quite as well as our eyes do, and I was using the MANUAL setting. That being said I really should have planned the lighting better.
Second, plan as much as you can. I ended up moving my tripod part way through, and I also feel my microphone was too far away. Additionally I should have decided right away whether or not I wanted to focus exclusively on the interviewee or to have a camera for both the interviewee and the interviewer.
Third, don't always use the highest setting on your camera. I filmed using a brand new Sony A7S that belongs to The Standard. It is a very impressive 4K camera. And 4K isn't a reference to the price tag, that's what I thought at first though. 4K is essentially the “high definition of high definition”. The 4K option is great for television commercials and film, but for the YouTube video I was working on everything was going to be shrunk down to “Full HD” AKA “1080p” (1920 by 1080 pixels), so the 4K was more than necessary. The large AVCHD files I filmed in ended up needing to be converted down to 1080p HD MP4 files anyway, so the AVCHD recording setting ended up mostly just taking more time in the long run.
Fourth, genuinely take interest in what your subject has to say. Although I was not the interviewer (that job went to our friendly intern Dan Cearns) I was thoroughly enjoying the interview. Miss Rutschmann was passionate about her art work, and explained her story enthusiastically. It was easy to really get into her story, since I know many aspiring artists who can relate to her story and drive for art. Because the camera man (me) looked genuinely interested in the topic of discussion (because I was) it made her look in my direction, which was also essentially directly into the camera. This made for a much more engaging video. Though I'd like to note that you should be sensitive that you don't end up looking like you are staring at the subject, making them feel awkward.
Fifth, simplicity is sometimes best. I had some frustrations with various “professional” video editors. I use the quotations around “professional” here because a computer software cannot be a “professional”, only a person can. But that's a side note. Perhaps I will write more on this in a separate post. Sufficient to say that I was having trouble with some of the more recognized software, and ended up using “good old” Windows Movie Maker with far superior results (as far as work flow efficiency is concerned).
Sixth, and last of all, the Sony A7S breaks clips at the 10:40 mark when filming in the AVCHD format. If you don't use the Sony A7S or the AVCHD format, this may not be of any relevance to you. I also should point out that I was recording directly onto a removable SD card, this wouldn't happen if someone was recording with a live through-put to a computer. But I found out that when I recorded clips longer than 10 minutes and 40 seconds long, it would automatically end the clip and start a new one. It seems as though it retained all the footage though, and inserted a brief still image at the beginning of the second clip. Confusing? Yeah I thought so. But I will bear it in mind for next time. My plan is to simply either not film in AVCHD, or when I am, to ensure my individual clips stay under the 10:40 time stamp.
*UPDATE* I filmed using the MP4 format and it had a cut off time at around 20 minutes. It seemed to have an odd quirk though where my audio went out of sync at random points. Overall I ended up deciding I liked the AVCHD format best, and converted these clips down to MP4s. If you ever need to convert video files, I recommend NCH's Prism video converter, it's free but you'll need to buy a license if you want to use it for commercial use. If you need something free for commercial use, I suggest FreeMake video converter. It does occasionally add a logo water mark at the very end, on a black slide it makes. This is easily edited out though. Also be really careful when installing FreeMake, it tries to add a lot of junk to your computer, so make sure you read things as you go through the installation steps and deselct any offers of any other software except FreeMake Video Converter. If anyone has any other converter suggestions feel free to mention them in the comments!
Well these are just a few things I learned this time around. What about you? Have you ever learned some valuable lessons the hard way when filming, doing other media, or just in life in general? “Let me know in the comments below.” Nice rhyme eh?