The Basic Filmmaker's Checklist

Posted October 12, 2017
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Whether you are on your first shoot or your 1,000th, preparation is they key to a successful day. When you arrive at a location it is natural to want to start recording right away. You may be afraid that you are going to miss something or you may be worried about sticking to a schedule. This instinct to start recording immediately can lead to poor footage and make your edit session into a rescue mission rather than story building.

While there are many factors to consider when you are preparing to shoot your video, here's a quick rundown from YouTuber D4Darious of nine important things to check on your camera to make sure you are prepared to start recording:

First thing you should do is level your camera. If you are using a tripod with a level attached this should be easy, but if your tripod has no level, or you are shooting free-hand, you can use horizontal and vertical lines in your shot to eyeball a level shot. When your shot is angled it can be distracting to the viewer and pull them out of the viewing experience and make your video look amateurish. If you're going for an angled shot just make sure that it has some editorial or story value.

Next, make sure you have formatted your memory card so you have a fresh slate to work with, and if you still have some data on your card make sure you have it saved onto a computer or hard drive so you don't lost it forever by pressing format too quickly.

Make sure that your frame rate and resolution are set correctly for the kind of shot that you are trying to get. If you are doing a standard shot, a timelapse, or a slow motion shot you will need to adjust the frame rate.

Check your picture style presets to make sure that you are getting the best color possible with the camera that you are using.

Next thing to consider is white balance. If you are working indoors with consistent lighting then you should only have to white balance before each set up, while if you are shooting outdoors with changing lighting you may want to white balance before every shot. It's a good idea to white balance a lot while you are shooting to make sure that you don't end up with any color surprises in the edit.

Next check your shutter speed, ISO and Focus. Your shutter speed should be the inverse of double your frame rate -- so if you are shooting 24 fps then your shutter speed should be 1/48. Keep an eye on your ISO while you are shooting constantly to make sure your shots are not over-exposed and end up with blown out shots or lots of noise. Focus is VERY important and you should check, double check and triple check before each shot right before you are about to shoot.

Lastly, check your framing and make sure that you have the shot that you want. People are very sophisticated video consumers now and your shots need to be perfect to capture their attention and keep it. Don't just rush to get the action, set up a deliberate shot and take a breath before your hit record.

That does it for camera checklist but there are plenty of other factors to consider before you start recording, or even before you leave for your shoot. Check out our pre-shooting checklist here.


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