Filming is the moment that everything comes together. It can be quite overwhelming. But every production has some basic rules. No matter if the scenario is small and you film yourself or if the scenario is large and you need a full-blown film crew. We will gladly let you learn from our mistakes so that you don’t have to make them.
1. Set up your camera
Let's start with the camera. You are on set, all batteries are charged and you have enough disk space for the recordings. You tested all the equipment and software, so you are sure everything will work. When you place the camera on the tripod, make sure the camera is at the correct height. You don't want the trainee to put on the headset and feel too tall or too short. We set the camera at an average height of a human being. When you’re working with actors, use one of the key actors as a reference. Tip: when you have determined the height, take the top of the camera as a measuring point, not the lenses itself. We have seen it works better.
When the first scene has been recorded, do not change the height of the camera anymore. If you have to change locations, put the tripod straight into the car exactly as it is. You really do not want the height perspective of the trainee to change during the scenario. If the tripod does not fit in your car, mark the height with tape before folding it.
2. Camera settings
Now, check the camera settings. The correct settings of your camera depends on your camera model and what you want to film. Because we do not move the camera that much, we generally prefer a higher resolution over a higher frame rate. A higher frame rate also reduces light into the camera. That can again influence the quality of your videos. Keep in mind to never set the frame rate lower than 25fps, because that will cause very vague movements in your video.
The last thing you need to know about the camera is to keep the lenses clean. Make sure that after every time someone touches the camera the lenses are cleaned. There are special microfiber cleaning cloths so you do not damage your lenses.
3. Working with actors
All 360 video cameras consist of multiple lenses. If you work with actors, pick one lens and point it to the actor. This will make your stitching during post-production a lot easier. Sometimes actors need to walk. In that case, you cannot avoid the actor walking through stitch lines.
Make sure there is a minimum distance between the camera and what you are filming to be able to properly stitch the videos. This does depend on your camera and the way stitching is done. With the Insta360 Pro 2, the camera we use, this distance is about half a meter. Also, make sure the actor isn’t positioned too far from the camera. The further away, the harder it is to see the face and emotion of that actor.
4. Start with a dry run
When you start filming we advise you to go through all the scenes with the full crew and cast. This way you prevent that after recording 5 scenes you discover that a certain door should have been closed. For continuity, you will have to film everything again or you need a very good editor to fix that door in post-production.
Before we actually hit the record button, we do a dry run. We play the scene exactly as we want to record it. It helps the crew and the cast to know exactly what is going to happen. It is also that moment to give additional instructions as a director. You can check if the camera is set, the sound comes incorrectly and so on.
5. Sound, camera and... action!
After pushing the record button, we always start a scene with some basic instructions. We ask the actors to wait 5 seconds after the call for action. This way you have enough material to cut the video. When everyone is ready, we ask for silence on the set. We ask if the sound and the camera is running. Only then we will shoot the scene and take the scene number, give my hands a clap to synchronize the sound and walk out of the video. And then 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Action!
6. Mind the loop
After everything has been played according to the script, I let the scene roll for another 30 seconds. This is very important to be able to loop the video at the end of a scene. You need that loop for a trainee, to be able to think about and select an interactive element. Do practice this with the actors, because those 30 seconds will feel very long. And during those 30 seconds, you want the actor to keep on playing. They should remain in the same emotion. Even when you have scenes without any actors, I also recommend recording this additional 30 seconds.
7. The Warp Studio script
As mentioned earlier, we use the script coming from Warp Studio during the recording. It immediately functions as a shot list. By checking each scene you are sure that you will not forget to record scenes. Also use this script to write down notes, such as the number of takes and the best one. Even changes in the scenario can be noted on this script. The more notes, the easier your post-production.
So start with preparing the film crew, actors and equipment. Go over the script with everybody, make sure everyone is aligned. Do a dry run. Once you do record make sure to have additional time before and after the scene. And take notes, which can be very helpful during post-production. Good luck!
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