Moors misty morning

Alliteration has been a weakness of mine for many years!

As part of my ongoing videography development I decided to try to create a short video that used no drone footage, no time-lapses and no stills apart from a short slideshow at the end. In other words from start to finish just video footage shot specifically for the project. To simplify it slightly I was going to revisit a regular location and spurred by my Sunday sunrise success (more alliteration but see earlier post) I planned to shoot a sunrise for this exercise.

The weather forecast was such that a misty start was a possibility but the forecast was also for reasonably clear skies with just a little cloud cover. Visions of low lying mist with a blue sky above, dotted with fluffy clouds, filled my mind. Knowing the lay of the land and where the sun would rise I was also thinking that if the sun peeked through said clouds I would get some lovely side lighting across the rocky edge at Buckstones.

(C) Dave Whenham
Not the conditions I had previsualised

Would you be surprised to find that it didn’t go to plan? In fact I think the trendy term is (or was?) #fail

My alarm went off at 5.30am and resisting the urge to snooze the alarm I was out of the door, flask of coffee in hand, by 6.00am. After a stop for diesel I was in place ready to shoot before 6.30am. Camera (Fuji X-T20) on tripod – check. Camera in video mode – check. Fluid video head in use – check. Audio recording active on camera – check. Lapel mic in place ready to capture my pearls of wisdom – check.

In short, a text book departure and set up. Sunrise was due at 6.59am and I was ready and waiting by 6.45am.  The Nikon D800E was at my feet and I have never been better prepared for a shoot – ever.  Period.  There was just one problem. I had to guess at the composition because I could only see a few feet in front of me.

Hhhmmm.

I stuck it out until 8.30am at which point I had to get back home to keep an appointment. During the two hours on location I shot video, waffled into the tiny dead cat on my collar and even took a couple of stills. At no point did the mist lift. There were a couple of occasions when there seemed to be a slight gap in the mist as it drifted across in front of me but at no point during the time I was there did it clear even for a short period.

Whether the video will get made is as yet an unknown quantity. I haven’t looked at what I have on the memory cards and nor have I listened back to the audio to see if I have enough to make something worth listening to or looking at. Unfortunately it will need to wait until next week at the earliest as I’m away on a conference until Sunday. If it does get made it will be a major achievement!

But, in closing, it is important to note one key thing – I had a fabulous two hours, enjoyed the solitude, the peace and the joy of trying to create something despite the conditions. There may, or may not, be an end result but I had a great morning.

Buckstones Edge

Shot over three days and using a mixture of video from the Fuji X-T20 and Mavic Pro, stills and time-lapse sequences together with a slideshow finale prepared in Pictures to Exe this video records three days of very trying weather and light!

I have been a stills photographer for many years but as my reader will know I have only started to make the transition into videography in the last few months. For this video I have decided to move away from a scripted voiceover (my wife said I sounded too “posh) and try to record a more spontaneous narration whilst out taking pictures.  Audio recording is a big challenge for me however and this video mixes two sources of voice-over/narration. The first is the iPhone and the second a handheld audio recorder (Zoom H2n) with a Rode  microphone. To me there is no doubts as to the first choice audio capture moving forward.

The usual YouTube link below but at the foot of the post is the link for an alternative version on Vimeo which I actually prefer.



Music: “On hearing the first cuckoo of Spring” by Frederick Delius
Fuji X-T20 and Fuji X-T1
iPhone 7 & Zoom Hn2 audio recorder
Mavic Pro
GoPro Hero Session 4 and Hero 3+ (Silver)

 

Alternate version on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/228978590

 

 

Baby steps with audio

I mentioned in my last post that I have taken the plunge and started to work on my first ever DSLR video. My plan was to shoot, edit and produce the second segment of the planned video over the course of the last two days as a way of better understanding how each part of the process impacts the next. I have just finished this segment and the strategy paid dividends as I have learnt a lot and captured the learning on paper – real paper not the virtual kind!

This post captures the learnings with regard to audio, in particular to recording the narration. As part of my preparation I have been researching the various aspects of DSLR video making and it is every bit as involved as I’d imagined.  One factor that comes up time and time again though is audio; the quality of your audio can make or break a video.

Applying some of this research I used an external microphone to record directly to the cameras memory card whilst capturing the video footage rather than use the onboard microphone. Ideally I’d have an external device but I’m trying to work with what I have rather than investing in more kit.  A so-called dead cat on the microphone reduced wind noise and I was left with very usable ambient noise which I ran at reduced volume underneath all of the video elements of the final 55 second segment (above).

Following some further research this evening into synchronising sound I am in future going to record ambient sound with the microphone plugged into a stand alone recorder and not the camera. To be fair, the live-action audio requirements for this segment were very undemanding so part from the experience of attaching the microphone and adjusting levels there was little to be learned from this experience. Unlike recording the narration which did throw up some very useful pointers.

  • Building on the experience in the field I spent time getting the levels correctly adjusted before recording the voice over audio and it proved to be time well spent
  • I used a script and this proved invaluable in avoiding pregnant pauses and the inevitable “Uumms” and “Aaahhs” that I have realised pepper my day to day speech
  • With hindsight I should have recorded each of the narrative segments at the same time. Differences in background noise meant that the third clip, which I recorded separately from the first two, had a slightly different tone. The use of a script makes this easy to achieve too
  • Allow the recorder to run for a few seconds before starting to speak. This provides a useful clip of the background noise which can be used later when cleaning up the audio
  • After recording the first clip play it back using headphones to double-check the levels are correctly set
  • Take the clips into audio software (I used Audacity) for noise reduction and trimming to size ready for importing to the video project
  • When saving the clips use an appropriate name to make it easier to find when editing the video. Tracks labelled “zoom0003” are not particularly helpful. I used the first couple of words from each clip as a file name – e.g. “At first”, “Despite this”
  • Make a note of these file names against your script to make it much easier to select the correct one later.

Now, it has to be remembered that I only used 3 voice-over clips for this segment of the video so I’ve not tested my thoughts on a longer piece of work. However, I see no reason why this methodical approach shouldn’t also work with larger projects.

All in all I was very pleased with what I have learnt over the last 48 hours and I’m sure it is just the first small part of a much larger learning experience over the coming months.