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Busy day filming

June 23, 2008

I’ve spent today looking over the footage me and Thoroughly Good cameraman Andi shot yesterday for one of a series of BBC Proms related videos I’m working on in my spare time.

There’s an hours worth of footage to chew over – a good half-hour of it quite possibly unusable due to the inevitable challenges presented by there being too little cloud cover and way too much wind.

While the rest of London’s population no doubt basked in the weather yesterday, me and Andi found ourselves having to compromise at nearly every step of the way. That entire process took in the region of five and half hours. I am reliably informed that this is quite normal when getting footage committed to tape.

Filming a script is quite an arduous task. We began at Broadcasting House with a skeleton script. Various opportunities to absorb how television is produced reminds me that finalised scripts are vital in making the filming process goes as smoothly as possible. I should know better than to commit what little pearls of wisdom I do sometimes have to camera relying on my dubious memory.

Still, I fear the idea of reading a script out line for line and thus losing the spontaneity of it. If it’s not fun to say then I always reckon its probably not very fun to watch. The resulting experience can sometimes be a disjointed one with bits of monologue recorded here and other bits recorded there. It’s not unheard of to get part-way through the process and worry about whether we’ve actually achieved anything.

Having said that there were a few firm ideas of exactly how everything would be shot. First there was the angle for the narrator, then another take for one half of a dialogue, the responses in that dialogue and, finally, the asides. Recording that dialogue is quite surreal. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve recorded the same line over and over again. Such repitition does sometimes take some of the joy out of the process.

We were filming using a Sony Z1 with a external mic and, from time to time, a clip mic too recording everything to mini DV tapes.

It’s an easy piece of kit to use which makes the seemingly spontaneous style of delivery slightly easier to achieve.

The key process in transforming what at the moment appears as a never-ending series of failed takes is most definitely in the edit. It’s then the feeling of intense anxiety I always experience before, during and directly after a shoot finally begins to subside.

Of course, when the edit has been finalised then there’s the sign-off to get through – this brings all sorts of related tension to the fore – but I’ll get to that stage as and when. Baby steps first.

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