Outdoor shooting - what to be careful of?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by RickSchmelz, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. RickSchmelz macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2008
    I'm hoping you fine folks will be willing to give me a bit of advice. I've searched through the forum archives, but didn't find a whole lot that's on point.

    I'm an OK amateur videographer, but by no means a pro. I've got a decent grasp of the basic mechanics of shooting video (use a tripod, don't zoom, don't rely on the camera's built-in microphone, etc), so I'm not so much looking for that kind of advice.

    I've worked several events, but they've all been indoors, and this summer I'll be shooting an outdoor wedding.

    So, the main question: What are the gotchas I should look out for when shooting outdoors?

    I've read up on it a bit, I've been to the site and done some basic legwork, but I'm not going to list "Here's what I already know" - I know for certain that there are holes in my knowledge, and I'd rather not bias any advice you'd be willing to give.

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    The biggest challenge is combating the wind. I know from experience that getting good audio on a windy day is really hard.

    Another thing. Watch your exposure religiously. Overhead clouds will darken your image quickly without you noticing it, and when they go away your image will blow out, just keep an eye on that.

    Overall you should be good, just pay extra attention to the audio and maybe bring protective equipment in case it's going to rain. Best of Luck!
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Outdoor shooting - what to be careful of?

    Don't get hit. 
  4. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    Don't be powerless...

    Usually shooting outdoor's means you're nowhere near a power source. Be sure to bring along another battery.
  5. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    Use the sun. Make sure it's not a backlight or you see more outlines then details.
  6. Lunja macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2005
    Lincoln UK
    Keep watch on the sky. As someone has already said, in patchy cloud conditions you will have to alter the exposure to compensate for the change in light, but you've also got to keep an eye on your white balance. For a wedding video, you need your whites to be really crisp, so WB is very important. When overcast you might be getting around 5600K, but if the clouds clear, the WB could be up to 10,000k. If you don't alter the WB, your whites will look very blue...
  7. dpgreg macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2008
    Outdoor shooting

    Shoot in and into the shade.
    Clouds are your friend. Direct sun, while sometimes unavoidable, makes harsh shadows on people's faces, avoid when possible.
    Use Manual Iris.
    If possible, this will help you expose properly for faces
    As much as possible, it will steady your shot and give you a more professional touch.
    Shoot cut-aways.
    The cake, a dog, people's hands toasting, a wide shot of the place, flowers, etc. This will make editing the piece much easier and increase the production value tremendously.
    If possible rent a lav mic and have the bride wear it. Any rental house should be able to show you how to connect it to your camera. If not possible, shoot on the wide end of the lens when people are speaking - this will naturally make you (and the camera mic) move closer to them and give you better audio. If it is windy, use a proper windscreen or affix some light fabric over the mic. Shoot downwind.
    Ask people to explain where we are and what is currently going on throughout the event. You'll love this when you get into the edit. "We're here to celebrate John and Jane's wedding", then "The wedding was amazing, now we are heading to the reception" and finally, "Well, there they go, starting on the rest of their lives. What a great day."
    Ask people how they feel about things. "We are thrilled, we are so happy, I think I'm going to cry..." etc. All will make the piece better.

    OK, good luck. Hope this helps!
  8. RickSchmelz thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2008

    Just wanted to take a second and thank everyone for the great advice and wishes of good luck.
  9. ppc_michael Guest


    Apr 26, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I usually keep a polarizer around to deal with reflections, glare, and help keep the sky a little more within proper exposure. I shoot on professional equipment so I have a matte box for that, but if you can figure out the thread size of your camera's lens you can buy a circular polarizer from any photographic store and it'll just screw on the end of your lens.

    It's not a "must" but I like to have it in case I need it.

    Also if you can get some sort of lens hood, this will help with lens flare from the sun and better contrast in sunny situations by blocking out some of the stray light that can wash out your image.

    Aaaand as someone already mentioned, windscreens for your mics! If you're going to be using a shotgun (microphone, heh) you might even consider a "furry" wind sock.

    (1000th edit) Also if you're shooting "closeups" of people talking to the camera or something in sunlight, you can use a white piece of paper (or something) to reflect light from the sun back into their face to fill in harsh shadows and give them more even lighting. You have to be rather close to do this but it's a good touch.
  10. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    I've seen it happen. :eek:
    The guy hit his head on a tree whilst filming and dropped the camera.
  11. Randor macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2008
    Vancouver, Canada
    If I can throw my hat into the ring:

    1. If you have all different light levels in your shot, (i.e. Bride wearing white, Groom wearing black, bright sky in the background) this is a real nightmare for figuring out expose. The one rule to use is to expose for the face. Make sure the peoples' faces are exposed properly, irrespective of how everything else looks. If the bride's gown is super-wide and causing her face to be under-exposed, you still have to open up the iris to get her face exposed properly, even if the gown gets blown-out.

    A quick and dirty technique is to zoom extremely close into her face to fill the entire screen, then hit your auto-iris to get the right exposure. Then turn OFF the auto-iris and zoom back out. This will get her face exposed right.

    If your camera has zebra stripes in the viewfinder, learn to use them. They are your friend!

    2. Use a manual white balance whenever possible. Sunlight and shade have different color temperatures. Professional cameras have A and B color temperature switches. Before shooting outside, I will do a white balance in the sunlight using the A switch. Then, I'll go into some deep shade and white balance using the B switch. If I am going back and forth between sun and shade, I can quickly switch between the two color temperatures. Of course going indoors means another white balance. Too bad there isn't a third C switch for that.

    3. NEVER use auto-focus. NEVER NEVER NEVER! Learn to crash focus everything before rolling. Crash focusing means to zoom right into the subject's face, focus, then zoom out to frame up your shot. You should focus on their eyes if possible. The eyes always have a shine to them, so it is easier to pick up a crisp focus than it is on their skin. Professional cameras don't even have an auto-focus.

    4. Always roll long. Roll the camera for 5 seconds before and after each shot. If you are interviewing someone, start recording a few seconds before you get them to talk, and continue recording for 5 seconds after they've finished talking. Sometimes this seems incredibly long when you are in the field. However, when you are back editing, the pre- and post-roll is very important. If you want to dissolve from your interview to another shot and you stopped recording right as the person stopped talking, your dissolve will happen while he is still talking. Not good.

    The same thing happens if you don't pre-roll before someone starts talking. If you want to dissolve to someone's message, you would end up dissolving into the shot while he is already talking. This looks really bad.

    Of course dissolving from one interview directly into another would be horrible because they would both be talking during the dissolve.

    5. Shoot lots of cut-a-ways. Cut-a-ways are your friends! Cut-a-ways are mainly used to edit out large gaps or mistakes from a shot without creating a noticable jump-cut.

    For example, let's say Uncle Joe is giving a speech to the Bride and right in the middle he is interrupted by something that you want to edit out. It looks bad to just edit it the bad spot have have is face jump abruptly from before to after the edit, known as a "jump-cut."

    What you do is edit the video the same way, with the jump-cut, so that with your eyes closed the audio sounds like he talked continuously through the edit. Then insert some video of the crowd of wedding-goers listening eagerly tables overtop of the audio edit. Start the "cut-a-way" a few seconds before the edit, and let it run a few seconds after the edit. Now the video looks like Uncle Joe talked continuously, without interruption, and you just happened to show the congretation to prove that they were still awake.

    You can use this technique all over your wedding video. If the wedding itself has huge gaps while your waiting for the bride to start down the aisle, you can cut-a-way to shots of the congregation eagerly waiting, then cut back to the bride starting down the aisle. In the background you may have edited out 5 minutes of wait time, but the video makes it look like things moved along at a good pace.

    The secret is to plan ahead and shoot all the cut-a-ways while you're at the wedding. Get shots of people sitting and watching the service, or standing and applauding after a speech. You can use the applause after ANY speech, not necessarily the one they were applauding for.

    Enough of my rampling....I hope this helps.

    Best of luck


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