You get your actors together, you book the space, everyone gets ready and you start shooting - you then realize the battery is flat. It happens often and it's always nearly a disaster. Before you shoot think about:
- Batteries: If you're planning a long shoot, take multiple batteries or cameras. If you can't do that, plan to charge the camera between scenes. Whatever happens, make sure you charge everything ideally the night before and make sure everything is switched off so the batteries aren't getting run down without you noticing. Connecting to cameras with Wi-Fi also drains the battery, if you can use Bluetooth or just the manual button to keep as much battery as possible. With 360 you don't need to see what's being shot.
- Memory cards: Memory cards are surprisingly large these days and you don't need to worry too much about these, but always make sure you have enough. It's also advisable to clear out old videos and photos from the memory card before you shoot to make file management easier later on and make sure you have enough space. You can also take a laptop or something to the shoot and clear off memory cards while you go to save space and make sure the files are backed up.
- Lens: Keep your lens clean. Take lens cloth and cleaning fluid if you can. Everything will look way better.
Depending on what is going to happen in the scene, you want to position your camera carefully.
- 360 camera: Place the camera where the learner would be, at a normal head height on a monopod or mount from someone's head. Place it as close to the action as possible or as close as the learner would be. The advantage of a 360 camera is that the learner can compose the view themselves so you don't need to worry about getting everything in. Keep the camera as still as possible and keep any movement as slow and steady as possible.
- Mobile phone: For some scenarios, it's best to film all the action including with the learner in the shot, from the point of view of someone watching i.e. a bystander. In this example, it's good to keep the camera moving and add to the drama unfolding. If the shot is from the perspective of explaining a process or a situation and especially if you plan on adding voiceovers later, it's best to keep the camera stationary or moving as slowly as possible. You can use a tripod or gimbal to help with this.
Who is in the scene
If people are in the scene and not involved in the scenario, it's best they look away and focus on something else they're working on for example, unless the situation is dramatic and then they should all look at the action unfolding. If members of the public are in the scene or people who have not expressed permission to appear, please consult your local privacy laws. In New Zealand it is not illegal to include people in videos or photos if there is no expectation of privacy, but if they feature it in the video that you are likely to use it's polite to ask their permission. If you plan on using the footage in a publically available course you could get their contact details and contact them at a later date to confirm they are happy for the footage to be used.
If you are managing the shoot and you're using a 360 camera, you can hide behind something and control the camera from your phone. Otherwise, if you want to watch the action you can take the part of a role. The patient is a common one in medical scenarios!
If you're planning to have voiceovers in the scene or voices that are not spoken to the camera, it may be better to record the voice separately and add it to the scene later. You can use a better microphone than the microphone on the camera and record closer to the mic, and it's also easier to change at a later date if you need to. You may want the background noise in a video for the immersive effect.
Ideally, you'll have planned your course in the storyboard editor before you shoot and now have a scene list. You then have a list of scenes that you can number. When you shoot you should call out the scene number and the take number after you press record so your voice is at the start of the video. This will then make it easier to keep track of scenes later on.
- Get everyone in first positions
- Press record.
- Call out “Scene 4 take 2.. action”
- Then actors carry out the scene as planned.
- If it's a good take, make a note so you know which takes to process later
If you are using microphones on people and need to synchronize sound, you can also do a loud clap with your hands after “action” to make it easier to line up audio later.
When you get back from your shoot and are ready to process your files, it's best to do it all in one go. Organise your files on your computer before you upload them. The easiest thing to do is create a folder and give it a name that is relevant to the shoot. Copy all the files from all the memory cards into this folder.
You can either go through the files and check which ones you want to use here, which is more efficient. You can rename the files i.e. s4t2.mp4 (scene 4 take 2) to keep track of which ones they are and you can put them in another folder if you wish. Use your list of takes with the best ones marked down to decide which files you are going to process. It's worth keeping the others until you have properly checked and processed all the files from the shoot. Once you are sure you have got all the files you need you can delete the other ones if you need to save space on your device.
Stitching 360 files
If you've shot videos with a 360 camera you will probably need to stitch the files to make them ready to upload into ShowHow. They should be equirectangular videos in the mp4 format, at 4k ideally. The stitching software will depend on your camera.