Selecting the right camera
A good place to start is how you’re going to shoot scenarios, what camera are you going to use? It’s best if it’s consistent throughout, however you can also change the camera if you want to show different perspectives.
We tend to use 360 cameras such as the Go Pro Max for shooting scenarios. This gives a first-person perspective, is very easy for one person to manage, and doesn’t require any composition. Other options include a range of video and digital cameras including mobile devices.
If you want to shoot a scenario where you may observe something happening as a bystander, and then are given the opportunity to experience it from a first-person perspective - that would be a good reason to start with mobile phone footage and then move to a 360 camera.
There are a lot of 360 cameras on the market, try and avoid anything lower than 5.7k resolution. Ideally a minimum of 4K resolution on a mobile phone or another camera.
When deciding where to shoot you want it as realistic as possible, i.e. the actual environment where the scenario would happen or somewhere similar. Important things to consider are noise - background noise is desirable, but if it’s too loud it will make dialogue hard to hear.
If the area is public and likely to have people or cars moving through the scenes, try and time it for a quiet period when there are fewer people around. If people are prominent in the scenes and recognizable, you will need their permission. It’s a good idea to keep talent release forms handy if this is likely to happen.
Also, consider lighting. If you’re indoors, well lit is best - but try and avoid mixing light sources, i.e. direct sunlight from windows and fluorescent lighting can lead to a flickering/rolling shutter effect. Pull a curtain to block the direct sunlight in that situation.
This will depend on the effect you are looking for - the options are tripod, hand, or head-mounted. If the scenario is designed to be from the first-person perspective, we recommend head mounted as one person can film it and it’s easy for actors to talk to a real person rather than a camera. You can also get closer to the action and realism.
If you are planning on creating a VR scenario that will be used in a VR headset, you will need very stable video - best shot on a tripod. Head-mounted is possible if the person is very still. Something else to consider, video files are smaller if less of the picture is moving - i.e. the camera is stationary.
If you are using a mobile phone, shooting from the hand is fine and will produce that ‘bystander’ effect that can feel quite authentic.
Working with actors
If you have hired external talent, generally, they should be proficient in working with cameras, remembering dialogue, and showing emotions. If you are aiming for a first-person scenario, they need to be instructed to treat the camera like a person and talk directly to the camera.
If you don’t know any actors, we use online casting directories such as StarNow to find them.
Calling the scenes
If you’ve storyboarded the scenario beforehand, you will have your scene numbers. If not, it’s best to quickly plan the scenes and label them - it will make finding them later much easier.
When you are ready to shoot, we recommend calling out the name of the scenes and the take after you press record i.e. “scene 1 take 1.. Go”. This will make organising your footage later much easier. Generally, it will be the last take but sometimes you may have options you want to try.