60-minutes has posted a great behind-the-scenes look at a new Animal Planet program called ‘Spy on the Ice’. (click here) It is a close-up look at polar bears, filmed with extremely creative techniques: remote control cameras disguised as ice, cameras that move on skis, etc. This is the work of John Downer, who pioneered many of these creative approaches. (Learn more about John here). Early in his career, John reared a duck from an egg to enable himself to get closeup shots of a flying duck.
I love this stuff! These are such clever ways to approach filming, it makes me want get out there and build such things. Take inspiration from people like John: the only thing that limits you is your mind!
Alan Alda has been studying ways to engage the public with science. He recommends the following:
Attraction – use body language, tone of voice, and eye contact more than words to grab audiences in the first two minutes.
Infatuation – use emotion, personal anecdotes, and stories to keep your ideas in the audience’s mind.
Commitment – maintain an ongoing connecting with the audience by listening and responding to what they’re asking.
For more information, surf to this article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/at-work/education/alan-alda-tutors-scientists-in-communication
One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of your video production is to make sure that your camera work is either rock solid (i.e. use a tripod), or that your camera movements are fluid and smooth.
There are software plugins (e.g. Stabilizer in iMovie ’09 and newer, or SmoothCam in Final Cut Pro) that allow you to fix shaky video clips. But, we all know it is better to shoot properly in the first place, so you don’t have to spend time fixing your shots later.
There are numerous commercially available ‘SteadiCam’ units, but these tend to be rather expensive. I am always looking out for DIY ways to cut down production costs, so I was pleased to find… the $14 camera stabilizer.
Johnny Chung Lee has a great website with plans, demo videos, and general good advice for making your own camera stabilizer. It may not look as nice as the commercial units, but whatever gets the job done is just fine!
Check out the $14 camera stabilizer here
The Centre for Social Media at American University has a great webpage outlining the ‘Best Practices for Sustainable Filmmaking’. They cover everything from feeding yourself ethically on a shoot to calculating the carbon budget for your project. Some great tips here to help you practice what you preach if you are making films about environmental awareness. It may not be possible to do everything on this list immediately, but lots of food for thought.
See the Code of Best Practices for Sustainable Filmmaking here.
Make sure to read right to the bottom; you can download a PDF and all the related documents there.