Tea with my Aunt

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tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

I was having tea on the lawn with my aunt 2 weeks ago. Another couple were there with their toddler, who didn't talk but smiled happily and stumbled about trying to run before she could walk.

Her father had a Sony PC3 on the table, and every now and then he would pick it up and, without moving from his chair, film the little girl in short bursts. He held the camera in one hand and carried on chatting to the adults while he did it.

I expressed an interest in the Sony and asked if I could see it. I enthused as I twiddled with it, then asked if I could shoot some footage with it. "Sure", he said. "It's brand new. Go ahead".

So I zoomed to wideangle, switched the Steadyshot on, flipped open the side screen and wandered off. Out of sight I got out my (clean) hankie and gently removed the big thumb print from the front element, then proceeded to film his daughter down at her height.

It's not an easy thing to do with this shape of "upright" camera as you have to hold it from above, sort of. I knew the tape wasn't going to be edited (the thumbprint told me that) so I had to make sure every shot counted. I followed this little girl at tiny-tot's shoe level as she staggered about the lawn, falling and getting up again, giggling all the time. I tracked around her in big 360 degree circles and filmed her as she tottered away from me in laughing fright. I turned the viewscreen around so that she could see herself in this "magic mirror" as I was filming her. I did some short POV shots by staggering with the camera, and filmed her parents as they came to retrieve their little (exhausted) dharling after about 15 minutes. "she'll get over tired, Nigel".

Then, back being polite at the garden furniture, I rewound the film. I put it into play, turned up the volume and gave it to dad. I said something about how lovely little Jessica was but what I was really saying was this is what you must do: get off your bum and get on down. My back ached, but you know what? They watched the whole thing in absolute delight, letting their tea go cold and trying desperately to keep Jessica's jam riddled fingers off the menu buttons.

They thought I had "some sort of knack" but I don't. I simply sacrificed my scones and tea and proved again that in moviemaking, more pain = more gain.

tom.

simo
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Joined: Nov 17 1999

After reading this, everything you say makes sense, and I would like to think I would be more like you than your guest, however I am not sure. I too have a camera mainly for recording my new family or at least my little girl 10 months.

My question is where can I find a book (or an article in CV) that would explain the best things to do both when editing and filming at home, instead of on a set. Where there and extremely limited funds and very few supporting staff – The wife keeps telling me to put it away (Don’t be rude, I meant the camera)

Most of the books I have read talk about having other people to help you or having lighting and sound equipment that I am never going to purchase or hopefully need!

I have a Sony TRV10 (DV-In by LynxDV) with the Pyro Media Studio editing system running on a PIII 700, and although I can technically do everything I want I have not got any idea where to start. I appreciate this is what makes the difference between and amateur and a professional or even just the difference between people who have been using there camcorder for longer than I, but how do I start?

I thought about trying to join a club, but I cannot find one locally and I am also only interested in filming my family and me (at the moment anyway), and I get the feeling that most clubs are working towards a production.

I hope I have not waffled on and that you or anyone else on this board (Which I read daily) can help.

Thanks

Simo.

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www.simeon.dircon.co.uk

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Tom, don't be modest, of course you "have a knack". Most of us have if we try. You did the obvious thing, which is to go and get the pictures, not to wait for them to come to you. That's how it's done.

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alan@mugswellvillage.freeserve.co.uk. Delete village for a spam-free diet.

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

The first thing to do Simo is to pop into your local library and get out a book on movie making. There should be lots there, and it matters not if they talk of cine cameras or camcorders, the techniques used for getting interesting, well edited films up there on the screen are exactly the same.

Next, your TRV10 has a lot of manual controls and to get better results you'll need to learn a bit about photography. The same library will have starter books that'll explain focal lengths and apertures and shutter speeds and so on - all knowledge that will come in very usefull when you switch that camera off its auto setting.

In auto the TRV is an amazingly competent idiot. It'll continually adjust the focus, the aperture, the white balance and the shutter speed in an effort to give the best "average" result. In no time you'll start to spot the faults. You'll know when to use manual focus to stop the hunting. You'll soon learn that the light from our sun varies very little within any given hour, yet the camera is constantly changing the exposure simply because it can. It's often fooled.

There's lots to learn but you've got a great teaching tool. Go out and use that camera lots. And I mean lots. View the results critically, figure out what went wrong, go out and try again. Keep experimenting; it's almost for free. Seek and you shall learn.

tom.

simo
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Joined: Nov 17 1999

Thanks Tom, I have tried using some of the manual settings, but at the moment I have trouble spotting the difference, but having followed this forum and many of the suggestions that have been made I am getting better.

Once again thanks for the advice.

Simo

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www.simeon.dircon.co.uk

russ@countysound
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Joined: Sep 28 2000

A great book for all levels of filming
is 'On Camera' by Harris Watts.

Its been around for years, and has been updated and republished.

Its only about £12, and goes through the whole production process. It was written for producers, techies etc but with camera technology so much better(and cheaper) everyone should buy this book. For only 12 quid you can't go wrong and gives you plenty of info on filming techniques.