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Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice

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Cade Muhlig
Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 7, 2009 at 5:04:13 am

Hello,
this is my first post on the cine forum, i was hoping i could get some advice.
Im a part of a non-profit group that does a lot of travel. We've done large christian events in places like pakistan to brazil, and many others. I learned how to shoot just on the go, with no previous training. When we get back from the trips, i edit it, then put our videos on the web, pubic access television, and dvd, so a pretty broad target audience.

Honestly, I consider my video skills, a little under where they should be. This makes editing a very long and difficult process. And Id like some shooting advise or tips for what you would look for, or anything that might be helpful, as well as the bigger goal of story making. How am I supposed to develop a story in such a sort time? From basic to advanced, please share your wisdom, thoughts, or ideas.

also, to be specific, we are leaving this Saturday to Bolivia, where we will be talking mostly in schools, as well as a few churches.

Thank you


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Cade Muhlig
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 7, 2009 at 5:06:27 am

oh, and not that it's too important, but Ill be using a Z1U, with shotgun mics and wireless/wired lapels




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John Cummings
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:15:58 pm

Hate to say this, but you can't learn how to shoot on a discussion board.

Depending where you are, you might find basic classes at a local community college.

Outside of hiring a professional(your best option)your second best bet would be finding an experienced documentary photographer or news cameraman that might be willing to accompany you (expenses paid) on one of your trips just for the life experience or to have something new for their reel. Once you have a person like that on your trip, you will have them "held hostage" while you observe their technique and pick their brain. That's the best way to learn.

I'm sure there are some good shooters out there that just may share your beliefs or may just want to do a good deed for an established religion. The challenge would be how to connect with such a person.

I do know quite a few shooters...feel free to message me off-board if
you would to kick around some ideas.

J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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jon agnew
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 8, 2009 at 9:25:55 pm

When I was still in college, I documented a few mission trips to Brasil for a friend's parents who were missionaries. It was a great learning experience for me, as I'm sure it will be for you as well.

I hate to say this because I hate when producers do it to me, but....roll on everything. Because you are not going into this with a specific story in mind, rolling more often than not can be beneficial when you catch some happy accidents. Life only happens once...be rolling when it does. That said, however, you should take some time on the plane to figure out a rough story idea....or at least to answer some basic questions about your goals with the project. What are you trying to accomplish in these schools and churches? What kind of footage would be ideal to communicate this to the viewer? Is this about the missionaries' experiences or about the impact that they have on those to whom they minister? Stuff like that. If you can go into the project with some very rough guidelines like this, it will make it easier to make tough decisions on the fly.

Shoot lots of B-Roll...shoot the heck out of locations. Get people filing into the church...shoot their feet...hands...smiles...tears...etc. Shoot as much as you can in the towns and cities that you will be visiting. Cars racing by on over-crowded streets...a cow-pulled cart...anything interesting that you see that you can use to convey the feeling of being there to the viewer. Having good B-Roll will make your transitions from one scene to the next much easier in post.

Watch the shakiness of your camera. This may seem obvious, but when you roll all day long, it can become very easy to get lazy with your handheld shots. Speaking of shooting handheld...USE YOUR TRIPOD!!! With documentary/reality projects, handheld is a necessary evil. Using your tripod every now and then, especially for B-Roll, will give you a good way to break up the dizzying effect of a shaky camera.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.



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Thompson Coles
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 8, 2009 at 10:42:07 pm

The best advice I could give is , when shooting think like an editor. where is your cutaway, what establishes the location. the most helpful thing you could do for yourself is shoot cutaways that will assist in pacing the end show. when you don't know the story you must be always thinking on your feet about how every major piece of video can be displayed as an end product. Hard to get used to but it is possible. and as a self taught shooter I say - VOOM IN. i don't know your video, never seen them. but something that seems consistent among novice and self taught shooters is the always wide angle. video is an intimate medium, don't be afraid of missing something so much that you are always wide.

my 2cents
Thompson


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Cade Muhlig
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 9, 2009 at 4:52:08 am

Hey, thanks for the great advice from last two posts.
Good advice from people can be hard to come by. This very helpful. Ill keep this in mind.
Ill try to remember to let ya'll know how it goes!


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James Dow
Re: Travel/Documentary/Mission trip...need advice
on Apr 18, 2009 at 6:36:20 pm

FWIW....I do a lot of 3rd world shooting and I know it's tempting to travel as light as possible. You didn't mention anything about gear, so forgive me if I'm stating the obvious. If you know that you can't rent any gear where you will be, then you must travel with a decent tripod. This is a pain in the airports, but it is worth it. Smoothcam in FCP should be a last resort for getting rid of those "zoomed in handheld shots." Worst case, take a monopod. Also, if your not traveling with a light kit, at least take a small flex-fill reflector and a small box of aluminum foil. If you have a camera light, try to soften it with some tuff-spun or other diffusion material. You mentioned wireless mics...you never know in other countries, in regards to interference, so take a wired lav mic, just in case. Good Luck!

James

JPD


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