I want to rock and roll all night…

I want to rock and roll all night…

… And film everyday!

After completing my three week internship for the Chalke Valley History Festival, I still needed one more week of media related work to finish my overall placement. Those three weeks were pretty intense, so I was after something easygoing this time around, and luckily I found just that! Advertised on the placement noticeboard was a one week internship with Rock Recruitment and to film nominations for their upcoming award ceremony. This sounded like the perfect opportunity for me – it was in Bournemouth so no need for me to travel extensively, it would require me to use my own equipment so no problem there, and it would only last a week! I applied to the post and sent off links to videos I thought would be similar to the work I would be doing with them and within no time at all I was working for Rock.

The original advert for the Rock placement:

“We are looking for a keen and experienced videographer to help us with one of our biggest projects of the year The Rock Star Awards. An awards show celebrating talented young people aged 16-26 around Dorset and Hampshire. As part of the awards process we hold judging days at the sponsors offices where nominated young people come along and take part in an interview panel so they can be whittled down to just three from five.

We need someone to help us film five of these interview panel days on the dates below:

• August 1st – Bournemouth University
• August 2nd – Bournemouth University
• August 3rd – Greendale Construction
• August 4th – Streetwise HR
• August 7th – Breeze VW

You will be briefed on what you need to do specifically from Justin Smith who is the owner of Orbital Bournemouth a local graphic designer and creative agency. After filming on these five days you will have the opportunity to edit these videos with Justin, so you will see the full circle of project.”

I had my interview on the 13th of July and it was the scariest but nicest interview I have ever had. How? When I arrived at Orbital to meet Fleur and Justin, who would be conducting the interview, I was told to play a game of pool whilst I wait. I suck at pool and rarely play it. And to play a game in front of my prospective employers as they finished up work is quite nerve racking. In fact, I sneakily messaged my friends who were still on their placement the predicament I was in and this was their response…

I didn’t pot a single ball.

The actual job that I would be doing would be filming the nominees for each category of the Rock Star Award over the one week period. These films would be simple one minute interviews of the candidates saying why and how they are worthy for the award. Such a simple task too, that all I would need to do is compose a nice shot, lock it off, and make sure the audio is clear. I showed Fleur and Justin the videos I had made for European Maritime Day and they said they’d be exactly the same as that (but making sure this time that the audio was clean). The interview ended and Justin and I got to know each other by nerding out over kit.

Day 1

The first set of nomination videos were for the Company Star Award and held at Street Wise HR.

I didn’t know what the location would be like, nor did I know how quite I was going to film these interviews, so I travelled heavy and took with me most of my filmmaking equipment so I would be ready for any outcome. We were given a cosy meeting room to conduct the videos but by moving the chairs and table close to the wall gave us enough space to work with.

The setup for this category was interesting for me. I used a lens I hardly touch – the 28mm f2.8 – this was because my lens of choice – the 50mm f1.9 – produced a too tight shot even with the camera as far back to the wall I could get it. At a whole stop slower compared to the 50, I needed more light in the room, but this only gave me more opportunity to mess with lighting to produce an interesting image. Using Fleur as my stand-in I adjusted the lighting. I placed one LED panel behind where the subject would stand, one on the table, and kept the house lights on.

Street Wise HR - Lighting Set Up

Having one LED panel shine behind the subject acted as the back light of my three point lighting system and illuminated the backdrop, giving the subject a ‘ready brek glow’ and defining them from the grey wall. I positioned the other LED facing the ceiling where the light would bounce off and fill the room. A reflector was secured to a light stand to further bounce the table LED to the subjects face. Tape was placed where the subjects would stand so the shots would remain consistent, and the microphone was a foot or two away on a mic stand.

Company Star Nomination Composition

Like any film set or shooting location, one must respect the workplace they’re in. Tidy up after filming has finished, collect and dispose of all rubbish, and restore the location to the sate it was found – a good crew will go the extra mile to make it better than how they found it. In the boardroom we were filming, Fleur and I had to move their lovely wood table – naturally we took care in the rearrangement, and manoeuvred it back when we wrapped. But when it comes to respecting the location one is working in, I used coasters under each foot of my tripod and light stand that was on the table surface so they would not scratch or dent the finish.

The day at Street Wise HR went really well overall. They provided us with lunch and snacks, and it was great getting to know Fleur and the people behind Rock. Even though I was happy with the results of the filming, I was and still am scared as to whether or not they would approve of the footage.

Day 2 & 3

The next set of filming would be for the Shooting Star Award hosted at Breeze Volkswagen. Here our day would revolve around young and upcoming candidates and their work they’ve done in their careers. For this shoot we were given another office-type room to conduct the interviews. Locked off and out of sight, this room was similar to Street Wise HR, however did not have any contrasting colours or textures for candidates to stand in front. As a white walled room, it was sufficiently bright to film in – the only adjustments to do was to place a reflector under the subjects to remove shadows cast downwards by the office room’s skylight. Filming went well and again it was interesting listening to the stories of how the candidates came to being nominated.

Breeze Volkswagen was the nicest location we filmed in during the week – it was well lit, spacious, and modern. This sadly proved difficult in the composition of the interviews – being separated from the employees was nice as it provided clean and uninterrupted audio, however at a cost of the shot being boring. When filming the sponsor, we chose to shoot on the balcony which overlooked the entire showroom giving tremendous depth to the shot but sadly adding background noise to the audio. In retrospect, I wish all the interviews had been filmed there, though the contrast between the sponsor and nominations did work out nicely.

In comparison, here are the compositions of the nominations and the sponsor video.

Respect to the filming location was talked about for the previous day, health and safety for this location shall be talked about this day. Health and safety is no laughing matter and must always be taken seriously – and film sets are no exception! Whether it be a small filming session like these Rock interviews, or a Hollywood blockbuster, the health and of safety of cast, crew, and public must have the utmost importance.

Filming the sponsor on the balcony at Breeze Volkswagen required careful consideration – it was an active walkway in a working environment. Everything that was not necessary for the video was packed away and put on top of the filing cabinets which lined the office space – this made sure the walkway remained clear. The equipment that was necessary was the camera and tripod, mic and mic stand, sponsor banner, and talent. Fleur and I warned employees we would be filming on the balcony and made sure people were aware of our presence when they passed.

One of the major hazards when we were filming on this active walkway were trip hazards (which is why bags and equipment not in use were off the floor). For the audio setup, a cable had to travel from the microphone to the the recorder and the only way it could do that was over the floor which poses serious risk to passers by. Thankfully my cables I use are brightly coloured and stand out so people can see them (most filmmaking equipment and cables are black which blend in with their surroundings). Further, I removed any slack and taped down the cable with fluorescent yellow tape. At uni, and really a standard for any motion picture, a risk assessment must be completed before filming where risks for a shoot are assessed on their severity. For risk assessments at BU, one of the sections is on cable management and requiring students to tie up and tape down loose cables. I have never seen another student actually do that – as far as I know, I am the only student who tapes down cables.

Day 4

Greendale Construction would be our next filming location for the Inspirational Star Award where we would be humbled with the stories of perseverance and adversary the nominees had faced. This shoot I would be shadowing Justin and learning how he goes about filming these types of projects. Taking a step back into being an observer, I was writing in my notebook for most of the day. It was reassuring seeing Justin use the same or similar pieces of equipment I have and his methods of using them.

It was also enjoyable sitting with him between takes and asking questions about his photography work and how such shots are achieved, with one quote in particular sticking in my mind “pressing the trigger at the right time to capture that smile at its most natural state” – meaning timing it right to release the shutter before the smile becomes a staged smile and loses its candour.

NTSC 30fps, Shutter 1/100, ISO 200, f2.2

Though there was one thing that puzzled me about Justin’s method of filming which I had to question him on… His reasoning behind filming NTSC 30fps. In Europe and the UK, the standard is PAL 25fps and is the “dominant format in the World for analogue television broadcasting and analogue video display”. NTSC (National Television System Committee) is the American standard and based on their AC power supply of 60hz and their equation for interlaced video.

There’s a lot of history surrounding the two standards, but to cut a long story short, the UK’s PAL system produces a higher quality image in comparison to America’s NTSC – “PAL may have fewer frames per second, but it also has more horizontal lines than NTSC. PAL television broadcasts have 625 lines of resolution, compared to NTSC’s 525. More lines means more visual information, which equals better picture quality and resolution”. PAL also has better control over colour stability than NTSC. It all stems from the amount of horizontal lines used in a pass of an electron beam to produce an image in relation to its broadcast frequency, power supply, and frame rate. These videos and articles give detail into the difference between PAL and NTSc – Diffen, LifeWire, StandUpMaths 

I just found it interesting why Justin would choose to film the American standard and not the Uk’s. When asked, Justin’s reasoning was down to his process for editing, and that he found it easier to cut frames and add transitions in denominations of 5 and 10 frames than to have to deal with 24fps or 25fps.

Probably the main thing I took away from working with Justin though, was how he interacted with the nominees and sponsors.

I may be shy at times but I’m only starting out, give me more time and guidance and I’m sure to be more confident and natural around people in a working environment.

Like all shoots I go on, I am always grateful for the opportunity. Working with Fleur, Justin, and Rock Recruitment was a lovely experience and thoroughly enjoyable. The stories of each candidate gave perspective to why the Rock Star Awards is a great opportunity for Dorset and I look forward to the winners being revealed. This week provided me with new contacts and a dose of confidence in filming. I gained some wonderful experience and stories to boot. Thank you.

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