RedShark Replay: Always good to read editor and blogger Jonny Elwyns' handy list for shooters and camera ops on the many ways to not only keep their editors happy, but make them even happier.
As any experienced editor will tell you, after years of sifting through hours and hours of footage (some of it good, some of it bad, some of it very ugly), there are a few key things that anyone working behind the camera can do that make our lives much easier, the project far better, and the final result something we can all be proud of.
Of course, it's very easy for editors to turn into armchair critics. They didn't get up at 5 am to make the sunrise or drag heavy gear half way up a mountain, battling the elements just to get the perfect shot. But we do have the benefit of the perspective gained by leisurely skimming through the results of your hard graft. So here are 11 suggestions for things every editor wishes every camera operator always did, and hopefully they'll improve what you get in the can, and improve the life of editors everywhere.
The first and last suggestions are probably the most important!
- Shoot for the edit - Think in terms of sequences and storytelling. Make sure you've got an establishing wide, an interesting reveal, close ups, movement etc. If an interviewee mentioned a specific location, item, or view, try to grab that if you can. Also think in terms of triplets. Three shots most often make for a nice sequence of cutaways - two, not so much.
- Always roll - It's the 'bad bits' that we often use - re-focuses, lens whacking, snippets of background audio for filling in silences, etc. - so please don't wave your hand in front of the camera to say that it's no good. We might have a use for it anyway.
- Don't always roll - Editors don't love it when they have to copy, ingest, transcode and organise lots of footage that then turns out to be someone's feet, the inside of a car door, lens caps or other random things. Obviously, this isn't intentional, but if you know it's happened, please weed out the clip if you can.
- Metadata matters - Make sure that the reel names and timecode on your camera are set correctly and that they increment with each new card, tape or disc. The more information you can supply us the better. If you're keeping logging sheets or camera reports, please know we do actually look at them!
- Fix it in Camera - Ensuring your white balance and colour temperature are set correctly is extremely helpful. Not only is this a pretty basic element for a professional cameraman to get right, it can be sometimes very difficult to fix in the grade later on (if the project is lucky enough to have a grade), especially under more exotic lighting conditions, for example inside a factory or under-ground parking garage. And if you want to really go wild, actually shoot a colour chart.