Capturing footage on the run

Lesson of the week: Capturing footage is all about getting out and doing it.

This week we were all sitting in the office working away and all of the sudden we heard sirens screaming outside of our office. A quick peek out the window revealed a gathering of fire trucks outside of a soon to be H&M clothing store.

As we all craned our necks and tried to get a good look out of our second story windows, Chad mentioned, “Why doesn’t someone go grab some B-Roll.” It would have been very easy for all of us to say, “I’m too busy with this” or “I’m too busy with that,” and it probably would have been true.

This brings me back to my first point. In this industry, its all about getting out and doing it. Talking about capturing footage is NOT the same as capturing footage. Rob and I grabbed a couple of cameras that we had in the office. The camera that was available was a Canon 7D with a 70-200 lens (for those not familiar, this is a pretty hefty lens). Not knowing how long the action was going to be going on, and with the tripods and camera rigs all up in the studio, I decided to forego camera support and try to shoot handheld.

Conventional wisdom would say its foolish to hand-hold such a camera/lens combination, but in my experience, the best footage is often the footage that you have. I decided that rather than to spend valuable time setting up a rig or simply giving up on shooting because the footage would be shaky, I would improvise. I lean up against a wall, used a trashcan and a parking meter for support, dug my elbows into my gut and did the best I could do to get stable.

There wasn’t much action going on but Rob and I captured what we could. It all lasted about ten minutes before we headed back inside. When we got back to the office and looked at what we shot, it turned out we had some serviceable footage. As expected, it was a bit shaky, but the camera motion which I was afraid would ruin the footage actually added tension to an otherwise pretty boring scene. I tried to embrace the tension when I quickly cut together this clip and wound up with something far more dramatic than the scene we witnessed.

If I had taken time to build the shoulder rig or go chase down a tripod, I probably would have missed it all together. Imagine 5 months down the line I have a project that calls for footage of a fire. Rather than having to set up a scene with fire trucks and fire men in costume, I can go to my footage I captured outside the office and possibly find something nice that will fit. I guess it just goes to show you, sometimes you just have to get out there and do it.

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