Each of the five labs below will result in a short film. The first four labs will be more technical, like studies, and the last one will require a little more planning and creative work.
Groups of two
Goal: to get (re-)acquainted with the shooting, capturing, and exporting processes, and to experiment with the different ways of framing a subject for shooting.
Instructions: Choose one person or object you would like to document. Throughout the lab, be sure your subject is well-lit, and avoid bumpy or shaky footage. Use a tripod, place the camera on an unmoving surface, or hold the camera very steady to obtain your shots. Find interesting and effective locations. Work outdoors during the day, or turn on all the lights inside! Then, shoot your subject using six clearly different angles or shot types in six different locations. Two of these six options should involve a moving camera, and one should feature a limited depth of field. Transfer your video to computer. Edit and trim as necessary to make your lab about one minute in length, MOS.
Groups of three
Goal: To explore the three-point lighting system and its effect on the mood and depth associated with your scene and subject.
Instructions: Choose a person or object you would like to document, and compose a medium or full shot of the subject from any angle. Avoid bumpy or shaky footage. Experiment with the three point lighting system (key, fill, rim) to achieve and shoot three unique and effective combinations. Make use of available qualities and colours of light, and a lighting kit if need be. Be sure there is enough light to avoid grainy or underlit frames. One of your three lighting setups should feature a practical light. Transfer, edit, and trim, to make your lab about one minute in length, MOS.
Groups of four
Goals: to appropriately frame and light subjects; to clearly capture the audio from the shoot, particularly the voice.
Instructions: The subject of the Interview Lab will be storytelling. Each group member will be interviewed on camera. Choose an appropriate location for the interviews (or multiple locations), taking into account lighting and sound environment, and the physical space required to achieve the framing you desire. Consider the background: is it distracting? Double check that the sound capture is functioning properly, and that quality is as high as possible. Conduct and shoot the interviews. Don't forget to use a clapper, or something similar, to mark the start and finish of the shoot for potential sync issues, particularly if you aren't using the camera to record the sound. Transfer, edit, and trim to about two minutes in length. Sweeten the audio as necessary, but don't add any extra music or sound; keep it voice only.
Groups of four
Goals: to appropriately frame and light two or more subjects; to use two cameras to simultaneously capture the action from two different perspectives; to clearly capture the audio from the shoot, both voice and other location sound.
Instructions: Write or transcribe a script for a short conversation between two (or more) people, or arrange a comparable improv session. Aim for a dialog of about two minutes. You should have at least the following shots:
Choose an appropriate room for the dialog. In the room, make use of two cameras, frame the subjects, and ensure appropriate lighting. Double check the sound quality for both speakers. Conduct and shoot the sequence (you may wish to capture a few moments of video at the start or finish where no one is speaking). Don't forget to use a clapper, or something similar, to mark the start and finish of the shoot for potential sync issues, particularly if you aren't using the camera to record the sound. Transfer, edit, and trim to about two minutes in length. Don't worry too much about the pacing or style of the editing. Aim instead to show the two different camera angles in your finished product, and keep the dialog as smooth and understandable as possible. Sweeten the audio as necessary.
Alone, or with a partner
Goals: to combine the technical skills acquired from work on the preceding labs, to tell a story or deliver a message through your choice of shots, lighting, locations, audio, and basic editing, and to track time use throughout the production process.
Instructions: Create a documentary about a local person, organization, or location which is important to you. If you are planning on working with someone else, please let me know. If you are in doubt about the appropriateness of your subject, check with me before starting work. Think carefully about what story you want to tell about your subject, what message you want to deliver. Documentaries can tell a full range of stories: funny, sad, instructive, serious... Remember that the secret to any professional film making is preparation, so you should begin planning for this film immediately. Edit the film with whatever software you like. Any post-production audio must be royalty free. The finished product should be about five minutes in length.
Whenever you're working on your Documentary Lab, track your hours, and make note of what tasks you do when. Submit this simple journal via email to your instructor.