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Welcome to Your Documenting Wiki!

This wiki is created to provide you with useful tips and resources to guide you through the production of documenting your school. If you have any questions or concerns, please refer to the discussion tab at the top of this page and leave us a comment. We'll be happy to get back to you as soon as we can.

Tech Support Team: iChat and email

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Rosa Ruvalcaba:
Elizabeth Ruvalcaba:
Marco Torres:
(AIM) mrtorres21

Your Gear:

Some of you have been supplied with the gear that you need to document your project. Here is what this looks like:

Canon HF 10

Great HD quality in the convenience of a small inexpensive camera. One of a few camcorders out there that comes with a headphone and mic input, so you can hear what you're recording to ensure that you have great sound. This camera also records straight onto an on board memory chip and or an SDHC memory card, so it saves you the hassle of having to purchase mini-dv tapes. There is a downside-- YOU WILL NEED A MASSIVE STORAGE DEVICE FOR YOUR CLASSROOM if you plan to use a lot of video.

I recommend these:

Lacie 1TB
Western Digital 1TB

Download the instruction manual here.

NOTE: because the camera is compressing video on the fly-- the footage is expanded in iMovie and FCP. What this means is that the file grows in file size to 1 min = 1 GB. Also, the decompression takes time. For every minute of shot footage-- it will take about 2 minutes (not all of the time) to decompress. It may seem strange to you-- but this process allows people to shoot up to 40 min in 8gb cards.

NOTE: you can choose to shoot in 24p mode, too. This gives the perspective and feel of film. You have to change this in the FUNCTION/MENU. Normal HD shoots at 60 frames per second, whereas film shoots at 24 frames per second. This option is for personal preference, usually used
by movie making afficionados. Also, if you plan to use the SDHC card reader-- you will need to make sure the camera is set to record onto it as oppose to the default location: the built in memory chip.

See video for specifics

Azden SGM1X

This boom mic is great for picking up audio. It's a directional mic, so it will primarily pick up audio only from the direction that it is being pointed at. It's great for interviews that include more than one person, allowing you to pick up everybody's sound.

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Female XLR to mini cable

This cable connects you from your mic to your camera. It's ten feet, giving you enough range to have your mic at a good distance from the camera.

Recommended Gear

Sima SLB-M Video Bracket

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This video bracket comes in very handy. Priced at about 15-20 bucks, it will help you stabilize yourself, creating more
steady shots. You can mount a small light on it or a microphone.

Mounting the mic on here is ideal, because when you place a mic too close to your camera (for example on the mount that comes on your camera), you might record the sounds that your camera is making. But, if you mount it on the bracket, you'll get better sound and better
looking footage!

Buy it here!


NOTE: When importing your footage to either iMovie or Final Cut Pro, make sure that your camera is connected, powered on, that the LCD screen is open and that you are set to playback mode.


If you're using iMovie, make sure that you are running iMovie 08, earlier versions will not work.

When you open up iMovie, your camera will automatically be detected. You can select the clips that
you want to bring in and then select “Import selected.”

Next, an option will appear that will allow you to title your new event. You will also have the option to save
your footage at full size or large size. Hit ok and your footage will be stored to iMovie.

Here is a movie to explain this.

Final Cut Pro 2

If you're using Final Cut Pro, go to File>log and transfer, select your clips, then add them to your queue.
Recommendation: name your clips & add some log notes to them, especially if you have interviews. This will
help you find footage later on and will save you some time.

Here is a movie to explain this.

Importing to SDHC cards as oppose to the internal memory card.

If you don't want to use the camera as an importing device-- I recommend getting an inexpensive SDHC card
reader from BestBuy or Amazon. They run between $10 and $20. This way you will not need to use the camera
for this part. NOTE: you have to use SDHC cards and SDHC card readers.

If you plan to use the SDHC card reader-- you will need to make sure the camera is set to record onto it as oppose to the default location: the built in memory chip. Click here to see how to import using a card reader.

Here is the link for this reader at Amazon.

Manual focus may be better

Sometimes you may want to focus on a specific thing that automatic focus is blurring. Check out a video
tutorial on setting manual focus so that you can focus on what you want.

Rule of Thirds Grid

It's easier to follow the rule of thirds when you have them right on your LCD screen. Click here to see how
to add grids also known as markers to your camera.

Importing from the camera to Mac

When importing your footage from your camera, a message will appear on the LCD screen that reads, “select the device type
for the USB connection” Make sure to scroll to the right option, “PC/PRINTER”.


Making sure your headphones work.

When you're in playback or vcr mode, you'll notice that you get a loud screeching noise when you plug in your headphones. In order
to hear what you recorded, you'll need to go into the menu and change your settings from AV to PHONES. Click here to see how to do this.


Interviewing Tips

Picking an Interview Location

If you can, pick a place for the interviews. Make sure it's a place where you can control the light and minimize external audio. Hallways with students walking in the background might seem like a good idea, but keep in mind that they will be noisy. Be conscious of where you shoot, paying particular attention to light and sound.

Varied Conversation Poses

If you're filming in the same place for several interviews, switch up your poses! Place your interviewee to the right or left of the frame and go switching it up. If you can, change the background. Try different colored walls to switch up your backgrounds, this will make it look like you had a variety of shooting locations.

Eye line

When filming, you want to make sure that the interviewer is as close to the camera as possible. The only people who look comfortable staring straight into a camera are, you guessed it, news anchors. For the rest of us, it's easier to feel that you're having a conversation with someone. So by placing the interviewer as close to the camera as possible, the interviewee's eyes will be pretty close to looking at the camera.

Also, if your subject is on the left of your frame, you want their eyes looking to their right. If they're on the right of the frame, you want their eyes looking to their left.

Real World Example

(used with fair use/ education permission)

A great example of this kind of work is what is done in the Office (the TV Show). They do a lot of "fly on the wall" documenting, but they have a special place for interviews. Check out these clips to see what we mean. BTW: Check out their following of the rule-of-thirds, eye lines, and even lighting. They also stop what they're doing to talk to the camera.

Note Taking:

Take notes during the interview; write down important points that people make. When you want to go back to find something that your interviewee said, it'll be faster to skim through notes than to view a ton of footage. Also, write down the person's name and have them say it while they're being recorded. In case you lose your notes, you'll have it archived on video.



Light is extremely important. You don't want your footage to be too light or too dark. The following tips will help you learn to deal with light under different situations.

Step 1: Find the light before shooting.
Use your hand as a light meter to find where the best light is. Here's the link.

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Diffusing hard light. Make the light softer.
Use a diffuser when filming in direct sunlight. See what a difference this will make.
Click here. Here we had a person standing up holding a light disk to diffuse the harsh sunlight that was hitting our subjects.

Mark is diffusing the direct sunlight by adding this translucent material in between the subject and the sun. This makes the light even and eliminates the hard shadows that may interfere with how the interview will come off. Hard shadows may hide the eyes, thus, making the subject appear scary and mysterious.
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Natural light is ideal. Bounce it, too!
You can use natural light to light your subject. What we did is use a reflector or anything with a reflective surface to reflect the natural light from the window. This fills in the shadow created by the light source. Look at this image and see what the reflector does to fill in the shaded area. Remember: what looks dark on the camera will look extra dark on the screen. Think BRIGHT!

(ADVANCED TIP) 3 Point Lighting Basics
This is a video DV Creators produced explaining 3 point lighting for interviews. If the school can afford a kit like this-- this is a small kit that can travel with the shooting team.

Another advanced tip is to creatively add dimension to the background by using light in a variety of colors to create a better sense of separation. Here is a video showing the beauty of lighting people and their backgrounds to better tell stories. Look for yourself. HERE.


It's important to get a variety of shots when documenting. Coverage shots are composed
of wide, medium, and close up shots. Wide shots establish location, medium or mid shots
are used to show action, and close ups or tight shots are used to show emotions. Here's a
link to an example.

A-roll & B-roll

A-roll refers to footage where there's a talking head, like a person being interviewed. B-roll
is secondary footage. This is usually video or photos that show what the person is talking
about. Here's an example of what this looks like.

White Balance

When filming or taking a picture, you'll sometimes notice that your footage might
be a bit too yellow or blue, this is why you need to white balance. This sets your
white as the exact shade that is needs to be so that the rest of your colors are
balanced. Check this video out.

How do you white balance on your camera?

Hit function, scroll down and you'll see what your white balance options are. There a few
presets for different lighting situations like sunny, flourescent lighting, etc. You can also white
balance by aiming your camera at something white, like a sheet of paper, scrolling all the way
to the right, and hitting the white balance button. This will set the right color balance for your
particular setting.

Rule of Thirds

Most cameras come with an option of showing a grid (rule of thirds) that makes it easier to make
sure you get your composition right. What is the rule of thirds? Two equally spaced horizontal lines
that are intersected by two vertical lines. You want to make sure to place your subject where the
lines intersect. The top horizontal line is also known as the eye line. When interviewing someone,
this is how your composition should look.

Audio Tips


There are 3 kinds of mics.

Handhelds, lavaliers also known as wireless mics, and booms or shotgun mics. Check out this video for more information on how these mics work.

The Zoom H4

Handy Digital Recorder is a great field recorder. It fits in your hand, making it really portable. Don't have your boom mic on you? No problem! You can use this with your video camera. Just sync the audio from this hand held recorder to your camera. How do you do this? Click here to learn.
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M-Audio Microtrack

2-channel WAV (BWF) and MP3 recording and playback > perfect for field recording, songwriting, training, education and worship

new features include extended input gain range, analog input limiter and seamless recording of files beyond 2GB in size > enhanced performance

battery operated; storage via CompactFlash or microdrives > mobility and convenience

drag-and-drop file transfer to PC and Mac > upload and share your content in minutes

balanced ¼” TRS inputs with line inputs and 48V phantom-powered mic preamps > professional-quality recording

Room Tone. Ambient sound.

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To help the editors control audio better during post production, a snapshot of the room's noise is needed. Evey space has different levels of background noise/ sounds. Background noise may differ from space to space, therefore background noise, ambient noise is needed to help the transition from room to room.

In the edit, about 30 seconds of background noise is laid down in its own audio track (In FCP only). Whoever was interviewed in that room will have background (or room tone) beneath them, so, when there's a cut or edit-- the sound doesn't completely cut out to nothing. This would overemphasize that there was a cut, thus taking away from what is being said.

See video for explanation.

Syncing Audio in Final Cut Pro

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If you don't have a good way to get great audio from your camera (no mic and headphone option)-- there is still a cool way to bring in audio into Final Cut Pro. Here's a movie on how to record the audio from a recording device and then importing it into Final Cut Pro.


In FCP, you line up the clap spikes (see image to the left) and then delete the camera audio. To do this. lock the video clip linked to the poor camera audio and then delete it. NOTE: If you don't lock the video clip-- you will delete it. The default setting links the source audio to its video clip. You will see a "V" layer and 2 "A" layers (Left and Right). Here is a movie that shows this process in better detail.


A more detailed explanation is found in this movie


Photography Tips

Action Only. Don't be a poser.

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Be a "fly on the wall". It's a strange analogy, but a lot of photographers use it. It simply means, observe and capture what's happening-- don't force anything.

Don't pose your students, friends, and colleagues. Work around the room. Capture what's happening. If it's teamwork-- capture the people in the team, capture the action.

If they are really focused, or excited, or are showing any other emotion-- zoom into their faces and capture the feeling.

You may want to shoot some wider classroom shots. These wider shots give the viewers context of where the action and emotions are taking place.
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In movie making, there are 3 different types of shots: Wide, Medium, Close ups. They all have a grammatical purpose-- they tell an important part of the story. Here's how:

WIDE: This shot provides context, setting-- where is it happening?

MEDIUM: This shot communicates action-- what is happening?

CLOSE UP: This shot gives us the detail and emotions-- what are they thinking, what are they feeling?

Shoot a lot

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A lot of people are uncomfortable when there are cameras around. Many times, photographers interrupt what's happening and try to pose their shot. People, for the most part, DON'T LIKE THIS. I know this may sound corny to some, but comfortability and trust are key to a good photographer.

One way to start building trust is to take a lot of images. The good thing about digital is that you don't have to use them all. For me, I shoot a lot around the perimeter of the class and slowly work my way in. I ask the class questions about what they're doing, their opinions, etc. I am getting them comfortable with me and my camera. I ask them if I can shoot what they're doing. Keep shooting.

If you do this often-- students will get used to it. TRUST ME. Again, start wide, shoot the classroom, work your way into groups and group work, and then focus on faces-- the toughest shots.

3 Different Ways to Shoot

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Shoot in a controlled setting.

Pick a quiet location where you have control over the sound and light.

Check out this example.
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Shoot inside the classroom.

Make sure your microphone is primarily picking up audio from the
person that you are shooting, not the background noise.

Check out this example.
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Shoot b-roll in the classroom.

Shoot your students in action. You can lay these clips over
your interviews to give people visuals of what the interviewee is talking about.

Check out this example.

Name and save the images

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To help make sense of the many images you'll be taking (or making)-- I recommend you name them so we can help make sense:

SCHOOL_WK#_TEACHER/STUDENT/ADMIN_CU_2girls. For example "Manor_WK2_Students_2girls"




Need to learn how to export from Quicktime or iMovie? Click here. Scroll down to check out the examples.

PLEASE. Keep the raw files, in their larger size save and archive them on a hard drive. We may need access to those files afterwards. THANKS

Compress the movies

After exporting your movie, compress it to make it into a smaller sized video so that you can upload it to either the web or your idisk. Click here for a quick tutorial on using compressor.

Here are the 3 different ways on how we want you to compress the movies you shoot.
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Final Cut Pro

Here are the ideal settings you need to use prior to uploading the movies to your iDisk. The purpose here is to help NMC and our team to view and keep track of your answers.

In FCP, you'll need to EXPORT it out to Compressor (Apple's Compression tool). Once open (see movie below), drag and drop the apple iPhone setting over the movie; after, click the destination setting and choose Desktop. Click Submit and wait as Compressor compresses the movie to a file size that can be uploaded.

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If you're using iMovie08-- here are the ideal settings you need to use prior to uploading the movies to your iDisk. The purpose here is to help NMC and our team to view and keep track of your answers.

In iMovie, go to SHARE and choose the following settings. These settings will give you a nice size to upload to your iDisk.

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If all you have is Quicktime-- here are the ideal settings you need to use prior to uploading the movies to your iDisk. The purpose here is to help NMC and our team to view and keep track of your answers.

in Quicktime, Go to FILE>EXPORT then choose the "iPhone" settings. This is a good setting for us.
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Option 1: iDIsk

Once your video is done compressing, upload it to your idisk. To do this, click on Go on your menu bar, then click on idisk, other users idisk, then type in your user name and password. When you double click on your hard drive, you'll see the idisk on your left hand side. Drag over your files and you're done!

Option 2: gallery.me.com

An Alternative to uploading directly to the iDisk is publishing directly to the gallery using the MobileMe.

Here is a movie on how to do this.

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NOTE: Mark Nichols gave all of you your own school iDisk/ MobileMe account. If you have problems accessing it-- let us know asap. Thanks.


Other Resources:


Moviemaking Curriculum:

Here is a link to a book that Marco Torres
recently wrote for Apple on moviemaking in the classroom.


Here is a link to our ongoing library of great resource that has tons of
tips and tricks for not only video production but for photography and
audio as well.


SFETT is a website where you can find these students' work from the
past 8 years. It's a great resource that has examples of documentaries
that range from a variety of topics.