This workshop is geared for the teacher who sees the value of the movie making process, who sees the potential of what it can do to, but is restricted with time. This workshop focuses on quick, "Rachel Rayish" type of techniques and tips that can make ANY classroom into a super cool, fun, meaningful, and applicable learning studio. Movie making provides a structure that makes for today's classroom. The session will cover the basics and the importance of planning, tips for production, examples of how to present and showcase, and finally--ideas on how to assess the product and the process.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

You can check out some reflectors here. If you’re on a budget, a cool little tip is to use wax paper or a white sheet to diffuse the light.
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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

Here are some recommendations.



If you're using iMovie, make sure that you are running iMovie 09.

If you're importing from a tape:

Make sure your camera is connected and is on the VCR mode.
When you launch iMovie, it will automatically recognize your camera.

If you're importing from an SD Card:

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.

Audio Sync

Here is a cool tip on how to record great sound even if you don't have a microphone input in your camera.


Check out these two bsides on teachers. Here’s one from Australia and here’s one from a teacher in New Zealand.


Moviemaking Curriculum: Here is a link to Marco Torres's book he recently wrote for Apple on moviemaking in the classroom.
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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 the students body of work for the past 8 years. It's a great resource that has examples of documentaries ranging from a variety of topics.