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Document Learning at Your School!
Music Production for NON Musicians
FLIP Your Classroom into the BEST production studio
FLIP Your Classroom into the BEST production studio
Two Day Filmmaking
BLC12: Lights, Camera, Learn!
Two Day Filmmaking Workshop
BLC11: Lights, Camera, Learn!
Telling Awesome Stories Through Photography
Film Festival Workshop
BLC10: Lights, Camera, Learn!
Planning Multimedia Projects
Storytelling in 2 days
Global Issues Action Institute
Lights, Camera, Learn!
ACOT 2 Team
Practical Movie Making
Digital Storytelling with Photography
Lessons Learned in Florida
Frida Kahlo High School
global issues action institute wis washington international school poverty education digital divide psa d.c. workshop
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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.
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.
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
Diffusing hard light. Make the light softer.
Use a diffuser when filming in direct sunlight. See what a difference this will make.
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.
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.
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
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
of what this looks like.
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
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
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.
There are 3 kinds of mics.
Handhelds, lavaliers also known as wireless mics, and booms or shotgun mics. Check out
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
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.
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
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
Action Only. Don't be a poser.
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.
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:
: This shot provides context, setting-- where is it happening?
: This shot communicates action-- what is happening?
: This shot gives us the detail and emotions-- what are they thinking, what are they feeling?
Shoot a lot
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
Shoot in a controlled setting.
Pick a quiet location where you have control over the sound and light.
Shoot inside the classroom.
Make sure your microphone is primarily picking up audio from the
person that you are shooting, not the background noise.
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.
Name and save the images
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:
For example "
Here is a
to a book that Marco Torres
recently wrote for Apple on moviemaking in the classroom.
Here is a
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.
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.
help on how to format text
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