There are several things to keep in mind, and several essentials you need to have when producing an outdoor film. These keys to success are:

  1. Knowing your light
  2. Wind Protection
  3. Lens Selection

Know your light. The sun is one of the best, and worst elements to deal with as a photographer or videographer. When shooting in the middle of the day the sun can create your image to look overexposed and cast a hard shadow across your subject. That may be the desired look your going for, but in most cases, it’s not. In order to create even lighting across your subject and not lose important color qualities to overexposure, I highly recommend purchasing an ND filter (if your camera doesn’t already have on built in), a shade, and a bounce. A neutral density (ND) Filter for SLR cameras is basically sunglasses that you screw over your lens. This allows surrounding color to pop, while protecting the processor from the overly lit area. ND Filters can also be built in to your camera, like most HD camcorders have, where you simply just need to switch a button and it’s good to go. You may also want to purchase a shade. These can be bought at a reasonable price and can be placed between your subject and the sun. The shade allows a minimal amount of light to pass through, giving your subject a better quality of light to play with. The last thing you will need in terms of lighting is a bounce. A bounce is a videographer’s best friend, as you can use the bounce to…bounce…light onto your subject. Most people use a bounce when shooting in shaded areas, dusk, and dawn. If you are in the market for a professional grade bounce, I highly recommend adding one to your studio. If not, go get a white poster board from an arts & crafts store and you should be just fine.

The next important thing to consider when filming outside is wind protection for your mic. I always like to use two mics for all of my productions; a lavaliere, and a shotgun attached to a Zoom H6. Having two mics gives you a little bit of leeway for audio spikes and muffled sound from wind. With that said, it is extremely important to always have a wind shield or wind sock on your mic. Wind shields take the initial contact of the breeze, allowing your mic to pick up the best possible quality of outside audio. If you can’t afford a professional wind shield, go to your sock drawer and slap a sock over your shotgun mic. Trust me, it works.

The last thing to consider is lens selections. When shooting outside, there is so much more to see than sitting in a studio. To establish your setting, it is always good to start your sequence with a wide angle “establishing” shot. This lets the viewer see where you are, where your subject is, and allows their imagination to create a better image of the story. Lenses are categorized by their focal point. A lower the focal point, such as 28mm, can help capture a setting and show extreme details of the surrounding area. When getting your close up shots of your subject, a shorter focal length, such as 50mm, can be used. These shorter focal lengths allow you to get a clear focus on your subject and blur out the background, making your subject pop off the screen. This is called depth of field, and can be adjusted with greater detail with shorter focal points.

Each camera and lens is different in different situations. The best practice is to go out and shoot!

Tyler Freeman

Author Tyler Freeman

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