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Before the camera operator presses the record button

Video cameras love light and there is only so much you can do later during the post-production editing process. Your best bet is to pay a lot of attention to lighting and sound during the actual taping. The following checklist of equipment assumes that you have a good shot list and that the actors are rehearsed.

Before each and every shot …

___ Is the tape ready at the beginning of enough empty tape? That is, don’t tape over what you’ve already done. This happens when you look at what you taped yesterday and leave the camera stopped mid-way through yesterday’s. Then you tape over it the next day and lose what you did the day before.

___ Is the camera ready? Wide-screen or standard? Auto or P (for exposure and color balance)?

___ Is the set ready? Are all the people and things ready to go?

___ Are the actors miked? Is the boom ready (and out of the frame)?

___ Is the sound working? The best way to ensure that is for your camera operator to be wearing headphones.

___ Is the shot framed? Look through the viewer and keep adjusting until you get it right. If actors move during the shot, how does that affect the framing? Try to avoid camera movement during a shot.

___ Is the shot lit? Make sure there is enough light. Look for hot spots, reflections, shines.

___ Is the shot consistent? That is, given the context for this shot in the finished video, are the lighting (especially tricky outdoors), costumes, hair styles, set, props, etc. consistent? For example, if you’re taping a dicussion in a restaurant, don’t keep moving the flower vase on the table unless we see a character moving it. Otherwise, it appears to be hopping around on its own.

___ Has the camera moved? If so, is the point of view intact? That is, has the line been crossed, which will result in a reverse cut during editing? You want to never cross the line.

___ If you are stopping the tape after every take, remember to leave a 4-second handle at the beginning and end of every take.