February 3, 2016

Wait! Did You Check These 5 Things Before You Started Recording?

You're there. You're on set. You're ready to hit record, but -- wait.

Are you really sure you're ready? There are a lot of things to prepare for before you actually start recording footage that will ultimately end up in your film, but in this helpful video, Director/Cinematographer Morgan Cooper whittles the list down a little bit to just 5 easy-to-remember things that all filmmakers should do before they press that red button.

In case you couldn't watch the video, here are the 5 things Cooper says you should always check before you hit record:

Check your F.E.W.

F.E.W. stands for:

  • Frame Rate
  • Exposure
  • White Balance

This is the most basic check that all filmmakers should be doing before they start shooting. For some of you, your frame rate won't change as often as your exposure and white balance settings, but checking all three is still important. I can't count how many times I got myself into trouble by not checking these settings -- I learned the hard way that it's pretty difficult to correct shots with a different white balances.

Check your frame edges and backgrounds

It's easy to put all of your focus on the subject you're shooting, but remember, there's an entire frame that's being filled up and you need to know what it's being filled up with. Do this by checking the edges of your frame, as well as the background, to make sure that there aren't any -- I don't know -- antlers above your subject's head or dog taking a dump behind them or something.

Oh deer, you should've checked the background of your photo! (Technically, this framing was done on purpose by the photographer without the subjects knowing.)Credit: Reddit

Check your batteries

Oh lord -- don't be the one who shows up on set with a bunch of dead batteries. Please. (Has anyone else gotten the cold sweats after watching your camera die during a really, really well-performed scene?) If you make sure that all of your batteries are nice and full the night before your shoot, you won't slow things down that next morning.

Format your media

Similar to checking your batteries, making sure your media cards are empty (or at least have enough space for what you're doing) will keep things going smoothly on-set. It's annoying for you and everyone else on set who has to wait for you to clear and format your cards.

Clean your lenses

Make sure that all of your glass is clean and ready to go when it comes time to shoot, because if you don't, you'll have to slow production down to do it. Also, you might not even notice that little, greasy smudge until you're checking out your dailies. (Which means reshoot -- which is just awful.)      

Your Comment

21 Comments

Well, one of the most important is missed in the list….
CHECK YOUR FOCUS!!!
if you miss that, it's all gone... ;)

February 3, 2016 at 10:42PM

3
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Totally - Focus should always be the last thing to check before pushing record... always! (learned the hard way =))

February 4, 2016 at 9:24AM

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Don't forget Resolution / Framerates! There's nothing worse (especially with DSLR) than discovering you've unintentionally recorded your entire interview in 720p 60p.

February 4, 2016 at 12:19AM

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Christian Jeffries
DOP, Editor, Colorist
4

Make sure you have a camera.

February 4, 2016 at 1:01AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1040

Make sure you (or the cameraoperator) have/has actually pressed the record button and there is a red dot on screen! :) A good way is to always make it audible that you're recording, 'Recording!' helps everyone on set.

February 4, 2016 at 2:56AM

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Make sure you are loaded on ganja like this guy :)

February 4, 2016 at 4:10AM, Edited February 4, 4:10AM

1
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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1117

SATIVA NOT INDICA. INDICA STRAINS WILL PUT YOUR CREW TO SLEEP. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

February 4, 2016 at 5:52PM, Edited February 4, 5:53PM

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Filmmaker Dude
Film stuff
43

Basics.
If you need reminding you're in the wrong game.

February 4, 2016 at 5:04AM

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Stelrad Two Machine Doulton
Editor by choice, film maker by necessity.
138

Basics.
If you need reminding, you're a beginner, but on your way to making it in the game.

February 4, 2016 at 2:55PM

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Alexandra
Videographer / Documentary Filmmaker
133

No he was born a professional.
Also his description "Editor by choice, film maker by necessity." makes me thing he might be in the wrong game.

February 5, 2016 at 8:10AM

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And if you're using a C100...check that shutter speed. It changes when shifting frame rates.

February 4, 2016 at 7:28AM

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Most cine cameras do this, including the GH4 when the SS/Gain Operation set to "Angle/ISO", where you set the "angle" of the shutter instead of the actual shutter speed.

Standard angle is normally 180 degrees which is 1/(2 x frame-rate), so the actual shutter speed for 24 fps = 1/48th second, 30 fps = 1/60th second, 60 fps = 1/120th second, etc...

February 4, 2016 at 1:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
29414

And don't forget to change your file naming if your camera allows for custom clip naming. Something which is overlooked often too.

February 4, 2016 at 7:46AM

1
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Serhan Meewisse
Filmmaker
160

I'll add RSP, no, no, not Retirement Savings Plans.
1) Relax
2) Smile
3) Positivism
then go on with "FEW" and the rest.

February 4, 2016 at 9:01AM, Edited February 4, 9:01AM

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Danny T
Photographer
337

Heck yes!!!!!!!! Great note, Danny

February 4, 2016 at 11:40AM

1
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Morgan Cooper
Cinematographer
21

LOL, camera tech.

February 4, 2016 at 5:53PM

0
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Filmmaker Dude
Film stuff
43

Lol what? That's actually my everyday job.

February 4, 2016 at 7:52PM, Edited February 4, 7:55PM

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Danny T
Photographer
337

Truer words have never been spoken.

But I have another important one left off this list.

Checking that ole sensor of yours for dust!
Get some sensor swabs and solution.

No one wants that speck of dirt in their shot!

February 4, 2016 at 9:48AM, Edited February 4, 9:50AM

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Nick Capezzera
DP & Editor
120

Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to watch! Of course, we all know there are 50,000 different things to check before you start rolling, but these 5 simple things become overlooked BECAUSE they are simple, especially w/ beginners. I really hope this video helps someone!

February 4, 2016 at 11:38AM

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Morgan Cooper
Cinematographer
21

So when I learnt the anagram was SWEF
Sound (levels)
White Balance
Exposure
Focus
Which I reckon is a pretty useful way to start

February 4, 2016 at 12:50PM

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Julian Arriens
Editor
84

Lots of good suggestions here. Those of you who scoff at Morgan's basic list have apparently never worked with a producer who didn't plan well and there isn't as much time to set up as you'd like and a crazy director who rushes everything, treats the crew badly and does way too many takes because he doesn't know what he's doing. I've been in this business over 40 years and honestly, I've missed one important thing on occasion that made working with the video much more difficult later and the reason was always a producer/directors like I mentioned who got me and everyone else on the crew so flustered that mistakes were made. So, now I have a small (2" x 3") check list I keep with my camera. I give it a quick review every time before we roll, even when the crazy director is yelling at me to "get going". Since I've been doing this, I haven' missed a thing. I'm much more relaxed on shoots which gives me the time to contemplate how I will kill the director...poison, "accidental" electrocution, crushed by a falling 12K HMI...???

February 4, 2016 at 4:35PM

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Dave Stanton
DP
28

Excellent point. I also made a laminated cheat sheet of camera setting controls so I can easily make adjustments. It's great for settings that aren't used frequently.

February 5, 2016 at 12:33AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
181