Hitting the record button can be nerve-wracking. It's the culmination of the entire pre-production phase of shooting your film, and by all accounts it should be a cathartic experience knowing that your vision is being translated into a tangible image. However, there are a few basic (and easily avoidable) missteps that can ruin your shoot and your final image. The folks over at Videomaker have compiled a list of 7 things that you should always do and/or check before hitting record. Check it out:
Here are a few of my favorite tips from the Videomaker post:
1. Test Your Gear: Just because your tools worked last time doesn't guarantee it will work this time, so always take time to pull out all of your gear and put it through its paces a day or two before your shoot. Do it every time with every piece of equipment: camera, lights, mics, monitors... all of it. It's important to test your gear in advance of the shoot so you have time to make repairs or find replacements in case you do discover any defects.
3. Prep Your Media: Depending on the type of camera you shoot with, prepping your media may mean buying tape or clearing off your digital media cards or hard drives to make sure you have room to record. Allow adequate time for this task, just in case you need time to transfer media off the cards before swiping them clean.
6. Clean Your Lens: Once you're on set, your prep work isn't done. There are a couple important things to do before you roll. One of the simplest is to clean your lens with a lens tissue. I have two tips for you here: 1 - always clean the lens before you shoot. Always. I can't tell you how many times I have seen beautiful footage corrupted by dusty, streaky, dirty lenses. Always wipe your lens. 2 - Your lens is very sensitive to abrasives, so only clean it with a genuine lens cloth designed for cleaning camera lenses. Don't use a facial tissue... or your sleeve.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times one of these three things, or some combination thereof, has bitten me in the ass during a shoot. I've brought gear to sets only to find out that it wasn't working. I've had improperly formatted cards and cards with old data that hadn't ever been transferred hold up the production process. And I've had dusty and smudged lenses ruin some pretty spectacular shots.
While it's fairly easy to make and follow checklists to avoid these types of rudimentary problems, the best possible thing that you can do is to make an in-depth pre-recording routine and then force it to become habitual. That way, no matter how frantic or hurried your production might be, you will never (or just very rarely) fall victim to these common plights of the modern filmmaker.
You can check out the rest of Videomaker's tips here.
What do you guys think? What is your process as you get ready to hit record? How do you avoid these common pitfalls? Let us know in the comments!