I recently shot my own band for the first time taking on various roles myself. Through the process I learned a great many crucial lessons, which I thought might make helpful reading for anyone thinking of going down the same path. All my life I’ve been on the band’s side of the camera lens, in TV and film studios and on stages around the world. Having previously shot another of my bands with a Director Of Photography (DP), I felt that I’d managed to get a little bit inside his head and gained a perspective from that side of the lens. This is the story of that process.
I bought a brand new Canon DSLR camera because, after doing quite a bit of research, it seemed the best way to get great picture quality within a relatively small budget. One mistake I made was to start shooting before I knew the camera, which meant there were basic problems such as auto-focus, making the main subject go out of focus all the time. By the second shoot we were getting better results, as I’d found the settings to stop this happening. A few online tutorials advise to switch ALL automatic functions off on the DSLR before shooting video footage and I found this to be very helpful advice.
In terms of light, I’ve never previously understood the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and all that’s entailed with light aspects of camera work, so this put me at a huge disadvantage when going into a live filming scenario. I’m now embarked on a journey to better understand these aspects in much better detail and highly recommend getting this down before committing to a band shoot. This in conjunction with getting a proper working knowledge of lighting your space is one of the most important elements of shooting a video.
Another aspect that developed as we got to know our camera was the use of lenses. I bought an F1 portrait lens at the same time as the camera, as I’d seen the kind of shots possible with this and wanted to get that effect. As things progressed, we added a wide angle lens and a couple of bigger lenses (75 – 200 and a 75 – 300) capable of a greater zooming capacity and they had a depth of field that made band stills and video shoots look really professional. If you’re unable to afford these, it might be worth asking around friends and family to see if anyone has lenses compatible with your camera, otherwise, there are some suppliers to the film industry who rent out lenses.
Of course with great big heavy lenses comes the problem of supporting them. The cheap tripod that we bought with the original camera could no longer support it with the huge lenses fitted, so a more heavy duty tripod was required. We bought a monopod too, which is intended for fast camera work when there no time or space to use a conventional tripod, but after a while realised that this is more appropriate for taking stills and requires considerable skill and experience to use effectively in a video-shooting scenario.