Category Archives: Equipment

Filming for a Showreel

Over the last few months I’ve been helping Bristol based naturalist Ed Drewitt put together a showreel for his broadcasting work. The project was briefly mentioned last time and I’m pleased to say its come along leaps and bounds since then.

In order to showcase Ed’s presenting abilities, we immediately decided to shoot brand new footage. This would also be a fantastic exercise in storytelling for myself, as Ed and I conjured up several scripts to film in and around Bristol from which we would then take excerpts for the showreel.

Along the way we brought on board Theo Webb and Claire Thompson. With Theo came a Sony Z7 and an extremely handy radio mic, not to mention a great deal of professional experience. Claire was on hand to assist and take a few stills.

Ed and Theo on the Severn Beach, filming with the z7

Timekeeping was a big issue. In what seemed at times a rather nonchalant manner, we’d set ourselves only one day in which to shoot everything. However, despite our ambitious time-limit, Ed and I had planned extremely carefully. Ready to film at location number one for first good light, we finished precisely when we meant to – maximising all we could of the diminishing daylight hours.

We filmed a sequence on urban peregrines in Bath (right click and view image for a larger version showing a male with pigeon prey)

With the break for Christmas and New Year now complete, I’ll be working on the project further as we record commentary and move onto editing.

o

Editing

The short film I posted about recently (that’s a very relative use of the word) has entered the editing phase. I’ve had plenty of experience watching other people put together various films (and even one landmark BBC series) in programs like Final Cut Pro, but haven’t ever had a go myself.

Jumping in at the very deep end, I first experimented with Avid Express Pro but quickly moved on to Adobe Premier Pro. Having used Photoshop for many years now, I find Premier much more familiar.

The first challenge was simply to digitise the footage I’d shot with Tim. Working with a skeleton version of the original software and wires that came with my handycam (the DCR), digitisation became a massive obstacle. USB streaming is pretty much useless, so I invested in a firewire, instantly solving all problems.

Shiny new firewire

Shiny new firewire: makes digitising a breeze

In other news, the main photograph from the post below appeared on popular gaming blog Kotaku, of which I am a massive fan. To any new visitors, thank you for reading!

The ‘DCR’

As we now know, there are two main themes to this blog; wildlife and filmmaking. Concerning the latter, I have resurrected an old piece of equipment which should be quite useful.

The DCR-TRV22E

The Sony DCR-TRV22E miniDV handycam

It’s the Sony DCR-TRV22E Handycam. Having originally come into service as a family video camera around 2004, the DCR has since fallen into disuse. For my purposes though, it should be perfect.

The main features boasted include a 10x optical zoom and a handy night vision mode.  Settings are fully automated, with some degree of control on exposure (the lens aperture is apparently F1.7). There is manual focus via the touch screen, but it’s not too practical so probably best avoided.

We’ll see how it gets on! I’ll be looking for a cheapish zoom lense for it.