My father, my brother and I recently took a trip together to the South Tyrol region of northern Italy to a relaxing valley in the mountains of the lower Italian Alps. While there, I filmed a series of interviews with my father to ask him some questions looking back upon his life.
I have no plan to create anything commercial with the video recordings, but I did do some editing on the footage and added a cinematic intro with some music to make it appear as if I made a feature film entitled “82 SCAPES”.
Although the content of the film itself I created has a lot of serious moments, I decided to also make a somewhat humorous and light-hearted movie trailer for public viewing. I used a bit of the actual interview footage for this and you can see the 2 minute movie trailer I created with the intro linked below:
But in this blog post I am going to mainly talk about some of the technical considerations and decisions I made while filming and editing the video footage which hopefully are of interest to other aspiring film makers.
One of the main things I did was to shoot the video footage using two different camera angles synchronically so that I could later blend portions of the footage from the two cameras together to create a more interesting visual presentation.
With videos or documentaries that consist purely of interviews, it may feel a bit monotonous for a viewer if the entire film is shot solely from one camera and angle. Thus, I used B-Roll footage that I shot from a second side-angled camera for quick cuts to emphasize moments where my father’s hand gestures became more involved in explaining a topic.
To make things more interesting in terms of the background, I also shot in 4 different outdoor locations (over a period of 3 days), and with 3 different shirt changes to again break up the visual repetitiveness of the film.
Out of all the locations I shot in, I felt that the last setting, where I had my father sitting on a dark, natural-stone staircase worked the best and where both the colors and the background looked the most aesthetically pleasing.
At this last location I set the second camera at a lower elevation than usual, just below his knee level, and with the camera titled upwards so that it would place more emphasis on his hand movements in the foreground.
Below you can see a 1 minute clip of that footage shot at the staircase setting which contains the two camera angles together within the clip:
And here is a 1 minute clip of one of the other settings where I used the second camera to cut to a wider view from the side. This angle also gives the viewer a better feel for the surroundings of the location we were situated in:
The main camera that I shot the color footage on that you see in both of the clips above was taken with a Sony Alpha a6300 mirrorless camera and a Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens. The second camera, which provided the black and white footage cuts was actually captured with the latest Apple 12.9″ iPad Pro tablet computer.
Both the Sony camera and the iPad are capable of capturing video in 4K, and at 30 frames per second, which makes the iPad a great B-Roll camera option for situations like this when you want to travel with a lightweight setup and minimal gear. The iPad also has 256GB of built in flash memory, which makes it perfect for recording large amounts of footage like this on the fly. About 1/2 hour of 4K footage shot with the iPad results in about a 9GB-10GB file. So you can do a lot of 4K video recording with a 256GB iPad Pro until it fills up.
The biggest challenge though in shooting video with two different cameras, and ones that are of a different make and model, is that it will be obvious to the viewer that the two sets of footage weren’t shot with the same camera. Also, the iPad’s built-in camera app does not allow you any control over white balance, picture profile or any other common camera settings. There is also a fixed wide angle lens on the tablet’s camera, so you don’t have any options on focal length either.
As a result of having two very different looking sets of footage to work with – the Sony footage was captured using a flat picture profile and the iPad footage had lots of color and some unwanted tonal shifts from the auto white balance – I decided the best way to meld the two pieces of video together was to use the iPad footage in black and white. This fixed the problem of the two cameras’ colors not matching and gave the second angle in B&W a more classic, almost rustic look to it.
I could have avoided the color variation problems by using a Sony a6000 mirrorless camera that was also with me at the time, but which could only capture video in 1080p. Since I had decided that I wanted to shoot the entire production in 4K, I went for the iPad solution on the second camera.
In the end, I cropped some of the video in post and rendered the whole film at only 1080p anyway, but having the 4K footage from both cameras to work with afforded me the flexibility to crop the framing of the video later however I want to.
And if you are ever in a situation where you only have one video camera with you, but you would like to capture a second camera angle, consider using your smartphone or tablet if it can capture decent video. The extra footage you get from it will probably be useful later as B-Roll content for your cuts and edits.
I hope you enjoyed the movie trailer and the little bit of footage I shared above. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below.