Won't someone think of (shooting) the children?
February 14, 2007 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm shooting video at an event attended by grade-school children, and my client (a Chicago museum) wants b-roll of "engaged kids." Advice?

This takes place in an auditorium, though there might be additional pickups throughout the museum.

I'll use a small video camera (Panasonic DVX-100A, tripod and handheld) and perhaps a camera-mounted Paglight.

I'm planning on arriving very early so I can be ready and hopefully in the background before the kids arrive. I'd like to establish some rapport so we're comfortable with each other but will be careful not to interact too much to hopefully reduce mugging for the camera.

No sound is required, so I'm really just looking for visuals.

Any tips or best practices? I did, btw, review this useful thread on shooting photographs of strangers and already know quite a bit about legal issues (releases, etc.)

posted by asuprenant to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am guessing that parents will be signing release forms for the kids unless the event is clearly marked a media event and you are properly Identified.

I suggest you do some group shots around activity tables and with docents, getting shots of kids talking or asking questions to staff are always good as are shots of kids looking at displays. Look for wide eyes.
posted by parmanparman at 2:12 PM on February 14, 2007

Try and sit/stand under/behind something the kids will be looking at such that you can just get shots of their intent faces and reactions to the thing being looked at.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:25 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

i cant tell from the question how much shooting you've done, but here's some advice.

1. the dvx-100 is in my opinion the best, non-hd camera on the market. great choice.
2. make sure you have at least 1 or two extra multi-hour batteries.
3. how are you powering your light? never used a paglight, but whatever youre using (external source or batteries) those things suck power like nothing else, so have reserves. (im going to add here that your best bet is to not use a lighting source in a well-lit area, its totally unnecessary).
4. find out what other kinds of cameras are being used. the dvx has a great enhanced 24p option (the last selection on the wheel dial in the back of the camera) that makes the footage look very film-like, but it may not benefit you to use this if other footage is coming from lesser - more "video" like - cameras. (in other words, you may have to do more in post prod.)
5. a much more sensible approach to release forms is to post multiple waivers in key entrances to your location (well, one per entrance).
6. dont be afraid of closeups, especially with kids! there is a tendency to shy away from strangers, but chances are your closeup b-roll material will be used. use your early time to shoot establishing shots, as well as any exhibits that really stand out. (also the outside of the museum).
7. although not a golden rule, try your best not to zoom in and out constantly, and use long takes.
8. be aware that the dvx-100 has one weakness; it doesnt shoot particularly well in dark light. figure out what your best shutter speed settings are, and play with the f-stop dial while your shooting. keep in mind the dvx-100 doesnt allow you to change shutter speeds while you're actually recording. along this line, make sure your white balance is on point. use your pre-shooting time to figure this out; i think there is a button in the bottom front that allows you to correct the balance to suit your needs.
posted by phaedon at 2:35 PM on February 14, 2007

Right on. These practical and technical tips are useful.

I have done a lot of production - my day job is a freelance media producer. I guess the core of my question is, really, how to interact with the kids - how to get close, good shots, without them getting nervous or otherwise.

As far as being properly identified, parmanparman, what is the protocol for this? I have been told that the event will be posted as a media event.
posted by asuprenant at 2:59 PM on February 14, 2007

1. "Hey kid, look surprised."
2. "Hey kid, point at me."
3. "Hey kid, point over there and open your mouth."
4. "Hey kids, who likes Spongebob?"

Unless you feature distinguishable individual speaking parts (closeup of kid asking question with audio, as suggested above), you almost certainly do not need release forms for crowd shots. If concerned, edit any single 'feature person' shot to under a second or two. Also, this may not be your problem.
posted by rokusan at 3:56 PM on February 14, 2007

5. "Hey look. Something shiny!" (works with stealing french fries, as well)

I won't be editing, but I like keep things as legally sound as possible. For this shoot, though, I'm essentially a hired gun.
posted by asuprenant at 4:47 PM on February 14, 2007

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