Day One of Multi Camera OB Operation
On the first day of our multi camera practice I arrived a few minutes late so I missed my job role and instead I was assisting Daniel as floor manager, which essentially made me a runner. Although on a real shoot this meant fetching people brews and sending messages to other members of the crew, because we’re all students and we’re still learning I was able to help others set up their equipment, such as, cameras, sound, talkback and the vision/audio mixer. It took us around an hour and forty-five minutes to set up all the equipment. In my opinion this was too long considering that we had already practiced setting up a few times already.
This also meant that for the second act of the day I would be floor manager because there aren’t enough roles for every student, so everyone that assisted someone for the first act would take over that persons job role for the second act. While the first act was performing I stood behind Daniel and watched carefully to see what was going on and what kind of problems he had.
After the first act had finished, the second one had arrived and it was my turn to take over the role as floor manager. The first thing I did was I spoke to the act and asked him if he felt ok and if he needed anything. Then I spoke to the director (Ashley) to make sure he was happy and if he needed anything. He decided that everything was ok and didn’t want to change the cameras or anything else either. He was however a little unhappy about the plug sockets behind the artist but that was something that wasn’t in our control so we had to record with the plug sockets viewable.
Before we started filming we had an issue with the talkback system, which we also had in the morning, it was my job to get the sound operator (Fred) to fix this problem. It was our first day of filming so we couldn’t expect the sound operator, or any student to amend this issue, so we left it to Colin and Peter (staff members) to solve our problem. After the talkback was fixed I tried my best to get the crew back into the mood for filming because we had just come back from break and we had to wait longer for the talkback system to be set up. As a floor manager you must speak with authority to get things done quickly and at the same time you also need to give directions in detail so that who ever you speak to understands what you are saying.
Overall I was very happy with my performance as floor manager bearing in mind that it was my first time, Although at times I think I could have sped things up a little as it seemed that on occasions nothing practical was being done and I think I was to blame for that.
We had already decided the week before on which job roles we were all going to be given so when we came in this week we had already started setting up our own equipment and also helped others with their equipment. Although this time one performer would do two acts so that everyone gets to do two jobs and not be an assistant first. My first job was to be a camera assistant for camera two and then I would take over the job for the second act. Camera two was on a dolly so it needed an assistant to handle the cables and make sure that the shots looked smooth and also as a safety measure for the camera operator.
A major problem we had while setting up cameras was that we had two different types of lighting. We had light from outside coming in and also we had studio lights, which were being used. This made our jobs very difficult when it came to having the same type of colour in each image because depending on what angle the camera is set resulted in different amounts of light coming in from outside. This resulted in each camera being set at different aperture levels but it still didn’t help us.
Before we started filming we had a problem with the talkback again with a camera operator not being able to speak to director, although I didn’t think it was a big problem because I don’t think he needed to. The director tells the camera operator if he is live or not and when the camera operator wants to offer the director a different shot he will wait for when he isn’t live and then offer the shot. If the director agrees he will cut to that shot and if he isn’t then he will ask the camera operator to offer a different shot.
For the performers second act I took up my job as camera operator and I received some good advice from Peter on how to use the dolly. When I’m not live then I should position the dolly wheels in the direction of which the camera will be moving to ensure that the shots I provide are smooth and there isn’t weird wobbling motion at the beginning of each shot. I would say that I had a few problems while operating camera two. My biggest issue was moving the dolly while keeping the camera stationed on the act. I found that when I was moving the dolly I wasn’t turning the camera, which led to the act almost disappearing from the shot. Apart from that I think I did well with the overall performance as I did what the director (Danny) asked for as well as offering some shots of my own but I will need more practice using the dolly.
When the second performer arrived we all swapped roles again and this time I would start as an assistant director, which in essence is the floor manager, so instead, I helped out other people with their job roles if they needed me. When it came to the performance I stayed in the gallery and watched over the director (Joe). I think I learn best by doing things but I think it helps to watch what others are doing and try to learn from their mistakes as well as pick up on the things they do correctly.
When it came to me being the director the first thing I did was speak to the camera operators (Andrew G, Danny and Andrew T). I explained what I wanted from them and for them to listen when I was telling them who was live, so when they weren’t it would give them a chance to offer me other shots. Watching the other director I did learn some stuff but when you’re in that role its very different and I, on a couple of occasions forgot to tell the camera operators that they were live. I think the reason I did those things is because there were just too many screens to look at which confused me but I believe I will get better with practice. I spoke clearly and direct instructions to everyone so it helped move along the process smoothly.
When we arrived in the morning the equipment in the gallery was already set up so we didn’t have to do anything in there and just focused on the cameras, tripods and microphones. We set up within an hour and were ready to start filming the first performer. Again this week there would be two acts and both acts would perform twice to give everyone a chance to take on a job role. My first job role was sound mixer so I set up the boom microphones, one on each side of the performer but not in-sight of the cameras. We didn’t face many problems on set up today and everything ran smoothly and began shooting in the morning.
Sound mixing for me isn’t the most difficult job although it can get very confusing with all the different buttons and switches on there. To make it an easy task you can use the master faders, but that wouldn’t work in interviews because some people are louder than others and it would make the job very difficult. I instead opted to use the two separate levellers to try and make the sound as equal as possible. To ensure I got the best sound possible I found out where the artist was standing, I put the microphones parallel to him and pointed both microphones towards him as well. During the performance I had to make sure that the sound did not peak into the red zone because then it would cause the sound to distort. Also I had to keep an ear out for any swearing because if someone swears I have to inform the person in charge of the online stream so they could either mute or end the live stream as there was a delay in the live performance and stream.
For the next two performances I had no job role so I helped out with anyone having trouble setting up and helped with health and safety issues such as wires/cables across the floor which had to be dealt with by putting mats over the cables or taping them to the floor. I had to wait until the final performance before I could get another job role.
For the last act I was on camera one and this was not going to be on a dolly which was disappointing because I think I could do with more practice on there. This did however mean that I wasn’t the safety shot and I had the option to offer more creative shots such as the performers instrument or close ups of their face etc. Before recording I had to check the white balance, aperture, manual focus and gain. Everything on the camera must be set to manual and if need be I could use peaking to make assist me with my focus and a frame to ensure that I was 4:3 safe. I enjoy working on the camera because I think from all the roles apart from the director it gives me more freedom to be creative.
I would say I enjoyed every job role and I had at least one issue with every job but if I was to pick a favourite it would be floor manager because I believe the floor manager is the key link in a production team. If the floor manager is having a bad day it affects everyone, as it is his/her responsibility to make sure everyone, including the performers is happy. The floor manager is the link between the director and the rest of the production team. I believe I would need more practice as a camera operator because that is a role I find enjoyable and would like to improve on so I can be a valuable team member. Also it would give me the opportunity to be more creative.
Being a director I think is the most stressful job as sometimes your directions can be misinterpreted and you find yourself having to stand in front of someone and physically explaining what you mean. That is probably why it is the most rewarding role because the director must interpret what he sees and hears and then project that onto screen in a fashion that would captivate an audience. I would say that sound on this occasion was a relatively easy job but it is very important and without it, there would be no use of a music video. I think sound would be very challenging on a higher scale such as, X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent documentaries etc.