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The 8 Steps to Making Unsung Interview Shoots Work

The 8 Steps to Making Unsung Interview Shoots Work

Shooting for #unsungpgh at Soldiers and SailorsIn the two and a half years of shooting and editing for Unsung: the Non-Profit News Show, this was the longest running show I’ve had that was more of a production than a long form, no-edit, conversation.  Over that time, we really had a chance to perfect things a little bit over the years.

Whenever we go out for a shoot for Unsung, I have a checklist for production:

  • Light: Do I need it?  Every time I don’t use my little light on the camera, I absolutely hate all of the shadows after I capture the footage.
  • Tripod It.  Sometimes we still get events where we have to catch people on the fly, but whenever I can, I want a nice, locked down, shot.  When we’re interviewing, I want a talking head.  We’re not going for the frentic look I get constantly moving like some other projects.
  • Check that focus.  Nothing worse than not checking on it and finding out the subject is fuzzy.  It’s hard to determine on that little LCD when you’re conducting the interview and listening to audio and filming as a 1 man team.  A quick zoom in on the person’s face usually reveals all.
  • Your Name Please? I require, even when it sounds stupid to do with a simple name, that the subject of the interview says and spells their name.  I don’t care if it’s B.O.B.  I may not realize the spelling J.O.N. seems normal to you when I spell your name J.O.H.N. when I get to the graphics.  Yes, even you, Smith…
  • Who are you and What are we doing here?  The starting point.  What is this organization/event.  Let the subject give the elevator pitch.
  • How is it helpful to the community?  Who is it helping?  Why is this important?  Why should a care about what it’s doing?  Give me a reason to worry about it not being around if they don’t get support.
  • Personal Stories.  This is often the hook.  If you can show how this organization, etc has affected real people, or you are interviewing the person affected, it can bring the audience in closer. Maybe even identify with.
  • What can people do to help/get involved?  This is the call to action.  Do you need money?  Do you need toy donations?  Are you just looking for people to follow your Facebook to learn more about he cause?

Unsung may not be a lock for continuing in 2014, but I think we’ve collected a great deal of interviews that I’m in the process of collecting on a new YouTube channel.  Stay tuned for details on how we hope to continue its legacy.

December 13, 20130 commentsRead More
New Ventures

New Ventures

Manning the switcher at RWA in West Newton

I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, and that’s because for a bit of a ramp up that’s been happening the last month.  At the beginning of the year, I had the opprutunitiy to take over video production and DVD distribution from Digital Horizons for local wrestling groups International Wrestling Cartel and Renegade Wrestling Alliance.  I’ve had the fortune to shoot ringside through the prior rigime, and owe a lot of what I’ve grown from working with Tony F and his company.  It’s also great to be working with two organizations that I have some great friends also working for in some capacity. So we recorded shows for both in the last two weeks, and a the growing pains are definitly there.  We’re doing everything we can to get up to the level of quality that Digital Horizons was delivering, and hope to take it a bit further.  But first, we have to get my tech, and Chachi behind camera, up to speed… A few things we’ve learned:

Manage your cables: One of the items of knowledge my new ringside camera protoge had to learn the wrong way was caring for the video cord.  Our first shoot we lost two of them, and no more backups, thanks to this after two matches.  Thankfully, our redundancies worked out.  I let the ringside cam record his stuff untethered the rest of the night, only to take the monotonous task of post editing later.  Ouch.  It was salvageable, but I think we could have the new guy a bit more up to speed if I could watch his shots live the rest of the night.

Prior knowledge helps.  I’ve been developing a system for producing these DVDs as swiftly as I can.  Thankfully, I’ve had some experience at my old employer filling in on vacation days for the front office and duplicating my own music CD back in 2007.  Great start, but higher volume thanks to the groups’ already existing catalogues and audience.

Communication is key:  This has been a pretty steady problem.  We had to get a new set of headsets to try to communicate from my live switching station to the camera men.  The first night, no one could adequately talk to me, mostly  the second, we lost one of the headsets to battery issues.  Thankfully, we realized we just needed some AAA’s to pick it up.  We couldn’t get the cams lined up color wise, but the shots were so much better (that, plus ringside’s time taken to critique his previous week’s work).

Attention to merchandise pays off:  Wife of the Sorg took over the merchandise booth side of our operations.  In the past, it was always sort of a neglected side of the night’s activities.  Someone not associated with the company would man the DVD table, or be unattended as we setup and do our business shooting the show.  Missy offered to take over, and I’ve let her run with it and my thoughts for it.  We started taking credit cards at the show with Square, which meant over 50% of our sales at IWC were via plastic.  How many of those sales would have been non-existant or less due to the lack of access?  We also started taking pre-orders going into the show and for the next show to make sure people got what they were looking for.  We also took orders of that same night’s show, to be sent out later that week as the DVD was completed.  There were few requests, but people were enthusiastic and it should grow as people see we continue doing these plans.  The booth looked tremendous with the last show playing back to get peoples’ attention.  Plus the advantage of putting a vendor of the fairer sex behind a booth at a wrestling show is invaluable.

I’ll miss ringside shooting, but it’s still great to be a part of it, and I truly enjoy switching.  The video guys are getting up to speed, and we can only improve.  Our first month out and our redundancy systems held (3 cameras recording to MiniDV and one record to a MacBook Pro).  If that’s as bad as it gets, it’s only up from here.  And the IWC setup at Court Time is the toughest shooting we will have all year for six total shows. So how did they turn out?  Here are teasers for our first DVD releases of 2012 from Sorgatron Media.


February 2, 20120 commentsRead More
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