Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sunday's Filming @Plumstead Common

Sunday was exhausting! We arrived at Plumstead Common at about 10:30am and met with Owen at the rugby club pavilion  where we got some general taping (scenery, location) done. Transportation was taken care of by Lauren "wheels" Carnall who drove myself and the gear down, along with Dee and our dog, Louie, who bounded around the common like a mad thing while I discussed events with Owen. Here's how it all went:

The Tug Of War

Shortly after we arrived two fire engines (sorry, fire appliances) from Plumstead Fire Station pulled in, the occupants forming one of the main tug-of-war teams, facing off against members of the Greenwich Rugby Club. The rope was laid out, the markers were set, and several rounds of ferocious tugging were underway! Lauren "wheels" Carnall took a camcorder and I took the Canon XL1S and we filmed every round, while poor Dee had to do her best to relax Louie who was sent into a barking frenzy whenever columns of beefy men started roaring and pulling. As the afternoon chill began to set in, the firefighters reigned supreme and took a trophy home for their efforts and thanks to Owen's excellent supervisory skills no-one lost an arm.

The champions in action: photo by Sarah Harper

The 3-Sided Football

With the tug of war settled the hexagonal pitch beckoned. Dee and Louie made their way to the train station for home (I'm a sap but I missed her immediately) and Lauren and I set up our cameras on tripods to film several rounds of 3-sided football. There were 5 teams, each wearing a different colour which made things much easier to follow. The teams would rotate after every ten minutes so that everyone had an even number of games. The pitch was set up with proper goals rather than cones and the games flowed beautifully. In between rotations I was able to do a few small interviews with some of the players that I hope I will be able to incorporate into the final video. Filming a football game from the sidelines is hard, any zooming in you do invariably ends up with you losing the ball in your viewfinder and anything zoomed too far out looks a little poor. Sadly this means the best footage is not usually the bits displaying the most skilled players, but rather the moments when the drama of the game coincided with moments when the camera was pointing the right way and wasn't shaking around.
By switching the f-number with the frame speed I was able to jump between differing depths of field, a deep DOF to capture everything smoothly and a shallower DOF to get better looking shots (at the risk of losing focus) but the change would take a few seconds during which nothing usable is being recorded. I did get better at adapting my settings on the fly and by the last rotation I was getting much better footage than the first. With Lauren filming on the camcorder as backup I should hopefully have more than enough coverage of the game.

Coming Home

Shit got real when I got home. Our persistent little computer errors over the past week have been identified as a failing hard-drive. I somehow doubt that I will have any joy uploading the five hours of footage I captured on Sunday.

Five hours is an excessive amount of footage for two short videos, even though it is across two cameras. The mistake was mine as I made assumptions about everything. Having never witnessed a tug of war, and knowing that there were two main teams, I had assumed it would have been all over in one tug (like so many things in life). I soon learned that there would be several runs with varying team members so I recorded everything for the sake of coverage only to find that by the end I had recorded a shedload of footage (of both the tug of war and the football) and I should have been a lot more selective. By recording too much footage I have made the task of sifting through it all more difficult than it needs to be. I have my notes to guide me, but they are largely hasty and non-specific owing to the bustling nature of the day and the fact that the two camera operators were on opposite sides of a football field.

It would have been good to get started on the footage capture straight away, while my memory is still fresh, but the hard drive failure is setting me back.

Lessons learned? Always make time for note making and write them obsessively. Find out exactly how everything is going to play out so you can record appropriately.

The footage should be pretty good so I look forward to getting it together. I'll put up some stills once the editing begins and put the videos up once they are done!

Thanks for reading!

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