Sunday, 8 August 2010


Today was a really good day for scAIRcrows - things went a bit wrong. I'm really glad that things went wrong though because there's such a thing as too easy and whilst the pre-production so far has been tiring (mentally more than anything else), it's been fairly straight forward.

What was supposed to be a day of testing a bunch of things in the run up to the shoot ended up being spent trying to resolve two things.

The first thing was that I bought a Steadicam style device for one of the cameras (didn't buy two because I wanted to see how I'd get on with one first). The equipment cost £80 (I supplemented this with a further £20 for additional weights) and is supposed to keep the camera still whilst being supported in the hands. No matter what we did, we could not get this thing as steady as it is in the tutorial videos and a good hour or two was spent balancing the weights, counteracting the weight of the camera and we almost got there but not quite - if the thing takes this long to set up, its impractical for the shoot and so is effectively £100 unnecessarily spent.

It gets better.

I'd bought a Rode NTG-2 microphone for this shoot. Despite it being low budget - I want to get the best equipment I can afford and £180 for a microphone seemed like a worthy investment. It was bought on eBay however so I cannot claim I spent £180 on it - it cost me £140 with postage. Still a considerable amount when you're counting every penny.

The question was raised as to how we power this and I then remembered that it has a battery compartment. We went wrong from the very beginning, unscrewing something that didn't need to be unscrewed. There was one screw that was incorrectly threaded and consequently jammed - it took a good 2-3 hours to get this screw out using all sorts of methods. When we did get it out, we realised it was holding together the part of the microphone we weren't supposed to detach - consequently gutting the mic. We put it back together and can happily confirm that we have destroyed it. It picks up about a second or two of sound before cutting out and back in. So £140 thrown away there too.

Which means, today, we wasted about 10 hours of valuable testing time and also managed to establish that a £100 piece of equipment was impractical for the shoot and destroyed a microphone that retails at £180.

And I'm glad it all happened. Mistakes made and things learned - the back up plan for the microphone will probably work better than the microphone would have (though we'll never know!) and the camera stabiliser - well, I could have bought a pair straight up.

I'll keep saying it but scAIRcrows is a learning experience for me and so I welcome mistakes - it's the way that I learn. If everything worked perfectly throughout production, I would obviously feel happy but I wouldn't feel like I'd learnt anything and would lack that extra confidence I'd get from knowing that certain things will happen in certain ways. As long as you take something from it, nothing that can ever happen to you is a bad thing (99% of the time!).

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