A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Miami to shoot some testimonials for a technical school. It was a good experience. For one thing, I’d never been to Florida before. And I’d never traveled longer than 3 hours for a shoot. And I’d never flown with video equipment. And I spend a majority of my days behind a computer instead of in the field. You might say it was beyond my comfort zone.
Traveling alone with equipment is …interesting. Obviously I couldn’t travel with much (not that I had much to bring in the scheme of most shoots). I ended up with a camera bag (luckily the camera is really small) filled with audio stuff, a bag about the size of a large duffel bag with 2 softboxs and a tripod, my laptop, and my suitcase. The lightkit and suitcase were checked, camera and laptop obviously were not let out of my sight. Lugging all that stuff from the long term parking lot, onto a shuttle, then into the airport was quite a workout. Yikes. The good part was 2 checked bags cost the same amount as upgrading to business class, so I got to experience that for the first time (ps IT WAS AWESOME).
I flew into Fort Lauderdale to meet the rest of the group and headed to our hotel in Miami. The next morning, we went to one school location. The clients were so incredibly nice and well-organized. I’ve never worked with clients that were so friendly and planned things so nicely. I scouted for a location in the vicinity of the school. It was not an ideal location. The school itself was too loud, outside was too windy, and the rest of the area was a strip mall. I settled on an area I was told was pretty quiet most of the day despite being in a public space. It was the best and only option.
Unfortunately, it ended up being the worst possible location to shoot anything. It had buzzing lights overhead, which wasn’t a huge deal and became the least of our worries. Beyond that: kids running by, people in heels, people stopping and talking on their cell phones, construction outside, trash day, a kid on a big wheel (???), an elevator ding..pretty much anything that could make noise, happened.
We moved to a room for the last handful of interviews. It was a conference room about the size of a small closet. I set up on the diagonal in the room to get the most distance, but I still didn’t like the shot. There was nothing I could do about it. But then basically my worst fear happened: my wireless lav stopped working without explanation. I tried everything I could to get it working, but it wouldn’t pop back onto the correct channel. I had to switch to a shotgun. I had experienced issues with this mic one time before and never figured out why ever since through lots of research. I figured it was a one time thing and I’d used it a ton since then so I thought I was safe. Nope, it came back to haunt me. During the most emotional interview, it started to flip out and pop a bunch. Great. It happened a couple more times during periods where I felt I wouldn’t use that sound bite anyway, during questioning or other nonsense. I’m not the biggest fan of field production, and this made me less so….which is why my business card says EDITOR! I felt like I managed the best I could with the equipment and circumstances I had.
That evening, I got to walk in the ocean for the first time.
The next day we went to another campus location and shot in a much bigger conference room. It still wasn’t as nice as the first shot, but it was way better than the closet we were in before. My wireless lav was working again (I had tested it that evening as soon as I got back to the hotel room and it was fine, so WTF?) and things went smoothly. We left after a few hours to go to a luncheon where the school was being honored with an award. I switched to the shotgun for this and wondered if it would work for me (and yes, it did. I have no idea why the popping and buzzing happened!) After shooting the luncheon, we had a couple more interviews to do with people in attendance, so I had to scout another location in this hotel to shoot. There was absolutely no place that was that great to shoot. Everything was either in loud areas from music, or loud areas from people walking. I chose a place with nice natural light at least and minimal music (but high traffic) and shot in between people leaving. It was very sunny outside, so instead of positioning the subject with the actual background from the window behind them which probably would have been blown out I used the outside reflection from the building’s other windows.
We went back to the campus, finished up, packed up, and flew out that evening.
Compared to veteran videographers I don’t have THAT much experience with field production so this was a fairly stressful shoot for me, despite the straightforward subjectmatter. It was a really good experience for me to get plucked out of my safety net and thrown into southern Florida though, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it.