There are 7 steps to create a great video on the Shootsta Kit.
- Step 1: Choose a location
- Step 2: Set up the Shootsta kit
- Step 3: Frame your shot
- Step 4: Set up audio
- Step 5: Focus on your talent
- Step 6: Rehearse
- Step 7: Record
Step 1: Choose a location
Location. Location. Location. It needs to be both practical for filming and beautiful as a background. Here are 4 things to consider before setting up:
- Natural light: Find a naturally well lit environment to film in, either a room with big windows or outdoors. Do the 'spinny-thingy test': Grab your camera , put your hand or your talent in front and spin around to see where the light is at its best. Avoid overhead lights or direct sunlight as it can cast unflattering shadows on your talents face. If you’re shooting outdoors, soft and even natural light, like at dusk or dawn, or when it’s cloudy, works best.
If you need a little extra light to help fill in shadows on your subjects face, grab out the LED light found in the kit.
- Some peace & quiet: Pick a location that is rather calm and quiet. Avoid overly buzzing and humming spaces such as kitchens, busy roads and crowds. Make sure you can hear what your talent is saying, not the noises around you.
- Avoid white walls: They’re just not flattering or engaging. Go for a location with a bit of “depth” and context. Think open spaces.
- Bookings & permits: Make sure to book the room, block out the space or request a council permit in case of a public place. Check out our Do I need a film permit article for more details.
Step 2: Setting up the Shootsta Kit
- Tripod: Hold the tripod with the legs facing up. Open all the latches and give the tripod a good shake whilst aiming the tripod legs to the floor. Lock the latches. Adjust the height of the legs to your object or to the your subjects eye level. Lock the ball head of the tripod. You can loosen or tighten the head by sliding the wheel on the handle backwards or forwards.
- Attach Autocue: Open the latch at the back of the tripod head, place the baseplate (on the bottom) of the autocue inside and close the latch to lock securely. Take your autocue bracket and slide the rails into the bottom of the autocue and tighten each of the wing nuts. Make sure the top of the bracket, with the screw on it, points up towards the sky. You can skip this step if you don’t need an autocue, just unscrew the baseplate on the autocue and attach it to the bottom of the camera. Now mount your camera straight onto your tripod.
- Camera: line up the screw and the screw thread on the bottom of the camera and gently screw it in until it stops moving. Make sure your camera is facing towards the autocue and take off the lens cap.
- Audio: Grab the audio receiver (labeled RX), slide it into the hot shoe at the top of your camera and scroll the wheel down until it locks. Make sure the screen is facing the back of the camera. Take the coiled wire, lift the door on the left side of your camera and slide it into the red jack. Turn on the receiver. Grab the audio transmitter (Labeled TX) and plug in the lav mic. Hold down the power button to turn it both on. Remember to check your battery levels located on the back screen of your audio receiver.
- Set up the autocue: Pull open the front of the autocue. Slide each of the plastic walls open to support the roof and pull the cover over your camera’s lens. Then, slide your iPad into the front unlock it and open the ShootstaCue app. Once open, you can either type scripts into the autocue app or import scripts from the Hub.
Step 3: Frame your shot
- Position talent: Place your subject in front of camera and adjust your tripod so it is at their eye line and the camera is levelled. If your subject is addressing your audience directly (piece-to-camera), position them in the middle of frame their shoulders facing the camera. If you are shooting an interview, have your subject to look “off camera”. Position them left or right of the frame and have them to look and face their shoulders (inwards) at the interviewer next to the camera.
- Frame talent: Get your talent to stand closer or step further back until the bottom of your frame is just above their waist and leave some room above their head (headroom). If you leave too much headroom then you run the risk of making your subject look small and insignificant. Conversely, you don’t want to give them a hair cut by having your shot too low.
- Tidy up: Get rid of distracting items that can catch your viewer’s eye. Look at your camera’s screen and remove anything distracting that you can see. Some common culprits are water bottles, rubbish and clutter, and colleagues that are walking about.
Step 4: Set up audio
Here are 3 steps to mic up your talent and ensure you are recording high quality audio.
- Attach audio receiver: If you haven’t done this already when setting up your kit, slide the audio receiver into the cold shoe and twist to lock it in place. Open the small flap on the left side of your camera and plug in the coiled cable into the red jack. To turn on your receiver, hold the power button down for a few seconds till it lights up.
- Mic up talent: For t-shirts clip the lav mic to their collar. For shirts or jacket, clip the lav mic between their first and second buttons. Make sure that nothing touches the mic such as hair, jewellery, scarfs, etc. Once the lav mic is clipped, have your talent to hide the wire on the inside of their clothing and plug the mic into the audio transmitter (TX). Hold down the power button for a few seconds to turn on.
- Set audio levels: Plug in headphones into the green jack on the left hand side of your camera. Listen carefully, everything you hear through the headphones will be recorded. To set the recording volume on your camera, press the centre button on the D Pad of your camera. Once in the Audio Rec Levels screen, scroll the wheel left or right to set recording levels. Press the centre button again too close. To avoid peaking (where the audio bars hit red on your camera screen and when the sound starts to distort), have your subject talk to you whilst you set the levels. Keep the volume between 50-75% on the audio meter. This will ensure you capture great, clear audio.
STEP 5: FOCUS ON YOUR TALENT
Keeping your subject in focus is crucial for your video:
- Set manual focus: Have a look on the right hand side of your camera’s display screen. There will be either be the symbol AF-C (Autofocus Continuous) or MF (Manual Focus). press the AF/MF button located above the wheel on the back of your camera to set it to MF. Autofocus is a great feature but it can be a little unreliable. With manual focus, once we set the focus it won’t change throughout the video.
- Focus: To make sure your subject is in focus, rotate the focus ring, the small ring at the end of your lens, clockwise or anti clockwise until your subject becomes crystal clear on screen. If you’re struggling to see if your subject is in focus, press the C3 button twice on the back of your camera to zoom in and check. Press this button again to return to your main screen. Remember not to let your subject walk away when you have locked focus or you will have to start the process again. Struggling to see if things are in focus? Your camera has a peaking function which places coloured lines on the edges of everything that is in focus. To enable go to Menu, Cog Icon, Page 2, Peaking Level, and select either Low, Medium or High.
Step 6: Rehearse
Practice makes perfect. Run through your script a few times to get yourself familiar with what you’re about to say. Don’t forget to smile!
Step 7: Record and review
Once your shot is composed, audio is set up, talent is in focus and has rehearsed, then you’re ready to record. Press the little red button on the right hand side of the camera to begin recording and when you’re done press it again to stop.
Review your footage to make sure you have captured it all and well. Grab your iPad and SD card reader and insert the SD card from your camera. You can find your SD card under a little door on the bottom right side of the camera. Once the SD card is inserted, open up photos and press the import tab at the bottom. Here you can double check your focus, lighting, audio and shot composition.