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Shooting Documentary Short Films

Lesson 3 of 16

What's in My Camera Bag?

Griffin Hammond

Shooting Documentary Short Films

Griffin Hammond

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Lesson Info

3. What's in My Camera Bag?

Lesson Info

What's in My Camera Bag?

So you must look at my gear people are smiling before we actually dive in we have a great video behind this incident let's actually look at the gear in action in the field and then whatever is not covered up we'll talk about right here so we're on the floor of the a mac factory and we're looking to do our first interview is a factory though it is really loud in here so we're gonna go over and take a listen take a listen through by microphones and see if we can actually do an interview in this space find out so visually this area is really nice on would represent the story pretty well but there's a lot of background noise so I'm gonna start listening to see what I get is my audio recorder assume h five and that's one of my favorite little things this petko ultra clamp twenty five dollars clamp it sounds expensive, but film stuff is expensive and this is actually a really useful device sometimes I use it to mt cameras, but I always use it to mount my audio recorder onto my tripod just so...

that I don't have stuff hanging all over the place, so I'm plugging in wireless lab mike I also have uh shotgun mike but I'm gonna plug into the audio recorder wireless mic receiver is plugged in through xlr cable on I'm just setting an audio level hoping to get this thing bouncing around negative six decibels? Uh, I'm probably getting a little louder than george, so we need to push it up a little bit. Yeah, things are not well, when it when I talk too loudly, it flashes that's, peking that's bad. We don't want that, so we'll turn it down a little bit, but I'll do an audio check with george when he's miked up and make sure that we're bouncing at a comfortable audio level. I normally like using a shotgun mic for interviews, but I think in this case, we're gonna need love my right on his chest really close to his mouth just to get over all of this noise, let's see, just just so you know, I don't know this might actually not be that bad like, I think it's it's, passable, uh, like acknowledge this noisy environment, I think it's okay, but I think I think definitely rely on the love mike more than a shotgun mic thing we're doing here at the moment I have this microphone plugged in through an xlr toe eighth inch adapter into my camera that's great when I'm running around shooting b roll for I'm doing like a running gun interview in another time or don't want to mess with separate audio system go for the interview or I have a lot of control. I'm going plug it in directly to the audio recorder just to get the best control over the audio that I can try to figure out right now. Where to point the camera, I like death in a shot, so I don't want to, like, put him up against his desk and just see on ly the desk. I'd love to see some distance here, so I'm kind of looking to see what might make for an interesting this might even be kind of cool shooting in town, the lane there? Yeah, I'll pull the camera in here and we'll just take a look at what looks good. It might be nice to put him over here to kind of facing this way because we have all of this the sunlight coming in, which could be helpful. I would like to get us much distance on the factory I'm shooting with a twelve thirty five millimeter lens on my pants line judge for I love this lens. It's, a great documentary focal length twelve is on this camera, told millimeters is just a little bit distorted li wide, almost fish eye, uh, which just makes for some really interesting shots on thirty five is a is a wonderful portrait focus focal length on the change for so I find this zoom ran between twelve and thirty five is just perfect for interviews I don't give me all the shots I need I think I'm gonna have him sit down right about there get some light in from this window will get some depth of the factory to some colorful lit up things already behind him uh we're a little bit crowded in here but I think the soul will make for a good shot so next step is uh bringing some lights where should pretty well lit in here so I'm wondering, you know, this is great fluorescent light behind us I could even put him in that if I want to like a standing interview I think I see what sitting down looks like and if I do that over here I probably will need another light just fill it out so I don't often do three point lighting uh I don't have to travel with lights let times I'm on ly reliant on natural light today I actually have my d I y light with me, but uh I'm going to use this one actually have a second light with me I just don't see myself using that many lights I don't liketo have a look that looks like it's three point lighting that's overly produced, I'd like to make it look like I'm dealing with the natural light and if I need a light just filling a gap so that it's not dark, then that's where I'll pull this in and in this case, I'm going to put it on the other side of the camera from me. If gemma's here I'm the interviewer he's gonna look at me. I'm gonna put the light on this side. That way we get some shadow. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to put the light over the camera, because then everything camera seizes, no shadows, just like a flat look. So putting it a little bit off the side can create some visual interest on the face and create depth. I built this thing because I didn't want to spend a thousand dollars on a fluorescent professional video light. Uh, this cost me eighty six dollars to make built it myself with some dollar store parts. Most of the expense was these bulbs. Cfl's spent fifty bucks on these eight bulbs, but it's great. It puts out the equivalent of eight hundred watts of incandescent bulbs and its power. All the lights are so spread out that it's a really soft flight like I'm not gonna uses a spotlight or something it's kind of just a floodlight to fill in the space, but it looks pretty good, I think, for eighty dollars. I picked these bulbs specifically because they're five thousand kelvin that's the color temperature it's like how? Where they land on the blue to yellow scale five thousand kelvin is pretty similar to sunlight. It's a little bit maur yellow, but it mixes pretty well that's why? I picked um uh, so I think this kind of set up wood should work. Okay, I'm having jim stand in a za model for me. I just want to know if this sitting down shot with that stuff in the background is going to look okay, uh, the only thing I don't like right now is we got this giant white wall over there. Eso half my frame behind jim is white. I could either go this way to eliminate it, but now I'm getting more of the the cabinet in there. I'm wondering if maybe a standing shot over there might be a little better let's say you get oh, yeah, this kind of pretty jim, won't you stand right here? Let's see how this does? Yeah already like this a lot more. I might just have george, stan, because now we're seeing it coming just a few feet this way we're seeing a lot more background it's a lot more visual activity, there's a bunch of light behind him, I could put him in the light let's actually see that real quick? You could go on the other side of these molds, see if we can use the lighting that's already here just come really? But it's kind of weird, but I don't really like those because they're pretty yellow and of course we have these molds in the way, so I think I will probably put him here, not in the light I'll just bring in my own light to brighten it up. So have you standing on one time on duh let's pull this light a little bit closer, teo we'll see what this does for me thought this looks pretty interesting got this like bright yellow coil behind and we got all this like flashing movement. I mean, I like seeing people in the background moving around like this is an active factory there's no reason to hide him in a corner and pretend like he works with no one. I think this could work well, the only thing I'm concerned about is the audio cause we're pointing right at it, but I'm hoping that with love my not on gym, but I'm sure his body that we're on this side of that audio and it'll be close to his mouth, I just need to get to speak up I think so standing interviews, what we're doing get this set up a little higher one of things I have in this tripod that I really like is this center column that has a little has a little ball mount on the top it's great it saves me a lot of time I don't worry about getting the legs all level I could just get the legs to the height I want and then I can just change the level and make sure the cameras level real quick uh there's a kind of expensive was like one hundred dollars for the son of center column but I do enough of this kind of work but I figure it pays for itself it saves me a lot of time in the long run uh just getting it real quick level good to go so this is already a pretty soft light because it's so spread out but I like to throw an umbrella on here too it makes it look more professional than that a d I y lights now you can't even tell that I made it and now I'm bringing out my really nice microphone I have this road and t g three it's ah seven hundred fifty dollar microphone um and it sounds pretty good, but amazingly it doesn't sound three times better than this two hundred fifty dollars road microphone but I figure I might as well try for the best I can when I'm recording with an audio recorder I can use this one. This one doesn't have its own power. It needs phantom power. Where is this microphone? The reason I use it all time is because it has its own power. I can plug it right into the camera and be fine. So it's kind of funny that have this expensive microphone. I barely get to use it. And you might wonder, why am I using this microphone when I'm going to put a wireless slab on him? But my mantra is redundant audio. I might as well get many options that I can for the editor. If something happens on this, maybe this receiver starts going crazy because there's some wireless signals in this room at least maybe we have this for that. Maybe that one moment when it goes bad, we have another piece of audio. Or maybe it turns out the sounds better. I just like having options just to cover my bases as much as possible. So I'm just gonna hold this might, uh, I don't really want to travel with a mic stand, and I'm gonna have him close to the camera, so I'll just kind of do this the whole time. Uh, this is actually my interview set up a lot of the time is not even a wireless mic sometimes I don't have it uh just stick a microphone near someone's face just below the shot. I guess if I had a boom operator I could put him appear but that seems to work ok for me I do need to turn on the fans of power right now on this audio recorder to make this thing work this microphone it just, uh it doesn't have its own power. So unless this recorder gives it some power it's not capturing anything uh, so you just need to make sure you understand what mike you're using. I like the zoom recorders. I had the h for and it's really popular model I upgraded to the h five it's it's a newer model pretty much the same thing but it does a few things better. Uh, it has manual audio dial, which is really nice just works well, uh it also has this little recorder on the front which I don't need it. Attaway I really only use it for xlr inputs. I just use it as a portable field recorder. This is the camera uses the panasonic gh for I love these gh cameras because they're really little they don't have a mirror inside small camera bodies but I think really great results out of him this lens is great twelve thirty five millimetre I just really unhappy with the image on it. It works well for videographers and the change for connection shoot four k er just to not make our editor crazy today, I'm going to shoot in ten, eighty, because I don't think we really need that extra resolution for this project. So right now I have the two xlr inputs on the audio recorder are filled up by the laval ear, mike and the shotgun. Mike, I'm gonna record this separately. It's not even connected to the camera, the camera might as well, because I have this extra microphone record, something off of it. So it's plugged in this audio will probably pretty terrible because it's going to be a few feet away, noisy environment. I probably won't use it, but it'll be helpful for sinking because in my editing software, I can actually just take the audio clip, take the video file, selecting both and say sink, and it will just look at the wave, form on both and match him up. So atleast one have something captured here, so many of these things rely on batteries. I have a great battering here. The batteries for the beach for are just wonderful that will last me all day the wireless mike and this audio recorder both need to double a's and this thing that's the one thing I don't like about this audio recorder, it seems to fly through battery life. I don't want anything to stop. I wanna make sure I have enough room on the sd card while I'm recording. I want to make sure have enough audio. Our battery life on the audio recorder. Uh, it's. Better. Just a hedge against these problems before we get the talent in here. Right in my bag, I have have a little sd card holder, eighteen mini sd cards for today's projects. I got form, or they're all thirty two gigabytes, which is, like two hours each. And now I just need to remember where I put all my batteries. You know that I have a couple extra ones, and here I go. Pro batteries in here. I have camera batteries in here from judge for and I got a couple double ways. While we're at it, I should take a look at the battery life on this. This is doing okay, that's one thing to remember is that the wireless mike has batteries in the mike itself and in the receiver. So two different things to worry about. That's one thing I don't like about lab mike's is more power to deal with. All right, we finally bring georgia, and we finally brought georgia this was like the longest set up because I was talking about it the whole time so normally doesn't take me very long to get the shots set up but once you start talking through your thought process you like well, there is a bunch of considerations for like one shot wants to see that shot let's see here's george and clean it off and republican cavity looks pretty good on its it's I think it looks relatively natural like it doesn't look like we set up a bunch of light hopefully but it kind of looks like oh you're just in like a good nicely lit part of the room uh visually interesting behind him so we'll take a look more at that footage and a little bit but it's actually take a look at the gear so I am a very I call myself a run and gun video guy on time I also call myself a one man band because usually I'm working by myself you know? I set up that shot I'm shooting by myself, but I also like to travel really light uh so that's why I picked the stuff I pick maybe you don't need to travel a lot and you don't need to cram it all into one little tiny bag but pretty much like I have a suitcase over there I have this little backpack and I bring a tripod on the plane I find that you kind of get the tripe tripe out on is like a second thing. They don't really notice and it all fits. I don't to check anything, so I love this bag. This is my low pro it's called the photo hatchback sixteen lf it's sixteen leaders stuff and what I like about it is it's just a little tiny form factor and it has a little camera area on this side so I can fit my g h four right here squeezed in there. This is the primary camera he saw in that video that I use. I can fit an extra lens over here. Actually, it was funny about yesterday shooting this short film is I never changed my lens. I really do like this twelve to thirty five millimetre I shot most of my suraj documentary on this lens on the gh three camera. The judge for hadn't come out yet. Uh, I think for documentary like you don't need to switch out this lens much. It is a thousand dollars switch. When I bought it, I was like, oh, god, this's expensive, but for me, I kind of hit that law of diminishing returns problem where blends I had were pretty good, but I knew that if I'm going to shoot a documentary it might be nice to have a lens that has all the things that I know I want right now, like I want image stabilization because I like to shoot hand how lot, and this lens has image stabilization on it, so it just it looks a little bit better handheld it's par focal, meaning it doesn't change focus when you zoom in and out. So if I'm shooting an interview it's great, because I can zoom in focus, and I know that if I change this zoom and if george doesn't move, then it's going to stay in focus it's also assume range I really like um, but it's costly to get to get all those things it's also f two eight, which is the aperture, is how much it opens up, which is pretty wide resume lens. I've been pretty open for asuman, so it gives me a nice, shallow depth of field that I'm looking for that's why I choose this plans so I often don't need to travel with many other ones, but I keep a this's a thirty five to one hundred millimeter this thing another thousand dollar lens I on ly got this because my work bought this one for me, I wouldn't have bought this on my own, but it is really handy it's, very similar lens to the twelve to thirty five millimeter and it just continues that zoom range thirty five to one hundred what's funny, though, is like cheaper lenses. I used to have this fourteen to one forty millimeter it's a zoom lens gets me more range than both these lenses combined and it's cheaper. The problem is it lets in a little bit less light, so it just it looks a little bit worse in low light. That's why I picked these lenses. I also keep in here. My sd card holder won't have a bunch of these, uh, ready to go. And I also have a little wallet full of nd filters. I didn't really want to buy a filter holder or whatever they are. So just use an old leather wallet and I have a bunch of different lens sizes. I need different size. Andy filters forum. This one goes with this one. I got a giant one for this. Um, this one what these are and defaulters are pretty much just sunglasses for your camera. And we're gonna talk in the next segment about setting up an interview shot and the settings on the camera that I want. But when it comes to, like controlling the depth of field, and the exposure of the shot if I'm shooting outside, I may need this if I want to get the settings where I want him but it's too bright still needed dark in the shot I'll use thes that's why I have these things. They're great for time lapses. You remember from the time lapse segment I had to really open up the exposure open up the shutter speed that lets in a lot more lights. Um if I wanted, it was fortunately too bright in there I could have darkened up the shot with these so these air useful in especially in sunlight and then in the top part of my bag throw everything else like this thing right over the shoulder thing, which is just a bunch of pvc pipe that sticks inside. I'll throw gopro in my in my bag a lot times I have my sony headphones that air useful it's nice having these kind of headphones. I also have some, like just iphone headphones in my bag that I can use those these air good because they drown everything out when I put him on their big cups. Over my years I have my wireless microphone. This is a, uh, sony wireless mike that I use it work, wireless mikes or something I didn't buy for myself because they're kind of pricey I feel like they're all like a little bit bad um but they illustrate a good point they don't like this even this expensive mike I don't even know how much it is it's probably thousand dollars or something for the two of them but even this doesn't sound amazing like the quality isn't as good is like that expensive shotgun mike I have but it's close and close is probably more important than quality any microphone you have even if it's an iphone and I've done this just using the iphone is an audio recorder just get it close to your person and it'll sound better than this thing five feet away you know so ah lot of stuff you could do with cheaper gear you can shoot video on an iphone put it on a tripod it'll look beautiful uh and if you light it well it'll look great you can record the audio on a knife when you could do all that uh here's my audio recorder the zoom h five what you saw in that video I like it I took the little microphone off and found it was a lot lighter without it and it takes up less space in my bag and I never used that thing you could for redundant audio like I was saying I have a microphone plugged in get close and maybe record that one too but I already have two things going in and out one more on the camera that's enough I don't need that extra recorder in fact I don't even know what that microphone is right now I might have left it in petaluma that she will good riddance I don't want it takes up too much space in my bag here's another lens it's another expensive lens that I got it work it is it was a sixteen hundred dollar lens it's a forty two point five millimeter it's a prime lines it doesn't zoom and the reason you would get this because prime lenses generally open up even wider they let in more light than get even shallower depth of field and this one does that it's an f one point to lens but actually I don't find myself using it much I think I'm just I'm a twelve to thirty five millimeter guy I like being ableto get a few different shots from one location you know I like to build a zoom this would be great in a pinch if it's really dark or if I just really want a blurry background I could use it but like I said some of these lenses I bought because I can now when I made sir raja I was using cheaper lenses this was the most expensive one I had I had a prime lens there was a three hundred dollar lens that shot f one eight of his signal ends so I mean you khun you can cobble together the parts that you need for much less money it's just I hit that law of diminishing returns thing it was like hell if I want that prime lens to deal a little bit more light and I'm gonna need to spend spend more money but you really don't have to and here's the uh the lab mike that goes with that transmitter I can also fit a laptop in here fifteen inch macbook or thirteen in check and cram it in here s o I can really get everything pretty much everything I need into this bag on the outside I carry my shock on microphone I'm actually using a road and tg three now which is I think like a two hundred fifty dollar microphone I used to use a thing when I met made suraj I had a one hundred fifty dollars one hundred seventy dollars check on microphone the gm won x by as dan and I actually still using the asda in shock mount because I like it so much it's a little bit smaller form factor than some other ones I'm all about small form factor I uh I was offered at work hey everyone everyone I work with shoots with c one hundred's is big cinema cameras and they're beautiful they shoot great video and they have xlr inputs right on them so you don't need an audio recorder separately but for me it was just like big camera and it won't fit in this bag. I'm gonna need a whole extra suitcase. Just that bag. And I do a lot of press scrums. I'm like with the press, like running after hillary clinton. And, you know, you have to cram into a small space and maybe you gotta hold your camera up and maybe I'm doing this for fifteen minutes, and I'm pulling out the little lcd monitors. I can see. And I can do that with this camera. The c one hundred is three times more heavy than this. I mean, it's, just my arm's getting tired. I'm not that strong. So that's why? I picked the gear that I use and I carry around a little xlr to a thin chapters like a plague us right in the camera. I did do several interviews in the suraj documentary. The important ones I did hear you noticed when I was setting up this interview. I have a lot of control of the situation. I have a tripod is gonna look great on the tripod. It's gonna look great with lighting. I might as well take control of the audio and plug it in right to this in on some shoots when I was, like, running around taste of chicago. For the suraj documentary just talking to strangers I kind of felt like these interviews aren't as important if they sound terrible like I could throw them out and that's fine the main character of a story I better get everything right but for other kinds of diets for other kinds of stories or interviews maybe I just don't need all of that it's too much work s o maybe I'd just run around like this and I could hold the microphone out here and talk to someone so I like to have a few different ways to capture things right into the cameras. Fine now that looks really awkward me trying to hold this little tiny short guy so I do carry around a little bit of ah xlr extension and I find I don't usually need a lot of xlr so again to keep my bag light and small I use a pretty short one here three feet long and then like you saw the video and you have my more expensive road mike, which I should probably sell because I never use it again that law of diminishing returns things like just to get a microphone that sounds like ten percent better in the highs than this one it costs three times more so hey surprise yeah, my little microphone that I, uh the zoom stereo microphone that sits on top that I thought I lost right here and finally really important things in this bag water I know I'm gonna get thirsty got some snack always carry snacks around with me for a little bit of a portable uh power for my my my phone and then I carry on my little batteries in this front pouch I have a carry a few extra batteries for my th three engage four cameras like I said in the video these are full of power they last all day I love I love these batteries more than the previous models the gh to buy panasonic uh wow so many batteries I will be good for days for weeks here the gopro has terrible battery life these little tiny batteries so I gotta carry out a lot of these and buy some extra ones of these for that camera and my tripod uh I like to strike out a lot. This is the man photo remember part of it the o five five x b legs which are think discontinued unfortunately feel like everything that man photos making got like a little bit pricier for the same and bigger too this is the old discontinued seven o one htv head which I really like and I think the newer ones they make it's like the m v h something I don't know what it is it's just like a little bigger and I like to be like talking through the airport just like crab in this little tiny tripod um but really any tripod will do just get your get your camera steady it's gonna look really nice get your phone on a tripod I have a little this is my selfie stick which I'm using a standard now but I like having a tripod mount for my phone because I could use this this is a mobile phone that actually shoots four k this is the lg ford's it's new uh playing around with a little bit as a small censor it doesn't look as nice as my is my dslr but it's okay it shoot it shoot video the law of diminishing returns it gets me most of the way there and if I had my phone on the side I could record audio too but putting this on a tripod is the first step in making an iphone or this phone look great second step is lighting it third step is just getting audio close to your subject all of those things you can shoot a documentary right now with this and if you don't need smooth movements on the tripod get any terrible tripod you want it doesn't matter just locking it down will do so much for you and like I showed you I love this little clam thing my favorite uh twenty five dollars clamp which is great aiken mount something to my shoulder rig if I want to announce something to my to my tripod and lastly just for sanity sake I put a different quick release plate thing on my uh my tribe by this used a smaller slightly smaller quick release play it I put an even bigger one that matches uh the one I have on here this is a giotto's quick release plate and the reason I use this one because it was cheaper than the man photo one uh just trying to be frugal trying to put the cheapest well if I'm going to put one thing across all my stuff what's by the thirty dollars instead of fifty or so that is my gear oh one last thing I should talk about is my my d I y light so I had to ship this here uh which is why I did not travel with this when I when I shot sir raja just because I didn't want to ship it around actually rented a light when I was in los angeles to shoot but I thought for this presentation to be fun to bring this this is what I've been using at home to shoot torch tutorial videos with last three years it's a lot of light you could see I would plug it in but I mean you saw in the video how much work it's doing on it does the job I mean people often ask me they'll see that you will see the tutorial for this thing and let's say well I would never bring that onto a shoot like that doesn't look very professional but you throw the umbrella on it and he doesn't know and when I've done freelance work everyone's well it's a conversation piece I'll someone look at it go home what is that thing I'll go I made it I uh I didn't I wasn't happy with the lights that were available so I just decided to make a custom one and I think it makes me look pretty resourceful usually freelance clients like nice kind knows what he's talking about if you went and built a light uh and I mean I'm not a lighting wizard I'm sure many of you are better at lighting that I am I just know that I need something fill in the gaps and this this does the job for may sow in the audience any questions about what I use great great workshop sofa thank you I just want to say that when you work with the talent on camera do you have a specific way you liketo work with them like do you like to do pre interviews or do you like to just you know, bring him in and just kind of asked the questions as you go yeah so in the next segment we'll talk more in depth about how I talked to to my interview subjects and whether or not I do pre interviews but generally no I don't do I don't like to do pre interviews, I don't want to give them too much information, but I'm also really focused on putting them at ease I mean, that's, my main goal is just I know almost anyone I put in front of camera you got this bright light, you got a camera and a microphone in the face, they're going to be nervous and this is weird and I need to try to get them used to the equipment so I might throw out the first part of interview and it's really just me getting them comfortable, but sometimes you have, like executives, and they're very particular about what you're working with, so you have to give them some pre interviews ahead of time. Some people want to know what you're going to talk about, um and I I lied to them. I mean, I'll tell them enough that they're on board, I don't need to tell them everything about project I'm making. When I was making the suraj documentary, I don't think I told everyone why I was interviewing them, but I'm trying to be honest enough it's like, I know that I'm gonna make you look good when this is over, if I tell you how I'm going to do that, you won't get all of it, so I'm just gonna tell you a small white lie about what I'm doing and you're gonna be really happy with the outcome uh, but I'm not gonna explain every part of this to you. More questions coming on from our online audience, and right now we're going to try to get to some of the tech questions the gear questions so you went through and you showed us all the gear you had your bag, but is there anything special about that particular bag? Mad alice in the chat room was the first one to ask about it what's with the backpack, anything special about that particular backpack, so I like I've had a good experience with low pro bags I had and this is not a big bag this this is like my running gun, I love this bag, but sometimes I go to shoot to camera things or I definitely need, like, all my microphones, like I can't fit everything in this, so I do sometimes use a fast back to fifty it's another low pro bag, I believe it's discontinued I'm sure they have something similar it's a it's, a bigger bulk your bag in fact, we have it, you have a shot of it in my it was one of the bags that I did an over the shoulder stuff with this is it this big black bag? You can't see all of it, but I brought it to south by southwest and I was sitting in a lot of theater seats going man, this is way too big. Next time I go to film festivals I'll get something smaller so I got the photo hatchback and I really like it but it kind of only works with these little tiny gh cameras. I also love that this bag has rane guard attached uh, which is really nice and jim, my content producer on this class who you saw sitting in as an example interview subject during the video uh he gave me this little white balance card, which is fun. We'll talk about white balance and a little bit but, uh, just a point camera this telling what white looks like in particular lighting and so tiny, well, key chain wife sounds thank you, jim. Yeah. Uh, I've been very happy with this bag, especially cause it doesn't look like a camera bag. I like to be unobtrusive that's kind of my thing I like to show up and not be the guy that brings a bunch of lights like I could do all of this more produced, but I do it this way because I want to put people at ease I want to do the suraj documentary they said no at first to me coming to the factory and making a film about their story and I had to convince them like no, no, no I'm not like going to be a big huge crew coming in I'm just one guy we with a tripod in a bag and I'm going to rent a light like that's it I mean, even that's a lot for me I'm just trying to be like the guy that you don't even know is a video guy like I show up to an event and you're like, oh, yeah, we'll let that guy in because he doesn't look like he's terribly terribly obtrusive another another question here you mentioned before about renting high end slow mo camera and we had a number of questions about rentals in general, maybe you could talk a little bit more about when you think it's right to rent things when you think it's better to purchase your own for people who are just getting started? Well, rentals a great way to try something out that you that you haven't used yet like I'm not going to buy that ff seven the slow motion camera I mean really, I was only by I was only getting it for its slow motion ability if I was going to use it for a lot of other projects, but I would consider buying it, but yeah, rentals air can be pretty cheap the light that I rented in los angeles, I only used it for a couple interviews for the suraj documentary was one of those thousand dollar lights that I was trying to build this to replace it was it was a kino flo, which admittedly is a much better life than this but a thousand dollars eighty six dollars a law of diminishing returns it's not that much better than this one, but I knew I I could afford that it was only sixty five dollars for one day I mean, that that's an expense I can afford my in my documentary, we'll talk about the expenses in the fourth segment today. Um yeah, I mean it's cheap to rent stuff I think it was I mean, that that ff seven ten thousand dollar camera it wasn't bad, it was like maybe five hundred nine hundred dollars for the day I can't remember, but yeah, he just got away how long you're gonna be using something? There's a lot of great rental places out there there's there's websites to do it. I've rented lenses to try them out first before I spend a thousand dollars in the lens it's a cost effective way to try things out okay, a couple more coming in again people are voting on these questions a couple of votes on this one do you record stereo or duel mano so on my h five what it does is it records stereo what it does though, is it records thie right xlr to the right channel and it's recording monitor that channel minute records monitor the left channel so in the editing I'm left with a stereo file where everything one mike is on the left one mic is on the right you notice you might notice when you watch behind the scenes videos of me doing interviews I'm often on lee wearing one of the the the cups of my headphones one I want to hear re a life a little bit but also like this might be the one that is the mike that I like the other mike is the one I don't care about I don't want that distracting me it's sometimes give me weird to hear two different bites at the same time it's like an echo because it's only on one here and then in the editing I need to change it to mano to duel mano so that it's center channel not pulling the right that's actually, I think it's something I noticed in a lot of amateur films like really amateur like if you're if you're brand new to this that's a mistake that some people make is like you'll be watching this in a room with speakers like I think all of the interviews coming out of the right speaker right now this is they forgot to switch it back to the center now we had a couple of votes on this question for actually in the interview process the viewer wants to know how would you address moray on someone's shirt during the interview that was posted by cameron? I know sometimes you're out there in the field people are wearing a certain sure I mean something that we think about here you never wantto have busy patterns but when you're out on the field sometimes you can't control that. So any advice, right? Yeah, I picked the shirt today because yes blank good looking good and it doesn't have a pattern when you when you have a tight patterns it could cause problems with with cameras for k is one way to help like this this fork a camera reduces more a little bit because it shoots extra resolution uh but, uh I mean, you just have to you have to tell people in advance to wear the right can shirts created five told me to wear the right kind of share for this presentation and then you can you can eliminate it by a lot times it's the distance you are from it like if I zoom in enough, maybe the pattern gets big enough that it's not gonna have that problem on camera, maybe if I zoom in enough I'm just eliminating how much of the frame has that more a problem uh, tell him to put a jacket on it's. Just a little bit of mori in here. Maybe not so bad. Cool, right? Yeah. Let's, get some questions from the studio. Go ahead. Uh, yeah. So, you know, I know that you used the gh for a lot, but when you're out doing things for bloomberg, are you also shooting a four k? Or ten? Eighty? I shoot in ten. Eighty a lot of the time, just because I don't wanna have to deal with that extra processing power that my computers have tto do, or if someone else is anything, my footage like, I know they may want to edit in ten, eighty, and I don't need to give them all the extra resolution. Uh, and we were still in a world like, I hope, you know, you don't have to buy a four k. Cameras were still in a world where this is probably a ten, eighty monitor right now. Everyone's watching ten, eighty on that's, that's fine for most stuff we do, yeah, I just don't. I don't need it most the time I use it. If I want to punch in and we'll talk about that a little bit later, I could use that extra resolution to zoom in, but I don't need it most times it doesn't look a little bit better even in ten eighty to shoot four k and then change it still actually looks a little bit clear but one of things about this camera is that on the censor the sensor is a little bit bigger than four k for case four thousand pixels wider roughly that uh this pick this sensor is forty six hundred pixels wide so what happens if you shoot ten eighty which is nineteen twenty pixels wide? It uses the entire sensor and then it just drops out a bunch of frames and that's actually what causes more a little bit because now you have these lines on your sensor that match up with lines shirt because that problem uh which is why when I shoot for kate's a bit better but when I shoot for k panasonic made a start choice they said you know it wouldn't make a lot of sense to shoot forty six hundred pixels and then drop out some of them let's just use the middle of the sensor uh, which I think is why on your iphone when you shoot video it's a little bit tighter than the photo's photos are a bit wider which always drove me crazy I want I want that wide angle I like white angle but it's because it's using less of the pixels on the sensor so in this case when I shoot for k, it tightens up the crop factor a little bit that's something I have to keep in mind that this beautiful twelve millimeter lens that I love, that wide angle looks so much I'm going to lose a little bit of that shooting for case actually opt for ten. Eighty a lot just to get the picture I want here. Alright, got, uh, yeah. Would you recommend having a backup camera? Because I know I had the privilege of shooting cem stuff for tutorial. You did where you were comparing two different cameras. And one of you. I think it was the j h three, right? You were comparing it to the judge for the gh three. Just stopped right in the middle of filming. Was this that desert shot? We did. We were in one of the casinos and the status, and we don't know why your camera was doing it. It just turned off. It went away. So, would you recommend a backup camera? Uh, at all times? Kind of? Not at all times, because I feel like I mean, it really depends on the project, right? Like, there are projects where if your camera completely fails in the field, like, well, we'll shoot it again tomorrow, or we'll shoot next week, if I get it repaired there are some projects that is like so important that you need a backup camera it was helpful yesterday this one mcgee it's three for some reason stopped recording correctly it might have an sd card area it told me after I shut a lot time lapse stuff I tried shooting some video with it and it kept saying I can't write this to the car the cards too slow or something which is weird because it's not but it was having an error yesterday so it was good that I had uh a backup camera but actually I don't often travel with with two because it takes a lot of extra space I guess I've learned to trust my gear and maybe I'm screwed if something happens that's just the reality of video production I think but uh I pick my gear because it's worked for me for so long that I trusted and that's like getting a lot of questions like what camera should use and really I feel like we're in a world now where almost any camera you pick you'll be fine with guys like take the one you have already or by the cannon t three iet's popular model uh if if you I really want my suggestion of course I'm gonna recommend the stuff that I use people always like so would you recommend the jews for what do you think about this? Other cameras like this is the one I use I probably I'm really happy with this if you really want my recommendation one more from the studio, anybody else have a question? Do you ever do a two shot interview or do you typically just stay with the one I like one and a lot of people I work with? If I come on like a freelance, they're always like, I'm gonna have to like let's get that secondary angle like and we're going to talk about setting up an interview in the next segment and how I feel like they're there many rules that you should follow and of course all these rules khun b broken s oh yeah, you can you can do another angle. I'm just I'm not that creative and I find that I like the uh I like this shot and I know that during the shoot I khun zoom in and out and get a few different versions of the same thing, and I know that I'm going not going to spend a lot time on talking heads I'm gonna cut away to be role, and I'm just not that concerned about having a secondary camera now if I'm shooting an interview like where now that I'm in news a lot times the person who's doing the interviewing is pretty important to like when I shoot stuff it's like I'm a invisible person? I just really want you your voice, but when I'm working with an anchor and important host talking an important celebrity, I probably do want both and then I then I'm shooting too across from each other, and a lot times I'll do it behind the shoal, like over the shoulder kind of shots. We see a little bit of thie celebrity as we're seeing the host, but I try to keep this a simple as possible. I mean, that's, I hope it proves you the you don't need a lot of stuff to tell great stories, but also it's just it's like for my own sanity, I don't want to have to check a bag at the airport every time like I probably should bring two cameras. I I don't know, I just try to keep it simple. We've got a couple more online questions here before we wrap up this segment. First one comes from stephen caserta, and we have five people voting on this, and stephen wants to know what f stop did you shoot the interview in uh, two eight I believe I usually amusing the maximum openness of the aperture. I mean, that's what this lens goes two lenses, if you're not familiar, are usually called the y just opened, they go, so this is a twelve to thirty five millimeter f two eight lens because it opens all the way up to half to eight uh, which is double the light of f for writing and which is double the light, which is f or is double the light of the five six the bigger the number, the less like you're letting in this one? I went all the way wide open, some lenses look a little bit better when they're not all the way wide open, like they may be a little bit sharper, but I think this lens is pretty sharp all the way through. I like it, and I wanted that that blurriness in the background that's what I chose, I also like blooding in a lot of light because it means that I don't need to rely on this as much. I can rely more on natural light. I do most of my interviews next to a window with nothing because I'm not traveling with us all the time. That's why I opted for a thousand dollar lines because I needed a little bit more light. All right, we'll do one more question here, and we had three votes on this originally posted by a sickle ski and says that the interview shot, I presume that you use manual focus, right, yet you use no focus, rig any tips on better focus and we're going to talk in depth about exposure and focus on white, bouncing all that in the next in the next segment, but I will say, I do get this question a lot about, like, how do I manage my focus? Like, I know that you say to use manual focus, but like I'm worried about it, like not being in focus, I used the auto focus, but not continuous on this camera, it's pushed to focus. I'll look at the person, push it see that focuses, and I trust this camera used to enough that I know it's good, but I also know that it's not going to change until I pushed that button again, so as long as the person doesn't move, we're good. I mean, I recommend as much control and that's. One thing I want to talk about in this segment before we g o is if you're shooting on an iphone, which you can, you just need to take control of it. An iphone out of the box using the regular camera app wants to do all these things for you. It wants to use auto focus and wants to auto, white balance and auto exposure. There are aps the like filmic pro is an app that you can download on your iphone to take control of it this lg they are promoting it as a camera that has a lot of dslr like features built into the camera. Has shutter control, exposure control, white balance control uh, just take a much controllers you're comfortable with. I know some of you who are watching or in the audience right now may not know much about this stuff, and hopefully I could teach you a whole bunch today. But if you're even at the end of day, if you're just not comfortable, yeah, put it in auto on get what you can. But as much as you're comfortable with as much youtube tutorials is, you're willing to watch about what white balance means and how to control it takes much control as you can because you can. There are apse for these things. I was at a presentation with mark to plaster. The filmmaker and actor is does all sorts of great things, and he was just talking about like, if you I know howto control the settings on your iphone, if you know how to take control of it like that's, probably all you need. You tell some great stories.

Class Description

Today’s media landscape is largely made up of regular folks who know how to spot a good story and use basic gear to document the world around them. Find out how you can join their ranks and make compelling, marketable shorts in Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 

Griffin made a name for himself with the ode to an iconic hot sauce, Sriracha. In this class, he’ll teach you how to identify, shoot, and share documentary-style video. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize and tell a good story
  • Capture high-caliber footage with low-budget gear 
  • Incorporate all the essentials for online and TV news
  • Produce corporate work clients love
  • Find your audience and monetize your work

Griffin will share tips on lighting, framing, and interviewing subjects so you walk away with lots of usable footage. You’ll watch as Griffin shares clips from a one-day shoot and you’ll learn exactly what it takes to turnaround a complete documentary-style short on a deadline.

You’ll also learn a handful of helpful editing techniques and get insights on the ethical and legal responsibilities of documentary filmmaking.

If you want to learn how to tell meaningful stories that look great and sell, while working on a shoestring budget, don’t miss Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 


Bruce Gruenbaum

First off, if you have not watched Sriracha, go and do that. The techniques that Griffin used in it are pretty incredible. This course expands on those techniques and what really surprised me about this course is how simple the setup is that he uses to make some absolutely amazing documentaries. The quality of what you can produce with the most basic of equipment is really mind-boggling. Some of the most interesting stuff was about B-Roll and how to use it to create a visually interesting presentation. The idea of a lot of small clips that show specific information is invaluable. The techniques he uses to create shots like the one where the camera was placed on top of a cart and pushed down an aisle was amazing. More than anything else, the ideas and tips I came away with have helped me find ways of making my own videos much more interesting.

a Creativelive Student

Griffin is a great storyteller and I was hoping to learn a LOT from this class. But I didn't. I'm an experienced corporate video editor/shooter who's always dreamed of doing a documentary. About half of the class is the very basics of video production (b-roll, rule of thirds, good audio) and the other half is interesting content that seems to cut off just as it becomes engaging. I'm not sure why Creative Live edited it that way other than to extend the number of segments? Although the next segment doesn't seem to pick up where the previous left off. I've never felt that way before about CL, but it seems like every segment is cut right as it gets to things I'm interested in. It did have some great information about revenue streams for a short form documentary, but I was left wanting to learn more. If you're just starting out... this is a great resource to learn the basics of non-fiction filming. If you already work professionally in the field I would pass.

Tim Greig

This is brilliant. Griffin is such a generous, self-deprecating filmmaker you just can't help but love him. He goes into great detail on just how he makes his documentaries and other work and is so inspiring, mostly because he is a one-man band and produces such interesting and wonderful videos. Thank you Griffin and CreativeLive for offering this.