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Thread: Filming Children

  1. #1
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    Default Filming Children

    Specifically in response to TonyBR's queries, but this may be useful to anyone faced with the prospect of filming children.
    Tim

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    Tony, feel free to post some more specific detail about your task, but here are some general starters *(you're probably aware of these anyway)

    1. Get the camera down to the children's level or below. We don't want shots of their heads [EDIT: by which I mean the tops of their heads]
    2. Get them used to the camera. Even play around with it without it being switched off. Even children as young as 1year seem to be capable of understanding what a camera is and will play up to it. Only once they're got used to it/bored with it will they start to act naturally
    3. Be prepared for hours going through the raw footage. Why? Unlike the normal rule of "shoot for the edit" you have to keep the camera rolling. The moment you switch it off, the child will do something which would have made the perfect shot.
    4. Look for contrasts that accentuate their size (eg small hands against adult goves or tiny bodies in a super king-size bed). Similarly childrend doing "adult" things (eg wielding a monkey wrench)
    5. Toys make great cutaways. As children's versions of things.
    6. Messy feeding can add a touch of humour but be very careful and use it only VERY sparingly. Parents find it amusing - the rest of the world doesn't!
    7. Usual rules of mix of shots apply. Unless it's a trip to somewhere significant a wide establishing shot isn't necessary.
    8. Now you've have a taste of colour correction/grading, don't be afraid to play withit. Add saturation, add glow or glint. Fill your boots!
    9. Anthing with a musical box works for music!
    Last edited by TimStannard; 08-06-2012 at 08:19 PM.
    Tim

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    I haven't got much to add to Tims list without knowing what the full brief is except have loads of Patience and I know Tim has said leave the camera running and that may be the way to go but thats not the way I would film, I'd go for short bursts BUT knowing the brief and why they have to be on there own will point to how to go about it.

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    Get a few minutes of filming when they can't see the camera. As tim says, kids soon realise what a camera does, and quickly do one of two things: show off or be shy. Use a long lens and hide yourself away. This can be an ideal way to get the 'real" shots.

    Tracking shots work well, but you'll need some kind of handle on your cam or be really good at walking on your knees. If you have a small cam, take a look a something like an x-grip.

    Unless you're amazing, use automatic focus. Kids move randomly, fast and rarely sit still.

    Stay calm. They'll never do what you want, but often what you need. If you must insist on directing children, let them think you either din't want them to, or they shouldn't be doing it. Become their partner in crime. Don't boss. You're not their parent.

    Let them touch the camera. It's a cliched shot, but it's cute.

    Look away from the view finder a lot. You tend to get carried away on tracking the kid, and not the scene.

    Make use of the toys not just for cutaways, but also for reveals.

    Smile. Lots.

  5. #5
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    Wow, thanks Tim.... Here is my "task":


    A bit of history before... We have a good friend that is a vascular surgeon.... Eight years ago his little baby was born with a deformation on her head called plagiocephalia. Even being in the medical area, he didnt know exactly what to do, and discovered that many pediatricians didnt know anything about the subject too! He ended up in the USA, where he stayed for 6 months while his daughter went through a treatment with an ortesis that, maybe, you have seen around there in UK, and looks like a small plastic helmet that the baby wears 18 hours per day. This helmet is sculpted inside, bit by bit, in order to bring the head's format to normal. Like a dental orthesis pushing the teeth bit by bit, but outside the head!

    Back to Brasil, he sudenly became a person with more information on that subject than anybody else.... Didnt take long for him to start working with the same ortesis here, although the helmets are still made in the US. He scans the baby head here, send the data to US, and they send the helmet back with the appropriate initial format inside. The sculpting along the 6 months treatment is done here by him now.

    Well, the point is that there are many children borning with the same problem here in Brasil, but still a huge lack of information available.... He has a website, is visiting all the pediatrics congresses available and working a lot to spread the information about the problem and the ways to avoid it and, if needed, to treat it.

    Thats where Im coming in.... Ill try to help with a video! BUT, here are the details:


    1) its NOT a technical video! There are many variations of the problem and its not possible to cover them well in 5 or 50 minutes.
    2) the main idea is to show the day-by-day of children under treatment here now (I have 6 families to visit individually)
    3) Im planning to mix a few shot of the technique (scaning the baby's head, sculpting a helmet, the phisioteraphy team working etc), but in the begining and very quickly.
    4) not sure if its interesting to insert a quick interview with parents. Seems a bit out-of-place when I think about nice shots of babies with their colorful helmets in a garden, for example....


    Well, thats it.... Six families to visit (in their houses), six babies (8 months to 1.5 years old) wearing helmets, and the need to spread the word about this treatment finally available in BR.

    Of course Im not charging a cent for the video, as my friend is working hard on this, and he is helping a lot of people that cant afford the treatment... And, of course, he knows that Im not a professional, so no big expectations from his side too. I just hope I can surprise him (an me) in a good way...

    Thanks for the ideas to you all in advance!
    Last edited by TonyBR; 08-06-2012 at 10:12 PM.

  6. #6
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    Oh, the equipment available....

    1) one reasonably good camera (AVCHD) with 10x optical zoom and very good image stabilization (Sony NX70U)
    2) one GoPro (to turn on and let the children play with pehaps?)
    3) 2 tripods with fluid heads
    4) one short jib (Im not familiar with its use yet)
    5) one dolly
    6) one cart with long handle to mount the camera close to the floor and walk to/from the children
    7) 4 lighting kits (tripods, 2 150W lamps each, reflective white umbrellas)
    2 main direct lights with 250w lamps each

    Not sure If Ill take all that with me, as Ill probably be alone :(
    Last edited by TonyBR; 08-06-2012 at 10:13 PM.

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    Tony, I'm sure you must feel it's a privilige to help out your friend by spreading awareness this way. But you must also feel a certain weight of responsibility, having to put over a clear and accurate information without over dramatising (What am I on about? This is South America!)

    I think you/your surgeoun friend have the right idea focusing this all on the positives and the day-to-day life with children undergoing the treatment whilst covering the technical aspect is only general terms.

    Personally I think interviews with the parents are important. People who come to watch the film are most likely to be parents or relatives who are searching for information because they have a child with plagiocephalia. One of the things they will be after is reassurance and having other parents speaking directly of their experience is probably the thing they will relate to most. This is the "human" bit of the audio. Your surgeon (or his nominated "voice") is the knowledge bit. Both of these provide the audio to go behind all the wonderful shots of the children that you wll be making. This is probably not a film where you can just show babies playing to the sound of a lesser know classic, no matter how cute they look!

    Pay careful attention to what Marc Peters says. Both Midnight and I have young (now 7 and 8 y/o ) daughters but both came to video after they were born (well I did, and I think I'm right in Midnight's case). Marc, on the other hand, has been making excellent videos for many years and has a daughter of eactly the same sort of age as you will be filming right now, so his experience guidance will be invaluable.
    Last edited by TimStannard; 08-06-2012 at 10:23 PM.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    But you must also feel a certain weight of responsibility, having to put over a clear and accurate information without over dramatising (What am I on about? This is South America!)
    Hummm....I was a bit nervous until a few minutes ago....now Im just moving to "terrified" status!! Yeah....South America!!!! Samba when were happy, tango when were sad, work when we dont have anything else to do.....



    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Personally I think interviews with the parents are important. People who come to watch the film are most likely to be parents or relatives who are searching for information because they have a child with plagiocephalia. One of the things they will be after is reassurance and having other parents speaking directly of their experience is probably the thing they will relate to most. This is the "human" bit of the audio.Your surgeon (or his nominated "voice") is the knowledge bit. Both of these provide the audio to go behind all the wonderful shots of the children that you wll be making.
    Totally agree! Im not sure if Ill be able to shoot an interview, but Ill sure try.... If I can save 2 or 3 comments from each parents shot and insert in the final movie, I guess that it will be perfect. The back voice of my friend is a great idea.... Ill think about what and where it may fit...

    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    This is probably not a film where you can just show babies playing to the sound of a lesser know classic, no matter how cute they look!
    Hummm, guess I must say that this was my 1st idea for the movie.... Got a fantastic music already!!! But the little interviews/voices/comments in the middle will be great!!! wow.... just a step back from terrified status now!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Pay careful attention to what Marc Peters says. Both Midnight and I have young (now 7 and 8 y/o ) daughters but both came to video after they were born (well I did, and I think I'm right in Midnight's case). Marc, on the other hand, has been making excellent videos for many years and has a daughter of eactly the same sort of age as you will be filming right now, so his experience guidance will be invaluable.
    Hey, there must be an statistical bias here.... Do we all have daughters around 7 years old???? Mine are 5 and 7 now too!!! Whats the trend??? Buy a motorcycle and a video camera after??? What sort of motorbike do you ride???

    Marc, thanks for your help. Im listening all comments with great attention.

  9. #9

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    I use to ride motor cycles for a living but gave them up quite some years ago. My last bike was a Honda VFR 750.

    I got my first video camera when my daughter was 14 months old. I found the best shots of her was shooting from a distance zoomed in, she didn't know I was filming her most of the time. Here is an example of this HERE you will notice she is just doing what she did naturally. Another tip is to use someone just out of shot to get the baby to move or turn in a specific direction that you may want. The best shots will be when the baby is interacting with something or someone but as I'm sure you know having a variety of shots, angles, distances etc. will give you more options in the edit.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peters View Post
    Get a few minutes of filming when they can't see the camera. As tim says, kids soon realise what a camera does, and quickly do one of two things: show off or be shy. Use a long lens and hide yourself away. This can be an ideal way to get the 'real" shots.

    Tracking shots work well, but you'll need some kind of handle on your cam or be really good at walking on your knees. If you have a small cam, take a look a something like an x-grip.

    Unless you're amazing, use automatic focus. Kids move randomly, fast and rarely sit still.

    Stay calm. They'll never do what you want, but often what you need. If you must insist on directing children, let them think you either din't want them to, or they shouldn't be doing it. Become their partner in crime. Don't boss. You're not their parent.

    Let them touch the camera. It's a cliched shot, but it's cute.

    Look away from the view finder a lot. You tend to get carried away on tracking the kid, and not the scene.

    Make use of the toys not just for cutaways, but also for reveals.

    Smile. Lots.

    Hi Marc, thanks a lot for your tips...


    Liked the idea of "partners in crime"!!!! I worked as a teacher (Biology) for many years and, whenever I needed full support or attention from a group, a crime was about to be comited!!

    Please expand the "toys for reveals and cutaways" idea. A few examples and ideas would be great.

    Im taking 2 lens-cleaning kits.... I can see already some chocolate-fingers reaching the camera lens!!!

    I have this original handle on the camera, 41iPJDlzbIL.jpg but will also use a low-cart with the camera fixed on it to follow the childrem walking/crawling (?). Guess it will be fun....



    Auto focus OK, LCD panel to follow scene OK.... SteadyShot ON OK ?

    Stay calm.... OK, Im trying!


    Thanks again, Tony

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