Cinema School: Lesson 1 – Equipment

Camera:  Do the best you can do with whatever camera you have or can get. A camera is essential, but don’t obsess over it. It can be analog or digital.  It can be Standard Definition, High Definition, or even Ultra High Definition. It doesn’t really matter as long as you can tell the story.

High Definition currently comes in 4 main flavors:

High Definition – 1280 x 720 progressive

Full High Definition – 1920 x 1080 progressive

Ultra High Definition – 3840 x 2160 progressive

Cinema 4k – 4096×2160 progressive

External Audio Recorder:  Proximity is crucial with audio. The closer you are to your subject the higher quality your audio will be. In-camera sound, even with an external microphone can be hit or miss due to less than suitable in-camera pre-amps. 

Instead of using the camera’s pre-amps or internal microphone, opt for a microphone pre-amp or an external recorder with XLR and line capability.

Shotgun Microphone:  A cylindrical shaped microphone used for collecting audio directly in front of it while rejecting audio from the sides and rear. Shotgun microphones have a more steamlined focus than a conventional microphone.

A shotgun microphone is most useful in outdoor environments; especially in conjunction with a boom operator or boom stand.

Wireless microphones:  Wireless technology can be a bit more difficult to set up, but using a wireless microphone will give you the ability to get excellent audio from a distance.

Wind Reduction:  Wind reduction equipment is essential for capturing audio outdoors.  It can be the difference between below-average sound and exceptional sound.

Boom Stand: An alternative to having a sound operator with a boom pole is using a boom stand.  This stand allows you to place a microphone on a telescoping pole.  It is not as handy as having someone boom the talent, but it will allow you to get similar audio coverage during shots featuring little movement.

Boom pole:  If you have at least one person to help you with your program this is the job that a person must have.  A good boom operator is worth his/her weight in gold.

Booming tip:  When booming overhead aim the microphone at the chest of the actor.  This will allow you to get more bass, created a fuller more rich sound.

Booming tip:  When booming from below aim at the actor’s mouth.  Aiming at the chest will capture too much bass.