How to Record and Import Footage for Your Digital Film - dummies

How to Record and Import Footage for Your Digital Film

By Nick Willoughby

You just press Record, right? Making your digital film is not quite as simple as that. Take your time. It’s important not to rush when setting up your camera. Rushing can lead to mistakes. It’s a good idea to make sure everything is set up before you call the actors in. If they arrive early, get them to read through their lines while you prepare for the shot.

Directors often give instructions to cast and crew as part of the filming routine. If you watch behind-the-scenes footage from films, you can sometimes hear the directors calling out instructions to the team. These may seem like code if you don’t know what they mean. The following list describes some of the most common:

The director gives instructions to the team.
The director gives instructions to the team.
  • “Quiet on set”: This grabs the attention of the crew and actors around and warns them you are filming and that everyone should stop talking. If people continue to talk, you may need to shout louder.

  • “Roll sound”: This is a cue for the sound operator to start the sound recording (if you’re capturing sound separately). It’s also an opportunity for him or her to warn you of any unwanted noises. If all is clear and your sound operator has set the sound recording, he will respond with “Sound rolling” or just give you a thumbs‐up.

    Ready to capture sound for your film.
    Ready to capture sound for your film.
  • “Roll camera”: This is a cue for the camera operator to start the camera recording. When she’s done this, she’ll respond with “Camera rolling.” Remember to keep your finger away from the Record button while filming — you may accidentally press it again and stop recording.

    The camera operator is ready to capture footage.
    The camera operator is ready to capture footage.

    If you watch behind‐the‐scenes documentaries about the making of films you see the camera operator shout out “speed” instead of “rolling.” This is a leftover from the days when the cameras recorded onto reels of tape. On those cameras, the motors inside the cameras would need a few seconds to get the reel of tape rolling at the right speed.

    Back then, the camera operator would wait until the camera was rolling at the right speed and would shout “speed” to let the director know it was okay to record. This term may be out‐of‐fashion, but some camera operators still use it. You can use either “speed” or “rolling”; it’s up to you.

  • “Slates”: This is the cue for the person with the clapperboard to introduce the scene and take number.

    Take one!
    Take one!
  • “Action”: This is the last instruction to be called before the scene begins. It instructs the actors to start acting.

    Time to shoot some action.
    Time to shoot some action.
  • “Cut”: This instructs the camera and sound operator to stop recording after the actors have finished the scene. It’s important not to shout this too early: You may need the extra video footage later, when you’re editing your film.

After many of the instructions called by the director, the crew is expected to respond — to confirm, for instance, that the sound and camera are rolling. Even if you’re filming on your own, it’s good to call out the instructions as a reminder to yourself and also to let people around you know that you are filming. It’s good to get into this habit for when you work with a larger film crew.

Importing your footage from your camera can be done in two ways, as explained below:

  • Importing directly from the camera: This involves connecting your digital video camera to the computer directly via a USB or FireWire cable. Your camera instructions will be able to show you where the USB or FireWire connection is on your camera.

    Your editing tool should recognize when the camera is connected and you can import your footage from the camera.

    Editing is a very important part of filmmaking.
    Editing is a very important part of filmmaking.
  • Importing from the media card: This involves removing the media card from the camera and inserting it into a media card reader connected to your computer.

    Your editing tool should recognize the media card when it’s inserted and you will be able to import the video clips from your media card.

    Using a media card makes transporting your footage easy.
    Using a media card makes transporting your footage easy.