Published February 11, 2014 by Gregg Schieve
I’m a big fan of the PBS TV show This Old House. Being a bit of a do-it-yourselfer, I love to watch the pros on this show “do it right.” In fact, in another life I think I would enjoy being a carpenter (except for the working outside in the winter part).
Anyway, back to the show…
The parts of the show that I especially like are the ones featuring Tom Silva and Norm Abram tackling a difficult carpentry problem on one of their project houses which are typically out of level or out of plumb. This forces Tom and Norm to creative some interesting work-arounds to adapt the new construction to the old structure. Their years of experience help them arrive at some effective solutions.
On a recent show, Tom and Norm came up with a clever way to lay a new wood floor in an old house. The problem was that the distance between the walls was not equal from one end of the room to the other. The flooring needed to run the entire length of the long main living space. It had to look nice, without any obvious visual imperfections.
Stay with me – this will relate to video production eventually.
Since this house’s walls were not perpendicular, Tom and Norm devised a plan to start installing the flooring in the center of the room and working evenly towards both walls. This way the center portions of the flooring looked perpendicular to the space and the uneven edges by the walls were less noticeable. The result was a beautifully installed wood floor that enhanced the space rather than detract from it.
Ok, here’s how this is related to video production.
When Tweedee Productions goes on location for a shoot, we go into a wide variety of settings. Now most of us think that our businesses, offices or homes look pretty nice. However, what is seen with the naked eye will look entirely different through a lens. Blank walls look lifeless and boring, that shelf unit in the back ground now looks cluttered and distracting, and those overhead lights will cast some ugly shadows.
But just as Tom and Norm have their tricks of the trade, we have our tricks to solving video problems. Our experience has taught us that a slash of light can perk up a boring blank wall. Or, removing clutter from a background will help the viewer focus on what an interview subject is saying. An out-of-focus background is even better. Or simply turning off overhead lights and adding light strategically helps to give a scene depth, warmth or a pleasant look.
Our experience helps us make quick, intuitive decisions on how to manage a scene so it will look good on camera. We have been in many challenging locations – locations that should not look as good as they eventually do on camera. Just like the projects on This Old House, the most important thing is how it looks in the end.
Below - the image on the top shows an every day classroom with plain walls and clutter. The bottom image shows a nicely composed shot, no distractions, and a soft back ground.
Tricks of the trade.