• Sean Keenan

Making a story

For my next video project, I’ve taken up the task to create a mini-documentary on a local story I find intriguing. Before I can begin the pre-production for that though, there are a few more lessons from The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video to learn.


For nearly every piece of video, lighting is integral. Aspects like a bad glare from the sun or over/under exposure can really ruin a film, as it now looks nothing like it’s supposed to. For example, genres benefit from different kinds of lighting. When you have a neo-noir-like film, you want a more dimly lit area with a lot of reds and blues, while for an old-style western, it’ll be brighter with more greens and yellows, helping show off the sun beaming down.

Another important aspect of lighting is the different types of lighting, with some of the basic ones being natural, practical, and interior lighting. Natural lighting mainly just includes the sun. At times, if it’s at the right spot, the sun is the only light you’ll need. Other times though, the sun will be at a difficult angle and ruin your lighting. For situations like these, there’s a variety of different fill lights you can put in to stop the glare.

In terms of practical lighting, that refers to physical lighting aspects you can see in the scene like street lights or a T.V. The benefit of practical lighting is that since it’s usually a natural aspect of the scene it allows you to be more precise in your lighting as you don’t have to worry about making sure the lights aren’t seen. Interior lighting is broader, as it refers to any lighting on the inside. For a specific interior technique though, the three-point lighting one is very common, especially in interviews. Three-point lighting refers to using three different types of lighting to light a scene, with the three lights being

  • Key Light (The main light and the strongest. Is put to one side of the camera)

  • Fill Light (Secondary light placed to the opposite of the key light, used to fill shadows made by key)

  • Back Light (Placed behind the interviewee, used to provide the definition and subtle highlights)

Doing it

While for many they simply just want to say screw it, let’s just make the film, there’s much more of a process involved. For one, filming takes a lot of time and the sets you eat are likely for a limited time as well. Due to this, it’s extremely important to have a well thought out plan before you begin your filming. This means your filming can be far more efficient, allowing you to both get better footage as well as more footage, as you’re not wasting time figuring out what to shoot.

For specific strategies on how to plan before a shoot as well as keep track of it, things such as storyboards and clapperboards are extremely useful. For storyboards, you’ll have an easy reference for your shots, as well as a better way to test what angles you want and will work best together. Clapperboards are great for keeping track of your shots both on set and in post-production. They also help get everyone in the process more involved.


Ken Burns Baseball - The late 1960’s and Curt Flood

This is a snippet from Ken Burns’ ginormous, 10 part baseball documentary. In this sequence, the story of the player Kurt Flood is told, most known for being a major part of changing the financial landscape of baseball. What’s interesting about this clip to me is how they change the pace and dynamic of the scene in the middle. They first start with clips of the war in Vietnam and the protests that accompanied it. This scene is very intense, with some graphic footage and a fitting, fast-paced song. They then transition into a much slower sequence talking about Flood. They add to this by rather than having fast-paced footage, they instead show pictures with a calm voice in the background. This helps present how at the time, there was both the violent, hecticness of the 1960s, as well as the more personal struggle that Flood and his family are facing.

MLB Productions Presents - Game 162

This is one of my favorite documentaries due to the day it covered being such a crazy day for baseball. I also find the documentary very enjoyable to follow along with, as it has great pacing throughout. The whole doc focuses on game 162 of 2011, which means there are 15 different games going on that day. They do a great job first showing the main teams to follow, Cardinals and Rays trying to catch the Braves and Rays. They spliced in many different types of footage, such interviews after the fact, pre game tweets, highlights from sports shows, etc. This helps give a much better perspective on what people were actually thinking and feeling throughout that crazy day, making the story of it even greater.

Video Game Documentary - Arcades

While I think the concept is cool, the structure of the whole documentary is a little strange to me. For one, the music doesn’t fit in my view. When I think arcade games, I think either 80’s synth or something electronic, not heavy metal. The audio of many of the interviews was not properly leveled either. It can be a struggle to hear at times. The weird effects they had on some of the interviews also didn’t help in that regard either.

My Documentary

For my own documentary, I'm going to create one documenting the Nerf Battle of Fort Dixwell. My main goal for this project is a humor and my pre-production document is linked below with more details

Pre-Production Document

Recent Posts

See All
  • LinkedIn

© 2020 by Sean Keenan.