“For spring break I traveled with my church on a mission trip in Bogota, Colombia. I attempted to capture a couple shots of my group in well lit areas, but I wasn’t able to ask any questions like an interview session would consist of, for safety reasons. However I had an amazing time traveling and capturing the few videos I was able. It was a really good learning experience for the run and gun environment and spiked my passion for mission work and ethnography as a whole.”


 

“My biggest issue was lighting everything I shot I tried to correct because it was over exposed. I used the auto ISO but I think my problem was not the ISO but not lowering my f-stop more. I think i wouldn’t want to be lower than like 4.5 for an interview like this. Other option too would be to reposition some of the people if they were willing .
I think being over exposed was why in the last one it couldn’t focus on the girls face.
This was probably an interview style I will not use a lot with any kind of work I want to do but it was good practice to make you realize how hard it is to actually get a good lit shot when you aren’t setting up the scene. ”


 

“I think telling the people about my project before led their answers in a useful direction to me. People really seemed to enjoy talking about their lives but i was probably turned down by 7/13 people i asked for an interview and one guy just wanted to do it by recorder not on camera. Over all a cool experience and one i would like to do in future projects. I enjoyed having the depth of the outdoors but that Kansas wind did not help.”


 

“I actually learned so much more from this process than what is seen in the video.

1. Preparing for street interviews:
I ended up having a lot less time to switch lenses and adjust camera settings during the event than I thought I was going to have. Next time I will make sure I have my settings down immediately and try not to change them very much. I would scout the location before hand and pre-set camera settings and see which lens was best.

2. During the interviews:
I learned that I ruin a lot of the interviews by saying Mmmhmm! and responding to the people. Next time I’ll know to just nod my head because those mmhmms are so annoying and I can’t get them out of my audio.

I should adjust camera settings to people’s individual complexions. I over exposed the people with fair skin just by not adjusting my levels between interviews.

Next time, I would set aside a separate, quiet location for interviews. I was in a hurry to get people before they left so I would just grab them and interview them right where they were standing, so it was really hard to find a quiet place. Next time I would make my own quiet place and lure them to it!

As usual, my shots are not nearly as stable as they could be even though I used some stabilization measures. Next time I’ll just bring a full on tripod.

3. Post:
I made the mistake of putting my whole video together before editing audio. I could not get the audio from Premiere to Audition and back and I just ran out of time and gave up. I understand that the audio is salvageable garbage and I am very disappointed because the videos had the potential to be really sweet.


My biggest mistakes were on the technical side of things:
1. not getting any audio to help cancel out background noise
2. Not turning off auto ISO (it appears to stay near 100 -300 for the first two interviews)

My next biggest mistakes were easily corrected in post thanks to shooting in 4k. Namely, I was more concerned with being engaged, and not paying attention to my framing. This lets the camera drift as I talked. Finally, I also feel I interjected a bit early with the first interview, got better in the second, and wasn’t bad in the third. I need to become more comfortable allowing silences to cook a bit longer.


 

Lessons Learned:

  • Having a shooting strategy for multiple situations was essential.
    • Carrying a small camera/phone in front pocket for quick shots, good camera in a sling bag for relatively quick access.
    • Zoom lens during daylight hours.  Primes in the morning/evening.
    • 120p for action shots, 4K 24p for everything else worked great.
    • Locking in good color settings in camera saved a ton of time and work.
    • I had 5 content/story themes as well as 5 composition themes that guided my shooting.  This helped a lot.
    • With these strategies in place I was able to let the story unfold very naturally, even with George being up all night and spending most of my time being a dad rather than an ethnographer.
  • Immersion in experiences and engaging with people is essential to good ethnography.  Sneaking videos of people is not nearly as good as really engaging with people and working with them to create good shots.
  • Overall, I’m actually amazed at all I was able to experience and film in such a short time.  8 months of dedicated and passionate practice have really paid off.  I could not have done anything like this 8 months ago.
  • Editing this will take MONTHS and I’m super-excited to see what I can put together from the material I have.  This was just a quick edit I put together in 12 hours yesterday.
  • What I would do different next time:
    • Dedicate significant time to learning the language
    • Set up better interview situations
    • Engage with people more and set up good portrait opportunities
    • Do more vlogging / reflection to use as narration later (though it is super-awkward for me!)
    • Use a gimbal or steadicam almost all the time.  I’m going to buy a simple $50 steadicam to carry with me.
    • Spend more time getting good audio
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