It was great to be back on set today with real actors for the first time since lockdown began. The panda is cute, but she's not the same as real actors!
We had beautiful weather, in a lovely countryside location, which is ideal for keeping safe while filming. I think we're going to be limited to outdoor locations for the forseeable future, and it's definitely going to get a lot harder as we move into winter.
Mobile phones for audio?
This was our first time shooting narrative dialogue with a DSRL and it went fairly well. We didn't have time to secure audio equipment, so we decided to use lavalier (lapel) mics plugged into a mobile phone in each actor's pocket. This turned out to be a very good demonstration of how, while it is possible to get good quality audio (and footage) from a mobile phone, in practice, it probably won't happen. Or, you will have to work very hard to make it happen.
First of all, we couldn't get one of the actor's phones to talk to the mic, so we had to use another phone. That phone records good-quality audio through the internal mic, but it wasn't as good using an external mic. Also, the phones were too big to be easily concealed and remain accessible, so it was very difficult for the actors to start and stop the audio. The result was huge audio files, that took a long time to deal with in post production. Getting the audio files off the phones after the shoot was also a big nuisance. Worse, with all the pulling phones in and out of costumes, the gain controls got knocked and lots of the audio was unusable.
All in all, it was a lot of fuss, and a huge amount of time was needed in post production cleaning up the audio and the result was not amazing.
Despite the problems with audio, the footage was very nice visually. So, we've proved that we can shoot high-quality video on the DSLR; we just need to sort out the audio.
We managed to shoot about half the footage for our short film, so we'll be planning a second day of shooting soon. An audio recorder and extra mics are definitely on the shopping list before then!