I just posted a new video on Testing and it barely scratches the surface regarding the virtue of the practice. I test all the time and for a really good reason – I don’t want to mess around while shooting a trick shot or using a piece of equipment that is not a proven commodity. In other words – like the old adage – lawyers only ask questions they already know the answer to.
Professionally – testing is a very important part of prepping a project. It would be irresponsible to gamble on an unproven concept while playing with house money. It’s also a good way to get fired. As mentioned in the video, there is no limit to the amount and kind of testing you can do. If you’re unsure – test it! Even if it’s a simple series of exposures with a still camera for a light study – you will know what time that barn shadow is going to cut right the middle of the set and you plan accordingly.
Don’t let simple, easy to discover quantities bite you in the ass. There is no excuse for it. No competent cinematographer I know will ever get caught by this kind of oversight. Some people might call it laziness, cockiness or hubris. I call it stupid and entirely avoidable. Successful DP’s commit very few unforced errors!
If there is doubt – test it! There are enough unknowns on any given shoot day to begin with – don’t add to the chaos by guessing about this and that. Besides it’s wonderful showing up for work KNOWING that something is going work great and even better than expected due to a test or two!
I test stuff when I’m not working because I am incurably curious and can’t sit still, ever. You would be amazed at the testing you can do around the house and in the yard. Especially since we are almost exclusively digital now. With a decent still camera you can have a lot of fun just getting to the bottom of color temperature. Do you really know the difference between 2800 K and 3200K? Or just how blue is 9000 K? You can learn about all of these things on your own time and maybe even apply this knowledge while planning the look of your next project.
Play with depth of field! Lock off your camera and photograph a measuring tape. Run through all of your f-stops with a fixed focus at a set distance. You’ll be amazed at the DOF difference between 2.8 and 5.6. I guarantee you’ll start adding ND to get to where you want to be once your knowledgeable of these focus zones.
I call this testing for fun!
Don’t get me started on all the green screen tests you can do with a simple green foam core poster board you can get at STAPLES. Also there’s digital green gaffers tape available at any hardware store for covering seams if you want to put a couple of these green cards together.
I think I’ve made my point! Write me if you want to talk more about testing!Return to Musings