Filming the President

December 28, 2012

I’ve recently started volunteering with an organization called Yala Young Leaders- it’s not yet another Israeli/Palestinian peace initiative, but a much more realistic and viable movement that (I believe) can actually make a difference in this ongoing conflict. Plus, it gives me hope (a true commodity during these pre-election days).

Anyway, Yala have recently held an online conference on Shaker (if you don’t know it you definitely should- very cool concept) and had President Peres address the participants. In order to film the President, Nimrod BenZe’ev (who works for Yala and took these pictures) and myself drove to Jerusalem to the President’s residence. After going through security (which makes airport security look like fun game time…) we were escorted into the main building. It was a media day for Peres and we had to wait till an Al Jazeera crew was done filming.

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I must say- it was a little intimidating following that crew, which was fully equipped with a few cameras, mics, rails- the whole thing. Gladly, I found out that the lighting gear they used (several Kino Flos- high quality and easy to use lights) actually belonged to the President’s residence- a great relief, as I was already running some ideas on how to make the short video look good with the room lights. Once Al Jazeera left with all the fancy gear, we were rushed in to set up.

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Another nice surprise was that we were given free range in the room to move things around and stylize however we saw fit. I wanted to keep the frame relatively clean and not too busy- after all, it was about the President, not the surrounding. On the other hand, I didn’t like the drape too much. I did keep the Menorah since it was Chanukah and, of course, the Israeli flag (which I made sure for slightly to the side of the President and not sticking out of his head). The left side of the frame was filled with some flowers and the empty table with a glass of water, to balance out the frame. A shutter set to f/5.6 kept a relatively small depth of field and slightly blurred out the background objects (had I known that he would hardly move his head while talking I could have kept it at f/4 and blur the background even more).

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I had to determine is which way the president would be facing. This was going to be a personal address, which made me decide that he should face the camera and speak directly to it. I had Nimrod sit in for the Peres (Yael, the President’s social media consultant, assured me they were more or less the same height) and I set up the lights using two Kino Flos. I didn’t do anything too fancy since I was eager to be done as soon as possible- the President was about to get out of a meeting at any moment and we needed to be ready. The kino Flos are large, so the light was rather soft and nice, which definitely suited the mood I wanted for the video.
Once I set the camera and sound, I could relax. However, then came my perpetual inner conflict: I spotted two other lights in the back of the room. So, if I only take 10 more minutes I could create a really nice lighting setup, with some backlight and a distinct separation to the background… Oh, the temptation! However, I took the responsible route and decided to leave the light as is and be ready.

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When recording sound, one should always have a backup, so I kept my little recorder on the table just out of the frame. Sound quality would have been very poor- strictly for emergencies…

Once he finished his meeting, Peres walked in, sat down and was all ready to go. He knew the drill and helped me set up the mic and test the sound (he needed no instructions on both- he knew exactly what to do). Without hesitation, he gave his address- one take, perfectly done. Mic off, a picture with Nimrod and he was off to the next meeting. What a pro!

P.s.

This post was originally named “Shooting the President”. I thought it might not be such a good idea after all…I’ve recently started volunteering with an organization called Yala Young Leaders- it’s not yet another Israeli/Palestinian peace initiative, but a much more realistic and viable movement that (I believe) can actually make a difference in this ongoing conflict. Plus, it gives me hope (a true commodity during these pre-election days).

Anyway, Yala have recently held an online conference on Shaker (if you don’t know it you definitely should- very cool concept) and had President Peres address the participants. In order to film the President, Nimrod BenZe’ev (who works for Yala and took these pictures) and myself drove to Jerusalem to the President’s residence. After going through security (which makes airport security look like fun game time…) we were escorted into the main building. It was a media day for Peres and we had to wait till an Al Jazeera crew was done filming.

 

 

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