Sometimes it’s not always so simple to ‘Fix it in Post’.
Here are some tips to help you get around 10 of the most common shooting mishaps:
Wrong Colour Temperature
This can be caused because the white balance was not set properly. The footage will have a slight tint that can be time-consuming to fix in post production.
How it could have been fixed: Correctly set the white balance before filming and make sure that it is still accurate throughout the shoot
How you can fix it: Colour Grading
Footage is blurry and this was not the intention. Trying to sharpen footage after the fact is possible but it will in no way look the way it could’ve had the focus been sorted out beforehand.
How it could have been fixed: Make sure the camera is focused correctly during the shoot
How you can fix it: Hours using non-linear editing software (ie. Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer,…)
Although this can be corrected fairly easily, it is also fairly easy to prevent.
How it could have been fixed: Use a tripod during filming and make sure that is level (important to check this before you begin filming, do not assume that it is straight just because it is mounted)
How you can fix it: Using Stabilize (Tracking) function in After Effects will track the movement of the clip and use that information to stabilize it*
* Note that if the camera shake is too severe, you will have to scale the video up/crop the video when AE stabilizes it
This is usually because the camera was not mounted, or if it was, it was not level.
How it could have been fixed: Use a tripod, and double check that it is level
How you can fix it: If the footage is consistently not level, this can be fixed by Rotating it during the edit. If the horizons shift during the clip, the clip will need to be stabilized (After Effects).
Headspace wrong – Top of Head or Feet cut off
It is important to leave enough room above the head. There also needs to be enough space below the feet (if it is not a close-up shot). The rest of the head or the feet cannot be properly reproduced if they are cut off.
How it could have been fixed: If possible, frame the shot and lock down the camera. If not, and you need to zoom/pan/tilt the camera to get the shot, make sure that you are always aware of leaving enough headspace. If you can, do not zoom in so close.
How you can fix it: There is no way to get the head or the feet back, however, it is possible to zoom in even closer to whatever it was that you were filming, and turn it into an extreme close up shot. Ie. if you had to zoom in to emphasise what someone was saying, turn it into a close-up or extreme close up of their mouth as they speak or of their actions as they speak. Re-purpose the clip.
Subject size/Inappropriate Camera Height
Framing is so important and when it is really messed up, it can effect the quality of the shot. For example, if there is too much headroom and the subject is much too far away, trying to zoom in later on might mean that some of the image quality is lost.
How it could have been fixed: Make sure the shot is properly framed, and that the subject is not too close or too far way
How you can fix it: If the camera is too far away from the subject, you can try zooming in. However, this may not always work because the video could look pixelated if you zoom in too much. It is not possible the zoom out if you are too close to the subject. In that case, all that can be done is re-purposing the clip. Either discarding it or using as a close-up.
All subjects composed centre-frame
Again, this is a problem with the framing. Although it is okay to shoot the subject in the centre of the frame, it is not advised because it is not visually-appealing.
How it could have been fixed: Position subjects at a third of the frame (Always keep the Rule of Thirds in mind)
How you can fix it: If you are willing (and able) to zoom in, you can crop the shot in Post and re-frame it so that the subject is at a third of the frame. This will not work in times where you have gotten too close to the subject to start with, or if there is not enough room on either side of the subject to allow for any repositioning.
Shots do not interrelate
It is so common for filmmakers/camera operators to forget that aside from filming the main actions, it is just as important to capture the connective material that can link one action to the next. Without the ‘transitional footage’, your project will have continuity issues.
How it could have been fixed: This can be fixed with proper planning in Pre-production. Think about how the action is going to flow from one shot to the next and make sure to insist that cut-aways, close-ups, establishing shots, nod shots, reaction shots and other footage for transitions are captured.
How you can fix it: The edit will have to be altered. If there is no material to connect two actions, it just isn’t there. Consider reworking the edit so that the shots have a link between them (though this might effect the narrative). If this is not possible, look into stock footage that can be added to fill in the gaps.
Subject obscured, background objects, distractions
This is one of those mistakes that cannot be undone. It is yet another issue with framing. You have to always be mindful of everything that the camera captures because when it comes to recording video, it is not easy to remove/fix.
How it could have been fixed: Pay attention to the way the shot is framed. Make sure that there is nothing obstructing the view of the subject (unintentionally). Also, have a look at what is in the background. This could include minor things like rubbish on the ground taking up a third of the frame to major things like activity happening in the background that is not a part of your set-up.
How you can fix it: There is no way to properly remove an object if it is blocking part of your subject. It will be obvious that something has been erased. Equally, large distractions that cover the entire background can be very difficult to fix. If it is something that goes not take up too much of the background, it is possible to mask around your subject only, however something will need to be done about the background. Reversely, the small area can be removed, but something will need to be appropriately put in its place. Rotoscoping can sometimes be used in these cases.
Shots too brief or start of action missed
A common mistake make made during filming is to cut the action short by either not allowing enough time before the action begins or by not recording all the way to the end of the action. If the action is vital to your understanding of the narrative, this is a costly mistake. There is not enough footage to work with, and by using all of the footage as it is, it looks unfinished.
How it could have been fixed: Allow five seconds before and after the action begins. Also, it helps to shoot a lot of footage of the same action so you allow yourself to be dependent on only one clip.
How you can fix it: There is no way to reproduce the beginning or ending of a clip. All that can be done is using the part-action or supplementing it with stock footage (if possible).