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5 Easily Forgotten Things to Check Before Hitting Record

Caleb Ward

Run through this checklist before you shoot.

Whether you’re shooting for a corporate video or a feature film, there will always be a million things to consider before hitting ‘record’. Between actors, crew members, and producers you can easily forget a vital camera setting in the chaos of it all. So before your next big shoot here are 5 things you need to keep in mind.

1. File Type

Picking the right file type essentially comes down to two factors: size and quality. If you want the best quality possible than you want to shoot in the most uncompressed format possible. Unfortunately, with increased quality comes increased file size – so you’ll need to ensure you have enough record media to shoot on (cards, drives, etc).

If you’re not doing all the production and post work yourself, be sure to have a conversation with the team about file type before shooting. Often the video editor will prefer one file type over another.

It should also be noted that some cameras don’t remember the file format you shot on last, so if you use a new card or replace a battery, you need to go into your settings to make sure nothing has changed.

2. Picture Profile

A picture profile is the way in which your camera will record the colors of your image. While your image may “pop” if you’re recording in a high-saturation profile like portrait or landscape, it is generally advised that you shoot flat in-camera. Shooting flat means an “unsharpened and less contrasty, slightly undersaturated modification of the standard picture profile” (from Cinema5D) – allowing for more versatility when manipulating the video image in post. When shooting in a compressed format it is even more difficult to manipulate the image in post, so you better make sure you’re recording in the color profile you want.

If you’re a Canon shooter you can download over 150+ free picture profiles here. Nikon shooter? This post provides a good baseline picture profile for shooting video on Nikon cams.

3. Specs on the Lens

Now a clean lens may seem like a no brainer, but how often do you actually clean your lens on-set? It can be extremely easy for a small speck to land on the lens during production and go unnoticed. If you’re using a small display screen a speck in your shot might not be seen until you’re in the editing bay – and by that time it’s not an easy fix. Make sure you are regularly cleaning your lens on-set with a microfiber cloth or lens brush to avoid this problem.

4. White Balance

White balance can be easily adjusted in post if you are shooting in RAW. However, if you are shooting in a compressed format you can’t change the white balance as easily. Make sure your white balance is correct for your scene. If you don’t white balance correctly you can end up with inconsistent coloring.

The worst thing you could possibly do is set your white balance to auto. On most cameras, ‘auto’ tells the camera that it can change the color cast during recording – meaning your image can go from blue to orange in the same shot. This will make it even more difficult to fix in post. Save yourself the headache and check your white balance every time the lighting changes.

5. Formatting

Each time you put a new card into your camera it needs to be formatted. Most cameras can do this in-camera. If you shoot on large cards it can be easy to forget to format before beginning a shoot, but not doing so can mean you have multiple shoots or projects on the same card, a real mess in post.

Create a solid system for shooting/importing/formatting. Perhaps you format your cards immediately after you import them or right before you shoot on them again. Whatever your preference, stick to it to minimize confusion.

Are there any camera settings you easily forget? Share in the comments below.