Main Entry: suc·cess
Pronunciation: \suk-ses\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin successus, from succedere
  • an event that accomplishes its intended purpose;
  • an attainment that is successful
  • a state of prosperity or fame;
  • achiever: a person with a record of successes;
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Your key to success:

Success is usually measured in the details.

I've seen my share of incredible homes throughout my tenure with This Old House. What made them special was not necessarily because of their size, but the amount of details that went into each structure. These details made each home unique.

Here my 101 tips for success (so far)
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Rule #1: Have Fun!

When you smile, people think you either really enjoy what your doing OR, your up to something.
Either way, they'll want to be a part of it. If it's fun, you'll enjoy both the creative process as well as the outcome.


There are several questions you want to ask while planning your presentation. It doesn't matter if it's a documentary or a :30 second commercial. - Who's your audience? - Whats the message? These are far more important than how long the presentation should be.

A Variety O' Tips!

Create an Outline - When planning any project I always start by putting together an outline. When I'm working with a customer, I always have both of us shape the outline by making as many changes as we feel necessary before I do any shooting. This allows you to be more efficient once you get into the production phase of the project.

It's in the details. Details are all of the little things you add, that make a Big difference. It can be as simple as saying: "thank you" and" please" or as powerful as spending a little more time to make the subject "pop" from the background.
Always follow up with your contact person after the shot to see how everything turned out. Send them a thank you letter for having the opportunity to work together. I ask them NOT to be polite, is there anything we didn’t get that would have made the production better.

Determining Head Room during interviews-
How much is enough, how much is too much???
Each situation deserves it's own consideration.

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Head Room-Part II - other situations to brake from the "invisible hat"

Going for a dramatic response, use an extreme close up of the person.

Constantly Clean your lens. There’s nothing worse than to get back and have this beautiful footage and there’s a slight smudge in the middle of your shot, that wasn’t dark enough for you to see when you’re shooting, but there it is. The other problem is when you put this footage on your big High Def TV.

How to get a Steady Shot -everytime! Capturing a steady shot can be very challenging, especially when you don't have a tripod with you. Here are a couple of proven techniques and tools to use, to create the perfect shot, every time!

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Clean your lens continually throughout the day. Keep the lens cover on when not in use, because one scratch can become a costly repair.

Tripods vs. Monopods - When is the best time to use them.

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Staging: Keep exits & entrances clear at all times. Once your done setting up, make sure that the public can easily and safely get by and around you. * Set up, then Clean up. Repack all of your equipment bags after setting up. This makes for safer, more organized work area.

Be Prepared: That means, getting ready the night before the shoot. Test all of your equipment to make sure it works correctly.
     Pack your equipment
     Charge all Batteries
     Make sure you have enough/too-much Media - double the amount of media you will need.
     Get your cloths ready the night before.

Sports Faces & Situations:
- Be Ready for anything: This means having a a back up to your back up. Extra tape, extra batteries.
- Your camera should be rolling when your subject makes themselves available.
- Take notes of any and all game highlights for the editor, to ensure they use your best stuff!
Plan for worst possible weather. Have backups, rain coats and enough dry warm cloths to stay comfortable
under all conditions.
Use a 2 wheeler or handcart. It allows you to move several cases at a time and it’s cheaper than a chiropractic appt.
Take extra footage. As a cameraman I always like to “set the editor up.” This means, I want to provide them with more great shots than they can use in the presentation. Use any extra time before shooting to capture usuable shots. This includes: hands, reactions, B-Roll of the surrounding area, exteriors of the buildings, etc. Let your imagination have some fun, but always keep an eye on the clock and make sure you have plenty of spare tape and batteries.
Tip: Whenever working with a Producer, Director or other decision maker, involve them in the process every step of the way. Offer to show them shots that you’ve taken during a break. Describe the type of shots that you’re getting so that both of you are in agreement and there are no surprises when the editor gets the footage
Saying "please" and "thank you" go a long way
Become the great communicator. There is no more powerful tool in the business world than communication.

Prepare your survival kit: A survival Kit allows you to have the critical components to be successful right at your finger tips. Your kit should be a manageable sized sports bag with a shoulder strap.
Your Survival Kit should include:
     Spare Media at least one additional hour than your planning on shooting. Media is light. and extra charged
     Bottle of spring water - can be used to keep you hydrated and for cleaning lens and other equipment.
     Lens cleaner - this should be an alcohol based professional lens cleaner. In a pinch you can also use
          a bandana, soft cotton cloth or in an emergency, your shirt.
     Small flashlight (you can always use your cell phone if the battery in your flashlight goes down)
     Gaffers Tape - Blue painters tape - won't leave that tape residue that other tapes can leave behind
     Nutricious snack - fruit, granola bar or something that will keep you going.
     Each evening go through the bag to make sure you have everything you need for the following days shoot.
Place each item in same space or pocket every time you return it to your bag.
That way you can easily find it when you need it.

Tripod vs no Tripod: It all depends on the effect for that particular shot you are capturing.
When to use a tripod:
     Capturing a sporting event
     Sit down interviews
     Capturing a Theatrical Event.
Tripods can restrict camera movement. If your in an interview situation where the subject is talking about something that you know you won't be able to get footage or photos of, try going hand held with a enough movement to keep it compelling.

When to use a Monopod: Anytime your working on unlevel ground or shooting in a bleecher, ampitheater or theater venue and you need a steady shot. Make sure you practice with it prior to the event.

Use a throw rug or carpet to cover all cables on floor. Most public places have a carpet on location that you can borrow.
Always contact the Producer the night before a shoot to make sure you have a clear understanding of the style of shooting that they prefer.
Always practice with new equipment prior to going out on a shoot.
Tip: The best time to test the different ranges of shots you’ll use is before the interview starts. Doing it “live” can be risky. Use the pre-shooting time as an opportunity to set each shot. It's a subjective media, make sure every decision you make is one they want. Ask every Producer, Director and decision maker to show how tight and how loose they want each shot.

***Send us an email with tips that you've found to be useful.***