Brisbane Freelance Videographer Shoots Documentary in One Day

It's 5.30am when my alarm sounds. Within seconds my mind was going over a mental checklist of all the video gear I would need this day. With 6 interviews and a wide variety of quickfire B-roll scenarios to film across three different locations in Brisbane, this Freelance Videographer was good to go.

The was the latest video project assigned to me by the good folks at Websedge - Global Leaders in Conference TV. I have shot several short documentaries for Websedge, all of which have been hard work but loads of fun. From interviewing Professors about Quantum theory to filming fruit pickers on farmlands, these freelance cameraman projects can be challenging but they are always interesting.

This particular video project was about how the University of Queensland and the Queensland Police Service work in partnership to advance evidence based policing practice and policy.

UQ and QPS worked together to conduct the world’s first randomized field trial that tested the effectiveness of using procedural justice dialogue to improve police-citizen relations and enhance citizen perceptions of legitimacy. 

The Queensland Community Engagement Trial (QCET) found that when police engage citizens using language that conveys trustworthy motives, neutrality in decision making, trust, dignity and respect, citizens are less likely to report they would drink and drive in the future, more willing to comply with directives, are more satisfied with police and more willing to cooperate.

Police work is complex and challenging, and nowhere is this more exemplified than in the diverse range work the Queensland Police Service, in a state almost three times the size of Texas. With a focus on ethical practice based on evidence, QPS actively collaborate with the University of Queensland on broadening this evidence base.

Police work is complex and challenging, and nowhere is this more exemplified than in the diverse range work the Queensland Police Service, in a state almost three times the size of Texas. With a focus on ethical practice based on evidence, QPS actively collaborate with the University of Queensland on broadening this evidence base.

The resulting video production will be distributed by IACP TV, the channel dedicated to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, for online viewing and to be screened at their 2015 annual conference in the US.

One thing that perhaps is more enjoyable than shooting a video like this is seeing how another video editor has interpreted the footage and edited into a final production. Given that I typically shoot for my own edits, it was a real joy (and perhaps relief) to see how the final video came together. 

Check it out below!

Another one of my projects for Websedge - Global Leaders in Conference TV. I have shot several short documentaries for Websedge, all of which have been loads of fun. This video project was about how the University of Queensland and the Queensland Police Service work in partnership to advance evidence based policing practice and policy.

'Run & Gun' 

The key to a successful video shoot is a well planned and realistic production schedule. This can take a lot of organization between many different people. Plus there can be numerous permissions that need to be sought with regards to access to buildings and talent release forms.

Thankfully, all pre-production planning was done before the job was officially passed on to me, albeit the evening before production day! My first interview was scheduled for 8am with the Commissioner of Police at Roma St in Brisbane city.

Ian Stewart, Commissioner of Police, Queensland Police Service.

Ian Stewart, Commissioner of Police, Queensland Police Service.

It was awesome to meet the Commissioner in his office but I also had to make sure I setup my camera and audio quick smart so we could shoot the interview and gather B-roll in just 30 minutes. 

I love these 'run & gun' style video shoots. While it's always nice to have time to setup and prepare your scenes, I do really enjoy the challenge of having to think on your feet and make fast decisions about what looks good and how to capture the best sound (indoors, outdoors etc).

Often times I am working as a one-man-band freelance videographer, however this time I had the good fortune of working alongside Professor Lorraine Mazerolle who conducted interviews and shared lunch with me (thanks Lorraine!).

Shoot Plenty of B-Roll

After each interview it is always important to shoot plenty of miscellaneous B-roll or cut-away footage. This footage can then be used on top of the interview to help visually support what is being said. Sometimes you don't have a lot to work with so you really have to be imaginative. Typical shots might include talking on the phone, consulting with others or simply walking around.

The first scenario to be filmed on location at the Police Academy was a random breath testing operation. We had several cars lined up with a team of Police ready to role play for my cameras.

The first scenario to be filmed on location at the Police Academy was a random breath testing operation. We had several cars lined up with a team of Police ready to role play for my cameras.

B-roll can be relatively generic and straight forward however this project required some very specific B-roll to be filmed on location at the Police Academy.

Random breath testing and police arriving at a rowdy house party were the two scenarios I had to shoot at the end of a long day. It was getting late in the afternoon and I was fast running out of light so it was all systems go!

This was a fantastic experience and truly run & gun scenario in that I had to create the shots and direct all the talent to perform the various tasks which I was learning about on the fly.

I switched between my Panasonic GH4 mounted on a DJI Ronin-M and my Canon 5D mk3 for close ups and detail shots. Everybody was so professional to work with and accommodating as I needed some tasks to be performed multiple times as I shot from different angles. I like to shoot plenty of B-roll to ensure the editor has enough to tell the story.

By the time we got to shooting the fight at the house party, the sun had set and all I had to work with were the porch lights. We brought in a couple cars and turned on the headlights to provide additional light which actually added some drama to the scenes involving Police consultation.

By the time we got to shooting the fight at the house party, the sun had set and all I had to work with were the porch lights. We brought in a couple cars and turned on the headlights to provide additional light which actually added some drama to the scenes involving Police consultation.

The final scene for the day was a staged fight at a house party. The attending Police officers go through a 4 step procedural justice process i.e. treating people with dignity and respect, conveying trustworthy motives, getting the victim and offender to have a voice in the decision making process and being neutral in the decision making. The goal of this scene was to explicitly show the use of procedural justice dialogue to diffuse the volatile situation.

Video Production - Lessons Learned on the Day

Interview with PhD Candidate, Mathematics & Criminology, Jenna Thompson.

Interview with PhD Candidate, Mathematics & Criminology, Jenna Thompson.

Overall, production on the day went really well. I was super happy with the look of the interviews, particularly those featuring Jenna Thompson and Susann Wiedlitzka.

I shot those interviews with my Canon 5D mk3 (24-70mm II) fitted with a density filter so I could stop down and get a nice, shallow depth of field.

When shooting outdoor interviews like these, it is worth taking a little extra time to setup with lapel mics taped under clothing to remove wind noise and use lens filters to obtain a soft background focus. We got real lucky with these outdoor interviews as it was a cloudy day and we didn't have to worry about strong shadows.

But perhaps the biggest lesson learned on the day for me was to make sure that next time I shoot in low light situations to ensure that I switch to the highest quality recording format available on the camera. This will give the editor more room to adjust the shadows and hopefully less noise to be removed. Ideally, I should have put my Panasonic GH4 into UltraHD format when the sun set.

Still, the results are acceptable and the video was a success. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved on a job well done!