...little bit of video for a website that I'm working on. The job will be for a ballet studio...One (or maybe a few) short 30-45 second clips showing the dance studio, and some classrooms, and what it's like...
Two "dancer profiles" featuring interviews, some shots of them warming up and performing, etc. Maybe 1-2 minutes each....I have a somewhat cheapy LED video light as well....I think a budget of $1500 would be about the max I should spend....what, if any of things things are necessary/would help my video look more professional? Is there anything else that's important that I forgot? Is there anything on this list you wouldn't recommend, or would recommend something else?
I do video documentary production using some of this equipment. Comments:
Your stills background is a plus. Stanley Kubrick started as a still photographer, and his skills in composition and lighting helped in cinematography.
Accept the first pieces you do won't be as good as you want. It will be a learning experience.
There are a few simple techniques which can help to set your material apart from humdrum stuff. This by itself won't make it great -- that's up to your artistic ability. However these technical methods (some of which you already know) can inject some polish and pizzazz. They inform the viewer (whether they understand it or not) this wasn't shot by a kid with a camcorder.
(a) Use rack focus where reasonable: http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/jbutler/clips/CSI20090226qq00_10_19qq_MPEG-SC.mp4/view
You don't need a follow focus for this, although it can help. A variation is a "focus reveal" where you fade into sharp focus, often used while a narrator is talking.
(b) In editing, use J-cuts (audio advance cut) and L-cuts (video advance cuts): http://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/239/j-cuts-and-l-cuts
(c) Use two-camera shots for interviews. Cut between them in post. Don't use the same framing on each camera.
(d) For interviews make sure you frame correctly, with the top border at top of subject's head, and with "look space" (open space in front of their face). In general main interview camera should be a 5 o'clock or 7 o'clock position. The b-camera can be more offset L/R or high/low, or even be a roving hand-held camera. If hand held you generally want an optically stabilized lens like the 24-105 or similar.
(e) Tip for informal stand-up interviews: get a partner to conceal a wireless lav mic in a clipboard while interviewing subject, and you stay back with the 70-200 f/2.8 at 200mm. Note this is NOT a clandestine interview -- the subject knows you're there and the mic is there. However by keeping the camera out of their "personal space" and the mic not obvious, it produces more natural, conversational results. Shooting at f/2.8 also helps blur out background distractions.
(f) Generally use a wireless lav mic for interviews. A hand-operated shotgun mic on a boom is better in some cases, but takes another person to run it.
(g) Monitor with earphones your main audio. It is much easier to get the audio right then spending hours with a spectral editor trying to clean it up in post.
(h) Use your GoPro creatively: get some 120 fps shots for slow motion of dancers. GoPro can also take time-lapse stills for building a sequence in Premiere Pro:
(i) Get plenty of b-roll shots: close-up of hands lacing up ballerina slippers, close-up of feet walking across floor, high angle shots from rafters looking down at dancers, shots of dancers entering studio, establishing shots of studio exterior, etc.
(j) Use shallow depth of field extensively, where appropriate. E.g, out-of-focus dancers in background, and subject interview in foreground. You can also rack focus from one to the other.
(k) Get a cheap black background and consider shooting interviews against that. This is easy and looks professional. However it must be used cohesively with the other material, otherwise the transition to on-scene interviews and black backround interviews is jolting:
(l) Consider using three-point lighting for formal interviews, or two-point bolstered with natural light. Be cautious about mixed lighting temperatures that are difficult to fix in post:
Other comments and suggestions:
Shoot video in manual mode -- not aperture priority or programmed -- with AUTO ISO on. Make sure shutter speed is 2x the frame rate, e.g, 1/60th for 1080p/30. This follows the "180 degree shutter rule" and avoids odd, strobing effects: http://tylerginter.com/post/11480534977/180-degree-shutter-learn-it-live-it-love-it
If scene is too bright for f/2.8 (because ISO won't go low enough), use a neutral density filter. Don't balance the exposure by increasing shutter speed.
Practice, practice, practice before the actual shot. DSLRs are complicated to operate for video. You don't want to fiddle around with camera modes, cables and quick-release fittings in the field. This should be second nature before going. E.g, know how to adjust audio volume level on both cameras -- while shooting and before shooting. The 5D3 is particularly tricky because the controls behave differently when shooting video vs in standby.
Before leaving home, compose a rough "shot list" of shots you want. Hand-draw storyboards (stick figures perfectly OK). Don't wait until you're on set to begin the creative process. Of course you can deviate from your shot list as required, but do as much creative brainstorming beforehand. If possible visit the site beforehand to get ideas.
Suggestions about other hardware you mentioned:
(1) Rhino slider: I use a Kessler Stealth slider: http://www.kesslercrane.com/stealth-s/141.htm
Sliders are good but one more thing you have to manage. It's nice to have one that does vertical slides, and has adjustable tension.
(4) Tripod head: I use the Manfrotto 504HD head and 546B tripod. The 502 is probably OK for your purposes.
(5) Atmos Ninja 2: I would not get this; it's a great product but you don't need it for this project and it won't add significant value, yet will inject production complexity. On your limited budget there are other items with greater cost/benefit ratio.
(7) Zacuto Z-Finder: I use the Z-Finder Pro EVF. It's expensive but gives focus peaking, exposure zebras, facilitates low and high angle shots, eyecup adds a 3rd contact point to help stabilize hand-held shots. Also doubles as a small field monitor. It also has built-in adjustable optical diopter. I personally prefer it over a field monitor, although I've used both. http://www.zacuto.com/zfinderevf