It’s that time of the year again, and our little darlings are singing quietly in their rooms, dancing through the hallways, and practising their lines. Yes, it is the school play and we are all, us parents, very excited about it. I remember my daughter’s first play and how I sobbed the whole way through. Pathetic, I know! Anyway, here are some brilliant tips on how to capture the school play on film so the moment is held forever.
1. Get there early
Last year I arrived at the school play on time. What a mistake. I ended up sitting right at the back and I got a few glances of my little angel dressed as a, well, angel. This year I am going to be arriving EARLY so I can get a seat right near the front and close to the stage. According to Panasonic’s Christmas Nativity Tips the best idea is to ask someone involved in the play where the best spot would be to see your child in action. They can also tell you if there are any special stage entrances or exits to look out for.
2. Down you go
If you can, try to film the play at their level. Our first year’s play was held in the school hall and so sitting on the floor right by them got some spectacular shots. When you’re down at their level you can see how big and exciting everything looks for them. The Christmas tree, the audience and the older kids.
3. Pay attention to the light
This is an easy thing to get wrong and there are few things worse than excitedly loading the video into the TV only to see a few indistinct, dark blurs bobbing about on stage. Panasonic recommends that you try to get the sun behind you if the play is during the day and to look at buying a camcorder that has a large, wide-aperture lens to get better quality shots.
4. Interview family members
It sounds daft but, in the editing stage, it adds a certain flair to the proceedings if you have all the family members attending the play add a few words. They can chat about how excited they are to see the play, what they thought of the play, how much they adore the little actor, and so on. When your child is all grown up you can all watch these moments and smile.
5. Choose the right mode on your camcorder
Again, this is not so much a rookie mistake as an easy one to make. Most camcorders nowdays have a ton of settings to help you get the perfect shot, but it can be easy to forget that you have it on “Amazing Adventure Day Mode” instead of “Catch Every Last Detail At Night Mode”. Read the manual to understand the various options and make sure you have a camcorder that offers a low f number – the lower the f.stop, the wider the aperture and the more light it allows in.
6. Leave the camera running
Honestly, editing can be tedious and yes, you can wonder why you spent 20 minute filming Aunt Bessie’s shoe, but life always happens just after you’ve hit the pause button. Keep the camera rolling and catch as much as you can so that you don’t miss a thing. You’ll thank yourself later.
7. Keep it steady
I really do recommend investing in tripod. Actually, I cannot suggest it strongly enough. When you are sitting on tiny, uncomfortable chairs with big sweaty parents on either side of you, your camera will shake and your film will make everyone motion sick. Grab a good spot, plonk down your tripod and relax.
8. Sound it out
The sound issue is one of the biggest. I have a two hour film of my school play where you cannot hear a thing and we just look like we are enacting some kind of weird ritual. Little voices echoing across the hall are hard to capture so try to use either a really good mic, or sit near the speaker system if the school has one installed.