The next time you shoot video, remember F.W.E.F.A.

Do you have a checklist that you use when you’re shooting video? If so, is it mental or written?

I have a basic mental checklist for when I’m about to shoot, and I use these letters to help me remember it: F.W.E.F.A. (I pronounce this ‘fweefuh”.)

What does it mean, and how does it help?

The first “F” is for “Framing”. This is the composition of the image. Before I do anything else, I pick the camera angle, adjust the tripod, and adjust the focal length. These things create the frame. This helps me slow down and make sure that I’m starting with a well-composed shot.

The “W” is for “White Balance”. This helps ensure I end up with good color in my imagery. I use a gray card for this, but you could also use a white card.

The “E” is for “Exposure”. Exposure refers to the shutter speed, gain, aperture, and lighting. I prefer to get a correct exposure in the field so I don’t have to adjust much in post.

The second “F” is for “Focus”. I set the focus after the exposure because changing the aperture can change the depth of field, throwing your image out of focus. This is why focus is one of the last things I check.

The “A” is for “Audio”. Usually I’m the only one checking audio, so I listen with headphones and watch the VU meter to make sure the audio levels are good and there’s no clipping.

Are there more things I could check? Sure. But these fundamentals help me get a good image with good audio. A good clean image is a great place to start.

  • Framing
  • White Balance
  • Exposure
  • Focus
  • Audio

Remember F.W.E.F.A. the next time you’re shooting, and maybe it will reduce the chance you end up with video that has no audio.

What else do you do? What would you add to the checklist? Let me know in the comments…

10 thoughts on “The next time you shoot video, remember F.W.E.F.A.

  1. How about an ‘M’ for media. Make sure there’s space on the cards/tape, etc.

    I’ve been meaning to make up a before-I-leave-home checklist. The most forgotten item: the tripod plate. Sometimes I leave it attached to the camera I’m NOT taking. Whoops.

  2. Tim — My pleasure. I’m glad you found this helpful… :-)

    Tom — Good suggestion. Most video shooters I know have a “Before-I-Leave-Home” checklist. It’s great to have whether you’re shooting for fun or shooting professionally. In fact, I’ve found that the more gear I have to bring with me, the more likely it is that I forget something. I haven’t personally had problems forgetting the tripod plate, but it’s happened several times where I’ve found myself one grip head short.

    Heh. One grip head short. That sounds like a title for another article. :-)

    Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Wide shots – establishing exteriors, interiors
    Medium shots
    Close ups
    Room tone
    Slow moves (at 60fps) with the subject looking at the camera (depends on the kind of piece), with shallow depth of field. Allows editing with voice over of the interviewee without the interviewee talking. Requires strong eye contact and presence to work well.

    All of this gives options in editing.

    Love the list!

  4. IS the shoot in 16:9 or 4:3? Will an audio line be available from an audio console? Are multiple cameras required? I have done a lot of events and this is stuff I am mindful of prior to…

  5. Izzy,
    This is a great list. But it seems like it is intended for the kind of “interview” videos you are producing. Something with some set-up time.

    I’m wondering what an equivalent list could be for more impromptu shooting, such as when you are out somewhere with the kids capturing an event.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Brad

  6. hi izzy

    Very good material you have. I am still working with an old (borrowed)cam – i never thought about white balancing – used to leave that to the camera(auto) until i noticed (when shooting) the contrast would change suddenly when something bright emerges in the scene. The same thing applies to the focus. So when is it ok to use auto white balance/ focus?

    thanks again

    mwaura

  7. Paul — Excellent list. I have a similar list for getting the shots I need. Hmm, I’ll have to brainstorm an acronym for that too…

    Mark — For live events, these are definitely good things to remember.

    Brad — Even for family video I use the same main concepts. I still frame the image, white balance, set the exposure, focus, and record audio. There’s no difference. I took my kids to a dinosaur museum the other day, and I shot video using the same concepts. It works there too.

    Mwaura — it sounds like you’re mixing up White Balance and Auto Exposure. White balance is a different concept… You should check out my video no mixing light sources here:
    http://www.izzyvideo.com/videos/mixed-light-sources/

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