Documentary – A Puppy Reunion

Oh how long it’s been since I’ve made a post.

There isn’t much to say. In the last few months I produced and organized a documentary with a fellow classmate. It is online and I will be posting it on the site shortly. Since that documentary,  I decided to create an entire one on my own using my new equipment.

What I used to film it:

– Panasonic Lumix DMC HG3

– Rode Microphone Boom

That’s really about it.

The documentary is about a family – my family – and a puppy reunion. After adopting one dog, Max, we took in his sister,  Skye. Max is such a well behaved dog with no aggression or overly hyper hormones,  that we decided not to chop off his balls. His sister had never been spayed either. We tried to get her fixed but unfortunately she went into heat within a couple of days of being around Max. Despite our best efforts, Max impregnated Skye. There was never any confirmation that she had been pregnant, the vet was convinced that she wasn’t. How could you feel the uterus and determine a dog isn’t pregnant when she actually is? When the dogs uterus with the puppies, is in her rib cage.

Needless to say we were all excited, shocked,  and overwhelmed as we welcomed all 7 puppies into the world. The weeks feel like a blur now filled with no sleep, stress, tension, and chaos. We all look back on the experience as a wonderful thing to have happened. We’re all very glad we were able to share in it and help raise these puppies, find them good homes, and still keep in touch with the owners. However, none of us ever want to go through it again.

So in light of making sure all the pups are doing well and the owners are having no problems, we have been scheduling a yearly reunion on, or close to, the puppies birthday. I decided this year, the second reunion, that I would record it and turn it into a documentary. I also borrowed photos from my brother and a fellow owner who is also my brothers friend.

The process went surprisingly well. There were some shots that turned out great, others that could have been better, and some that I wish I could’ve gotten but I wasn’t in the right place in time. It happens when everything is happening at once.

Overall the filming went pretty well. I got lots of footage for an 8-10 minute documentary. It was a balancing act between getting the shots I knew I needed, with lots of great ones to really show the puppies personalities and what they’re like, and socializing at the same time. I did much less socializing this year to say the least.

Everyone was very good about me filming too. It made the whole thing a lot easier.

When I first edited the documentary together, I hadn’t done any interviews. I wanted to try to do everything with just information in between the different acts. I realized how boring it is and that it didn’t really work. I knew my family wouldn’t sit down to talk about it because they don’t like being on camera – myself included – so I got my boyfriend who had been there that day and had him answer some questions. I did the other part to fill in the areas I didn’t have him talk about and to provide some background information on the whole excursion.

The biggest issue I faced while filming was lighting issues. I don’t have a real lighting kit, and the lighting isn’t great in my house. Especially the room I did the filming in. I chose it because it provided the best background without being a white wall. It also provided less background noise. On the screen of the camera,  the video didn’t look bad. It didn’t look perfect or great, but it didn’t look bad. When I transferred it onto my laptop, it was much darker than I thought it had been. If I had had the time, I would’ve re-shot the interviews, but I had a job interview the next day and I still had a lot of work to do in editing. So I did my best with what I had. Using Final Cut Pro I lightened the video as much as possible. I didn’t do any huge effects, but just by using some colour correction options I was able to make it better than it was.

Now I did run into some problems. This was my first time shooting on a mirrorless slr, and I had never edited footage from it before. I was first put under the impression that I would be able to convert all the footage post edit to pro res and it would look quite good. Unfortunately I couldn’t do that. Every time I tried, I ran into horrible video quality. I learned quickly that I have to convert all the footage before I put it into Final Cut. Lesson learned the very, very hard way. I did what I could but the video quality didn’t turn out as good as the raw footage. I ended up having to convert the video to a quick time file. Trying to do anything else and there would be graininess and a bit of blurriness, or worse. Let’s just say I will NOT be making that mistake again.

Anyway, here is the final product. It’s not great quality full screen but it was the best I could do.


About rachelsparling

I'm a writer working on a manuscript for a novel. I love to write and I've been doing it for 17 years. Through several story ideas I have figured out what works and what doesn't, and I've learned a lot about myself and my writing style. I love to read and escape to many different worlds. I've also learned a lot about good writing and bad writing through both reading a lot and acquiring an education in English literature, and becoming an ESL teacher. I enjoy filming and photographing all sorts of things and putting together short documentaries and videos. I love my camera.
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