Preparing for the Shoot
As many shoppers soon discover, covertly shooting video is more than just wearing a secret camera. There are many steps for producing good video shops that need to happen before even leaving one’s house. A few are covered below.
Making and checking a list of what you need to bring on each shoot can save a lot of time and frustration down the line. It might seem like the obvious thing to do, but when getting ready for a shoot, there are a lot of details to remember, and leaving out an item or a back-up for that item can result in a lost shop or the need to reshoot. See also this article from a previous issue of Mystery Shopper Magazine, “How to Protect Your Video Equipment,”
Make sure that you bring back-up items. Again, this might seem obvious, but forgetting a back-up item can create problems. Back-up items include batteries, SD cards and a second recorder and camera if available. Also advisable is including strong tape and wide rubber bands to secure a loose camera or connections.
A video trainer with a MSC recommended using 4GB or 8GB SD cards, if available, or 16GB cards with a quality rating of 10. (The rating might be hard to see on the card, but check the upper right corner for a 10 in a circle.) Anything else might cause a unit to freeze or corrupt the file.
Before leaving for an assignment, check that the SD card is formatted and clean (no other recordings on it), that the camera is fully charged and that all the connections are tight. The trainer recommended using a rubber band such as could be found around broccoli in a store to secure the camera adaptor plug in the DVR.
Adjusting the Camera
The trainer recommended that women position their camera at breast level and men at pocket level. For those needing help with adjusting their button cameras, several video shopping experts have praised a, seamstress, Kathy Hart, for her ability to alter shirts for the best button cam advantage, often creating a velcro-type pocket that positions the camera to get the best aim and shot. Kathy can be contacted at 10104 Darling St, Raleigh, NC, 27613, 919-606-8984, and at Kathy@instant-replays.net.
Once your camera is on you, check it in a mirror to see if the angle of the camera is correct. Sometimes, with movement, the camera can shift and not be facing forward. If you’re having trouble keeping the camera still, the trainer suggested placing a make-up sponge behind it for support. The trainer also advised not placing the microphone under two layers of clothing, as that will mute the sound of the shopper’s target.
Always be aware of dry air conditions. Static electricity resulting from friction between body and clothing can interfere with recording. “One of our shoppers learned the hard way,” said the trainer. “She uses lotion now.” Static spray will also work, just remember not to spray towards the camera lens. Also be careful not to wear light materials that can cause a whooshing noise, as that can be picked up on the recording as well.
Finally, remember before you go out to practice, practice, practice. If you’re going to the store, put the camera on. If you’re just walking around the house, put the camera on. “Natural body movements are the biggest thing,” said a scheduler for an MSC video shopping division. “You can do and say anything you want, but if you look like a robot, you’re going to be spotted. Where and how you stand, how you move, how you face your subject and how you turn away are important during a video shoot.”