Shooting concrete – day one on location

I always find shooting video nerve-racking. There is always a limited window of opportunity to get the shot right. At least when shooting videos of materials exploding, there are no worries about forgetting lines. But in the case of creating Stuff Failure videos, the emphasis is firmly on capturing the material failure mode clearly and cutting out all extraneous stuff in the shot.

Materials testing laboratories are often strewn with equipment so getting an uncluttered frame takes some planning. We shoot using high-speed video which requires very well lit specimens. But bright lights come with their own problems, not least of all lighting up the thing that you don’t want lit up in the shot. Then there is the problem of knowing where the material failure is going to occur, and therefore where the focus of the frame should be.

On the first day of shooting we were immediately presented with the challenge of the testing rig obscuring sight of the supports for the simply-supported-beam tests. Seeing the supports is critical to understanding the behaviour of the beam but unfortunately that was not possible at the camera angle that we were shooting at. Whilst the four tests behaved as expected I am concerned that we won’t get the level of clarity of shot that we would like. It is frustrating, but at the same time, we all know it is part of the developmental process.

On a more positive note, the high-speed footage of the concrete compression tests was a great success – the sudden failure of the grout cylinder was quite frightening, and the footage quite spectacular.