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Old April 21 2012, 02:47 PM   #196
USS Intrepid
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I read it to, funnily enough. Not saying I remember everything, but I do read it.
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Old April 22 2012, 08:50 AM   #197
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Kelso wrote: View Post
Melonpool wrote: View Post
I read it every time it updates.
So do I. And I've easily reread this thread from the beginning more times than any other TBBS thread since I've been here.
Ditto. Everytime I get the email that this thread has been updated, nine times out of ten when I see its Maurice replying, I save that email (which includes the text of the post) because I just know it will come in handy.

Maurice, again, thank you so much for sharing with us the benefit of your experience and obvious wealth of knowledge. It is greatly appreciated.
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Old April 22 2012, 09:48 AM   #198
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I look forward to the continuing episodes of the fan filmmaker's threads.
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Old April 22 2012, 10:06 PM   #199
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice wrote: View Post
AUDIO SLATING THE SCENE NUMBER

When the 2nd A.C./Slate Loader slates a sound shot, they call out the audio slate. For a shot where the scene number is appended with a letter, they typically call out the letter as a word starting with that letter. Most commonly, it's in the form of the NATO phonetic alphabet for letters A through H, ergo scene 10F is called out as "Scene 10 Foxtrot".
  • A Alpha
  • B Bravo
  • C Charlie
  • D Delta
  • E Echo
  • F Foxtrot
  • G Golf
  • H Hotel
  • I (unused)
I and O are typically not used because they can look like numbers on the slate...
Alchemist wrote to me to point out the slating conventions in Trek's 3rd season, in which the audio slates are using a different phonetic alphabet than the NATO one. I thought it was worth mentioning this because while it's fairly common to use the NATO phonetic alphabet, it's not a rule.

Here's some of what they used on Trek.
  • Apples
  • Baker
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Franklin
You can hear slates and takes for "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" and "Turnabout Intruder" at this website (link).

Also, hearing these slates, you'll notice an additional variation on slating, in which the scene and take numbers are read off without the words Scene and Take, as in "35 Apples, seven" instead of "Scene 35 Apples, take seven".

And it's always fun to watch Geraldine Brezca slate a movie, as she's very creative in her on-the-fly phonetic alphabets (here in Inglourious Basterds):



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Last edited by Maurice; April 23 2012 at 08:47 PM.
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Old April 23 2012, 09:40 AM   #200
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Hey, Maurice, those snippets of production audio from the original series are so cool. Nice find!
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Old May 24 2012, 11:08 PM   #201
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I don't know how many of you will find this interesting, but tomorrow (Friday May 25th) I'm going to be doing a short pickup shoot for a short film. For those who are curious about the process, I think I'd share some of the emails and our Call Sheet as a reference. I'm gonna SPOILER CODE the bulk of this message for those who aren't so interested in how sausage is made.


End of sausage making.
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Old May 25 2012, 09:35 PM   #202
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Thanks for posting! That will definitely aide me as I ramp up to shooting. Much more professional and easy to wade through than my usual ramblings!
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Old May 26 2012, 03:32 AM   #203
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Melonpool wrote: View Post
Thanks for posting! That will definitely aide me as I ramp up to shooting. Much more professional and easy to wade through than my usual ramblings!
Thanks. I hope things I post here are useful to people, so it's good to know when they are.

Speaking of the shoot referenced in those "sausage making" emails, we successfully wrapped our pickup and got all the shots on the "must have" list and "reset to one" the stage at the agreed-upon time. Whew!

Here are a few pictures I snapped before we rolled (I insist that all cell phones be OFF during shooting, so no pix were taken with phones while we were rolling).



Lighting check

Here my A.D. stands in for the actress (still in makeup) while we set the lights. If you've never worked with a professional monitor, the box to the lower right displays a histogram which allows us to see how even the lighting on the greenscreen is. You can see the "hole" in the middle of the histogram where the stand-in is and the light values are lower.



"Mr. DeMolyneaux, I'm ready for my closeup!"

Actress Heather Sherpardson in full makeup takes a moment in one of the director's chairs in front of the greenscreen before we do final checks. The strange makeup is because the film we're making is literally a black and white comic book, and every piece of scenery is a drawing.



Quiet on set! Sound check! Eye-light!

Finally, here we are moments from the first take. There are a few things happening here. First, Sound Recordist Phillip Foster is checking levels as Heather runs some lines. Notice the hot pink "T" of tape that is the actor's "mark" on the floor.

The hand you're seeing to the left is being used to help aim a tiny light that isn't for illumination but to try to get a "glint" off the actress's eye when she turns into shadow. The light is barn-doored down to almost a point, and focused on the hand, which is slowly moved towards the actress while the grip adjusts the light to follow (otherwise, it's hard to figure out where it's pointing).

About the lighting:
  • The flat black boxes at the top center and left and right are Kino Flo 4-bank florescent light boxes—each with four tubes—that are the light used to illuminate the screen.
  • The diffused light to the upper left is stage lamp used to backlight/rimlight the hair and shoulder to camera left.
  • The big glow to the right are two Parabeam 400 light boxes (one above the other) shining through a large piece of diffusion and supply the primary light source (as we are aiming for heavy shadows).
We were only reshooting Heather's closeups because the lighting on the original shots wasn't quite right, and my writing/producing partner and I wrote new lines for her after viewing the assembled cut of the film and deciding we wanted to give her more "zingers". This shoot killed two birds with one stone.

Hope that was instructive.


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Last edited by Maurice; May 26 2012 at 09:56 AM.
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Old May 26 2012, 05:15 PM   #204
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Sweet! Glad to see this final bit filmed (I had a small part in the project), but, as always, some awesome tips for other filmmakers.
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Old May 26 2012, 09:46 PM   #205
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

^^^Thanks, Middy. We missed having the full crew there this time.

Following up on the above, here are two photos taken on set that illustrate our setup.





The first thing you probably notice is now crowded everything is. That's pretty typical when shooting closeups and tight angles. You often have to carefully weave your way between C-stands and other gear to get in near the talent. This is why you put SANDBAGS (like these) on the bases of all the equipment: to prevent a bump from starting a domino cascade of falling equipment and/or things hitting people.

Oh, I'm the schmuck in the rocking black and white fedora.

Finally, here's a frame from yesterday's "Martini shot" (because the next shot is in a glass ). It doesn't matter that some of the equipment is in shot because those will be cropped out with a garbage matte. The green merely has to be behind the items in the shot: in this case the actress, props and faux bartop.


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Old June 7 2012, 09:54 PM   #206
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

VERTICAL VIDEO SYNDROME (VVS)



On the lighter side of cinematography...
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Old June 7 2012, 11:09 PM   #207
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer



So true.
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Old June 8 2012, 11:04 PM   #208
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I am cackling maniacally. Okay, I'm done. Now I'm passing that on for folks in my group to enjoy.

Thanks, Maurice!
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Old July 15 2012, 11:34 AM   #209
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I've had some discussions recently with some fan fimmakers about some of the "rules" I've mentioned in this thread. One that keeps coming up is The Line, so I thought I'd revisit this, using something more contemporary than the original Star Trek to illustrate it.
The Line, Part 2

To recap, from the original example (full post LINK here)

Maurice wrote: View Post
Let's get on to some cinematography basics, starting with...
THE LINE

In short The Line is an imaginary line you draw between two players in a scene, and which extends through them.


Let's say you shot the above scene. You've established that Kirk is to screen left of Sevrin, and must look to screen right to face him. If Sevrin faces Kirk, he must face screen left. Now, if you wanted a closeup of Kirk without Sevrin in the frame, you'd have to stay on the same side of The Line, so that Kirk's eyeline still goes to the right side of the frame.

In all the camera positions to this side of the line, Kirk's screen facing is always to the right, even if we looked over his shoulder or over Sevrin's shoulder
The basic rule of The Line is that once you establish it, you cannot cross it. This is because The Line establishes direction of looks, movement and relative positions in relationship to the camera. It makes it possible to maintain a sense of screen direction and where things are even when you change setups and angles.
In the previous post I used some frames from "The Way to Eden" to illustrate the rule, and what steps and editor would take to ensure it was followed. But modern TV shows and films move the camera around a lot more than than in the 60s, so you might think they're looser about such rules. Let's see...



In the preceding and following frames, notice that The Line that's set up in this scene is between Kirk and Spock, so that any time Kirk looks at Spock his gaze is to camera right (right side of the frame), and any look from Spock to Kirk is to camera left. The camera goes to various distances and framings, but it DOES NOT cross The Line.









Notice also that Pike's eyelines re Kirk and Spock are not similarly consistent: that's because in this context we as viewers see him only in terms of his relationship to Kirk and Spock, who are the focus.


Next, we see something new, because Kirk is talking to Pike, and a new Line is drawn between them, but notice that the framing typically would keep Kirk's eyeline to Spock the same as before. The only time this is broken is when the camera goes behind Kirk to see Pike, but it still obeys the new Pike to Kirk Line. This isn't a problem because Spock and Kirk aren't interacting AND we know where he is when off-camera because we've previously seen his relationship to Kirk and Pike.












Next, Pike turns to hear Uhura, and this a third Line is established between THEM, with Pike's eyeline to camera left and Uhura's to camera right. Technically, we've crossed the Kirk Spock Line here, except that the focus now has shifted off Kirk and Spock to Pike and Uhura.





Finally, when the conversation jumps back in close with Spock and Kirk addressing Pike, the camera pops back to obey the first Line, with Kirk facing camera right and Spock left.



Now, the thing about The Line is it's not permanent. You can draw a new line via a camera move (like dollying, or jumping way back to reveal the character relationships from a new angle) and/or having characters physically move.

If all that seems confusing, let me try to summarize why staying to one side of the The Line works:

EYELINES IN OPPOSITION
Simply put, when you stay on one side of The Line the eyelines of any two characters will always be in opposition when they face. This is what you see in the real world when you see two people looking at each other. When you cross The Line and the eyelines are not opposed then the characters do not appear to be looking at each other.

So, at it's core this isn't a cinema RULE as much as it's cinema adapted to take advantage of how we perceive cues in the real world.

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Last edited by Maurice; July 15 2012 at 11:44 AM.
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Old July 15 2012, 03:38 PM   #210
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Another thing here is that everyone is visible in the frame at all times. Here you could even cross the line without causing too much confusion, as the people facing each other would still all be visible in the frame.



But when you film dialogue in a way where you see only one character at a time inside the frame, then the line becomes even more important.



And notice how they lead you from one character to the next by letting the characters turn their eyes to them before they make the cut.
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