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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old September 16 2013, 04:52 AM   #271
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

scienceguy wrote: View Post
It's relatively easy to recruit experienced, talented and attractive actors for a serious production. Some will work for free if they believe in the project.
I'd agree with that. Most of the actors I've used in my film work all have previous experience, training, or degrees in drama. Many actors are hungry to have roles which are substantial and/or give them something to add to their reels, even if your budget and compensation are effectively zero.
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Old October 13 2013, 06:50 AM   #272
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Time to cover a "back to basics" lesson...

CINEMATOGRAPHY 101: BFLATS

As I've said in the past, I'm a big believer in checklists on set. They start off helping make sure that you don't forget anything, and eventually the steps become second nature, and they also force you to take a moment and consider each step and make sure it's done right before moving on to the next one. Under the pressure and distractions of a shoot this can be a lifesaver.

A while back my friend Gil Poznanski told me about a cameraman's mnemonic he learned at the School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) at UCLA, which they called BFLATS. [EDIT] This list was really intended for film shooting, which does not include the white balance and color temperature settings common in digital video.

B - Battery
F - Focus
L - Level
A - Aperture
T - Tachometer
S - Shutter Angle/Speed

BFLATS - Before you shoot
Now, a lot of beginners are shooting on "auto" on their cameras, so BFLATS may not seem practical, but if you want the best looking film it's worth seeing how much manual control you have and learn how to use the available features on your camera.

I'll drill down a bit into each item on this.
Battery
Basically, is there enough charge so you won't run out? [EDIT] And do you have other batteries charged/charging?

Focus
Not just is the shot in focus, but if you need to manually rack the focus during a shot (not possible with many consumer grade cameras), have you worked out the focus and marked the points so that you can deftly change the focus when needed.

Level
Most good tripod heads have levels built into them. Unless you're dutching (tilting) the shot deliberately you'll probably want to have the camera level. It's important for the tripod to be "on the bubble" all the way around, especially when panning (this does not affect "tilt").

Aperture
Your camera may or may not allow you to set this, but it's the size of the opening through which light passes. Aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’. The larger the aperture the shallower the depth of field, and the smaller the aperture the greater depth of field (meaning how much of the image can be in focus at once). Counter-intuitively, the smaller the number, the bigger the aperture, so an f-stop of f/4 is much much larger than f/22.

Tachometer (aka ISO)
Refers to film speed (sensitivity to light), but in digital ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. So, just as 100 speed film is good for general purposes but not so good in low light, where 400 speed film is much better in darker situations. If your camera allows you to control this, it may save your bacon in low light situations (combined with the Shutter Speed setting).

Shutter Angle/Speed
This relates to how long the shutter is open and exposing a frame. The bigger the number, the longer the exposure. Longer exposures mean more blur on moving objects, and shorter exposures mean a more staccato look.
The ATS items have to be considered together. To get more depth of field (smaller Aperture) will require more light to get the same exposure level, meaning you'll want to consider the ISO and Shutter Speed with each adjustment.

There are some additional items I might add to such a checklist, but I'll end this post here for now and see what comments/questions come up.
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Last edited by Maurice; October 13 2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: To fix typos and clarify a couple of points.
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Old October 13 2013, 08:19 AM   #273
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice wrote: View Post
Now, a lot of beginners are shooting on "auto" on their cameras,
Eek. When I first got a camera that could shoot HD I made sure it was one that had completely manual options.

Battery
Basically, is there enough charge so you won't run out?
I'd also add: Are there enough spare batteries?

Something not mentioned on the checklist is white balance which needs to be set correctly or else you'll have a hard time trying to fix it in post.
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Old October 13 2013, 08:50 AM   #274
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maybe I wasn't clear (I'll edit it) but the source for BFLATS was for film (hence Shutter Angle), and film doesn't require white balancing or color temperature. Maybe BFLATS for digital video should include a second T (BFLATTS?) for Temperature/White Balance.

A few years ago I made a mistake and forgot to switch the camera from a temperature correct for shooting under tungsten lights when shooting outdoors and the resulting shots were weirdly blue. That's an error I won't make again!
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Old October 13 2013, 10:23 AM   #275
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

[QUOTE=Maurice;8763631]Maybe I wasn't clear (I'll edit it) but the source for BFLATS was for film (hence Shutter Angle), and film doesn't require white balancing or color temperature.[QUOTE]

Ah, I see.
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Old October 13 2013, 10:30 PM   #276
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

captainkirk wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
Maybe I wasn't clear (I'll edit it) but the source for BFLATS was for film (hence Shutter Angle), and film doesn't require white balancing or color temperature.
Ah, I see.
I also edited to add your note about batteries.
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Old October 14 2013, 07:39 AM   #277
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

P.S. Is your avatar Wallace Beery?
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Old October 20 2013, 08:48 PM   #278
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Another topic:

EDITING: Structural Editing vs. Relational Editing

Editing is really where the rubber meets the road in filmmaking. Good editorial can make a good film great or a mediocre film good. The converse is also true, as poor editing can diminish a film. Good editors make actors look better, and bad editors can make a good performance look terrible.

Editing is a HUGE topic, from both a technical standpoint to an artistic one, but in keeping with this topic being a "primer" I thought I'd simply introduce the topic of structural editing as opposed to relational editing to those who may be unaware of it. These are concepts put forth by Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Soviet film director and theorist little known outside film school circles but highly influential on many directors.

Structural editing is merely chaining shots together to make a sequence, which is by and large what fan films do. That is, they simply cut shots together in the most straightforward manner to tell the story. In a way, this analogous to a multi-camera live shoot like a sitcom, where different cameras are switched to as needed, so like an episode of The Golden Girls, where Camera 1 is a wide shot encompassing the entire table at which the girls are having cheesecake, Cameras 2 and 3 are set to do closeups, so the editor switches to 1 when they all sit down, to 2 to cover Dorothy talking, etc. The sequence is proscribed by the script, and the coverage specifically works through the sequence of the scene.

So, while sequential editing is the most straightforward way to tell a story on film, it's often frequently the least interesting. It's akin to watching a play and using your opera glasses to zoom in on specifics. The scene plays out in a very linear fashion in real time you can zoom in and out and that's all.

Relational editing is where film really flexes its muscles and differentiates itself from other art forms with its ability to abruptly change POV, intercut between simultaneous actions in different places, compare and contrast events over time, create visual metaphors, etc.


The image above is a link to a nice, concise 11:45 video which illustrates the basics of Pudovkin's five examples of relational editing,
It's worth watching even if you're not an editor

Pudovkin's books, Film Technique (1933) and Film Acting (1935), are available as a free download on the Internet Archive here (link).
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Last edited by Maurice; October 21 2013 at 12:12 AM. Reason: typo fix
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Old October 20 2013, 10:48 PM   #279
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice wrote: View Post
P.S. Is your avatar Wallace Beery?
I'd guess Orson Welles..
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Old October 20 2013, 11:12 PM   #280
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Sir Rhosis wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
P.S. Is your avatar Wallace Beery?
I'd guess Orson Welles..
Nah, it's not Welles. it looks like a color tinted silent film.
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Old October 20 2013, 11:57 PM   #281
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

That 12 minute video explaining Pudovkin's editing theories is excellent, Maurice.
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Old October 21 2013, 06:18 PM   #282
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice, I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but at the risk of repeating myself, the posts you include in this thread are among the most educational I've encountered on the site. They have been the source of a lot of discussion I've had with my amateur film-making friends, and they always have me thinking about ways I want to produce my own CG-animated stuff.

Please continue to make me repeat myself!

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Old October 21 2013, 09:56 PM   #283
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

While most of the criticism for fan productions is usually pointed at below-professional standard acting, for me unskilled editing is the biggest impediment to the suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy any video or movie. Almost all of us have grown up watching movies and tv shows where the standards are incredibly high. As viewers, we know when an edit doesn't work, because it jolts us like someone sneaking up from behind and tapping us on the shoulder. Editing is damn difficult, but when it's not done well, a production with great actors and a good script, still has no shot of entertaining a general audience.
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Old October 26 2013, 12:05 PM   #284
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice wrote: View Post
P.S. Is your avatar Wallace Beery?
Yup. That's him in The Lost World.

On the subject of editing, is there anything more distracting than when you have two shots in a row from the same camera, which have obviously been filmed at different times, and yet the editor chooses to put them together? This isn't something that I've seen in any fan film (although I'm sure it's happened), but in professional productions.
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Old October 26 2013, 12:20 PM   #285
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Maurice, what Psion said. Really good stuff you post here.
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