Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Location:
    Lat: 40.1630936 Lon: -75.1183777
    Outstanding, Maurice! Thank you. A lot of this I'd already worked out through trial and error, but some bits completely took me by surprise.

    I had a film professor at a local college criticize my use of a magenta backlight as "amateurish", but he had no answer to my request for a better color to neutralize bounce from the green screen. Perhaps I simply laid it on too strong.

    Which leads me to my next question ... what do you suggest we use for a green screen? I have a simple, folded sheet of green fabric. When needed, I unfold it, steam out the wrinkles, and [try to] tack it up smoothly. I use a fluorescent light fixture at the floor level to illuminate it, then a magenta backlight on the talent. The trouble with this is that the sheet isn't very wide, so when I have talent far enough in front to avoid spilling shadows on the screen, they have to minimize their movement or they wander off the sides. I'd like to have something big, easily lit, easily transported, and easily stored ... preferably eliminating the steam-before-use step.

    Your tips have made this the most interesting thread on TrekBBS ... thanks again!
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Well, the magenta is basically to counter the spill, and you don't use much of it.

    You should look into multiple sheets of green fabric if the one you have is too narrow. You can also get a roll of 9' x 36' greenscreen paper for about $50, roll it out, use it, and roll it back up. There's also greenscreen foam which doesn't crease the way paper or cloth can.

    I'd suggest multiple light sources to get the green even, ideally one below, one above, and one to either side.

    If you want easy to transport and set up lights, try china ball lanterns, as they collapse flat.

    And thanks!
     
  3. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    For our project, we were able to borrow some sheets of special reflective material, designed to be illuminated by a ring of LEDs that sit around the camera lens. I don't know how much these cost, but I suspect they're quite expensive, so we were lucky to know someone who could let us use it. They pretty much eliminate the need to light the back screen, because it's self-luminescent. We just had to make sure the subjects were well-lit, otherwise it gets a bit contrasty.

    We're still using it now. It's been very handy.

    I think it's this stuff, or something very similar to it.

    EDIT: This is the one we're using.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    ^^^That's sort of like scotchlite material adapted for chromakey use, much like front projection works.
     
  5. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    I tried to find the behind the scenes video about greenscreening in Star Wars - Episode III, but sadly no luck with that so far. There's a poor guy who has to mask/rotoscope everyone's feet for thousands of frames even though they are standing on green. I guess there is no such thing as a perfect greenscreen even in a multi million dollar production.
     
  6. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Ahh, rotoscoping around feet. I know that pain all too well. :)
     
  7. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Sounds like the ILM equivalent of cleaning up after the elephants in the circus... (what? and give up showbiz?)
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Actually, that's the same kind of system they use in the Newseum news museum in Washington DC.

    Here's some video on one of these systems:

    I'm not super-impressed by the quality shown here, but that's because the video they've uploaded is fairly low-rez.

    I read a few reviews of this stuff and they warn you that the screen itself is easy to damage or dirty, and not cheap to replace, so keep that in mind if you're going to look into such a solution. I'm a little unclear on how big a screen you can effectively work with using such a system.
    Was this foot roto with the system you described above?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  9. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    We have three sheets of it, it's probably about 10 feet wide in total, usually more than enough to get a few people together in shot. We don't have any of that floor covering stuff, so if we need feet to be in shot, it's roto only.

    The screen does get a bit dirty through continual use and dragging out of storage, but it's held up well so far and still gives pretty good results. The main issue I've noticed with it is that the light from the LEDs doesn't easily get through small gaps. So the space between people's legs or under their arms can often come out grey because the green light isn't hitting the area behind them properly.

    Heh, if we were making some professional thing, I'd probably consider alternatives, but it's served our purposes well enough. :)

    EDIT: Chromakey demo from our first film. This was all shot and keyed in SD back then, so excuse the quality of the comps! We've got a little better since.:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flH46E9lhq0
     
  10. JimTheBuilder

    JimTheBuilder Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Location:
    In a van, down by the river in Vermont
    THIS has been a HUGE pet peeve of mine for like, ever! LOVE THIS!!
     
  11. JimTheBuilder

    JimTheBuilder Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Location:
    In a van, down by the river in Vermont
    A beautifully shot and cut scene. The tight cutting belies the urgency of the conversation. Something to keep in mind, surely!
    We've got a pretty tense scene in Ajax that takes place in the conference room ...one of those "Ah-ha! It's all revealed" scenes that would require something like this...with a little rehearsal, I'm sure we could pull this off.
     
  12. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    The final scene of The Dark Knight is also a great example. We have a triangle of Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon and Batman, and Gordon's family in a fourth corner, but we never see two of them in the same frame.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY7xhnJtlkE[/yt]

    When Dent walks to Gordon's wife and puts the gun to her head, the Dent-Gordon line crosses the stationary camera, so Gordon turns to the right of the frame when he talks to Dent. Then Dent takes his son, moves the line again, and then Gordon talks to the left of the frame.

    Then Batman appears, but without an establishing shot of all three of the characters, we still know where he is in relation to all the others, because of the line.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Okay, it's been forever since I posted in this thread, but I just did a quick shoot and thought I'd share a couple of quick observations.

    In the past I've several times mentioned using paper (aka China Lantern) lanterns as illumination. Here's a photo from Friday to illustrate just how evenly you can light a small greenscreen with them.

    [​IMG]

    The green here is a roll of 53" wide chromakey paper in two strips (the seam was minimized after this photo was taken). It is lit entirely with four 16" paper lanterns with color correct photo optic bulbs, two on each side, one above the other, set about 5' from the screen. The actors are about 10' from the screen so that the lighting aimed at them doesn't cause hotspots on the green nor do they cast their shadows on it.

    You can see the lanterns are backlighting one of the actors a bit, but I liked the rimlight otherwise I'd have flagged the balls to keep that from happening.

    FYI, that roll of 53"x36' greenscreen paper can be purchased at film/photo expendables store (or even ordered from Amazon) for anywhere between $25 and $40 depending on where you are. There are also typically rolls twice that width for about twice the price.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  14. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010

    Camera angles are ultimately a creative choice, but I have my own golden rule that goes beyond "the line".

    A camera angle represents the audience's point of view. Ultimately film is a voyeuristic experience. So the optimal camera angle would be where you'd want to focus your attention if you were wandering around the set, with the added ability to fly or pop from one place to another. This also helps determine how much of a closeup to apply.

    There are a million reasons to deviate from this, but in standard one-on-one dialogue, this works best.

    Here is a real-world example that everyone can relate to. If you are sitting at a table with a person seated to your left and right, you would probably move your head back and forth to look at the speaker. If you noticed someone getting really upset, you might hold your attention on him or her even when they aren't speaking.

    For action scenes, different rules may apply, but for the talky stuff, this seems best to me. When you add a third speaker into the mix, or they begin to move around the room, it makes things more complicated, naturally.

    One of the things I don't like in dialogue scenes are medium two-shots where you see both actors in complete profile. It's just not possible to read the full performance from an actor in profile. That's why stage actors always skew their posture towards the audience. Nevertheless, I see these sorts of two-shots quite often, even in films by masters like Hitchcock. There is an economy in this, as you can maybe avoid doing extra takes from individual closeups or over-the-shoulder, but you lose a lot in the process.
     
  15. Andymator

    Andymator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Well, Hitchcock's two-shot is designed to create a feeling in the viewer using the positioning of the camera. He doesn't place the camera where the viewer wants to go, he places the camera where HE wants the viewer to go. There are all kinds of subtleties when using cinematography to create mood and tone, and Hitchcock is literally a master of this.
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    What you're referring to is "intimacy" and it's why the angle generally tends to get closer to face-on the closer the camera gets.

    Known as "cheating", as in "cheat your gaze a little to the right."


    Yep. He knows what he wants you to see and what he wants you to focus on. There's some great examples of what seems counter-intuitive camera work in Dial M for Murder where he puts objects in the foreground so that they appears to be between the characters further away, creating this weird sense of separation and of people having something to hide. It's really apparent when you see the film in 3D as it was intended.
     
  17. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Going back to the paper lantern lamps, my producing partners and I just released the first two episodes of our webseries "Reasons Not To Date A Magician" and we absolutely relied on several of them for much of the lighting in our setups.

    Granted, we had several other lights with us, but we got a very nice warm aura for the episodes with those paper lanterns.
     
  18. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Location:
    _C_
    I like to sing song covers and make music videos to post them on youtube because just audio and a picture seems like it's too simple. When I do song covers I envision things and like to try and make my videos match my vision.

    I must have some weird gift, because most of the videos come out great without a lot of messing about with sets and camera angles to get what I want. 99% of the time I just set up and it comes out how I want, and extra effects are just there for artistic reasons.

    I have a Sony Bloggie and an Olympus digital camera, which is mostly for still pictures but can take short, silent videos too. (Sorry for the lack of techie stuff ^^; ). The Bloggie lets me shoot HD(though I rarely use it in music videos) and does have sound.

    First and foremost: When I do my song covers, I record the vocal track first and sing along/lip sync(if it's really really high pitched) for the actual shoot and dub the recorded track in during editing. I don't have a recording studio, so I just run my Bloggie, play the track I'm singing to on headphones, record in my garage and then put the music and my voice(with the proper reverb/echo effects I want) together on my comp. That gets added to the music video in editing.

    In this video where I covered "Deliver Me" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc8aEZ4Foi0 I did so much to get it set up! It's the most "set uppy" video I've ever shot.

    To get that video, I lit my bedroom curtains with a huge craft light my mom keeps in the garage. It's like a big neon light you can bend on its stand so it'll point wherever you want.

    I set the Olympus camera up and hooked it up to my TV. Then I got in front of the camera and did a few takes of me in closeups, of me further back and of my hands.

    I put the Bloggie in front of my TV and recorded the takes off the TV screen.

    I stuffed everything onto my computer where I have MoviePlus(poor man's Sony Vegas) and that's when I noticed some flickering on the TV caused by the camera--no idea why it happened. I got concerned about that causing seizures since the curtains behind me are bright blood red, so I took a footage of static on my TV screen and edited that into a few places where the flickering was bad and it made it look like the signal of the viewer watching the TV screen is trying to break up. It turned out to be a real cool effect, so I put it in the beginning and end of my video too! :)

    Then it became a matter of which shots to use during which parts of the song. I deliberately set out to give the video sort of an 80's glam vibe.



    I recommend craft lights...they might be good lights or serve as fill lights in a pinch. The one my mom has wasn't that expensive. I think it was like 50 bucks.

    Other videos where I used the craft light:

    "Walking in the Air" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66rK0ZVfRiE
    "Pie Jesu" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsx1Fii-O5A


    There are two where my only light is one candle:

    "Paint the Sky With Stars" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKe9ordk4uo
    "Candle on the Water" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKGEO4yCEeo


    My thought: Be daring with the lights.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    ^^^Be daring...but shoot tests. ;) I've shot a whole video using nothing but LED flashlights. You can get away with some really unusual light sources but they have their limitations.

    Thanks for sharing your observations and work!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  20. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    *BUMP*

    A friend who works for Sony shared this article today, which she said basically covers exactly what she does for her job at Sony. Noting myself that almost ALL fan films tend to botch up credits and how they are used and what they "mean" I thought I'd share here for future reference:

    ASSEMBLING THE BILLING BLOCK

    And while the MPAA rules don't exactly equate to or are necessarily usable with most fan films, I can tell you right now as a professional working in scripted drama TV, you lose a little bit of credibility when your credits are all over the place, inaccurate, or just nonsensical or even just plain too long. It even glances over what the difference between "A _____ film" vs "A film by ______" is (hint: one pays you more money than the other).

    And yes, while the billing block is in fact a different beast than the credits of a film, this is nonetheless a great article and one that I think would be an invaluable tool for everyone to have for their reference.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013

Share This Page