Fan Filmmaker's Primer

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

  1. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I do too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Navy UFO video were such in camera effects.

    Had I the money and time, I might try the parallax pan with a shuttlecraft model.

    In other news, ars technica has an article on a huge view screen owned by Jaguar (the car company).

    In terms of practical effects, a good way to do a rocket launch might be to have a metal rocket model simply be the nozzle of an armature/flamethrower mechanism wrapped with green screen material.

    The pad is on the ceiling and the armature is in a slot. You just drop it and the flames and sole rise towards the pad,

    Invert the image, and you have lift off.

    Maybe have an AMT model on a rod attached to a GoPro drone as it flies into a lava lake/furnace or tornado.

    Interesting dog suit
    https://www.odditycentral.com/news/...ith-ultra-realistic-rough-collie-costume.html
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2022
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    ↑↑↑
    Well, yeah except and sparks or debris would fall "up" and ruin the illusion.

    Fire and water are impossible to miniaturize which is why they often are cheated other ways.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    So, this is about something relatively specific but worth watching because what it says The Rise of Skywalker got right is about cinematography in and something fan filmmakers can learn from in terms of camera movement in shots and keeping them interesting and with a nice pace.


    "It's a shame about that script, though."
     
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  4. USS Jack Riley

    USS Jack Riley Captain Captain

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    Pretty much sums up in a more professional way what I thought as I walked out of that movie:

    Beautifully shot but horrible story.

    Still don't know what they were thinking with the sequels other than this storyboard looks good, that storyboard looks good. Let's film them and make up the rest as we go.
     
  5. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    I do admire JJ Abrams' technical ability, but the reviewer summed up my reaction perfectly "exhausting". It's the same reaction I had to ST:Nemesis. Some really good visuals, but a frenetic pace that still doesn't move fast enough to disguise the lack of a strong story.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    It may not be instantly obvious how to apply the suggestions in this video, but it's Absolutely Right™ about how no-budget filmmakers should toss out the things that are beyond their reach and focus on what they have at hand, and—more importantly—let those limitations drive your creativity to do something unique.

     
  7. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    I seem to remember someone here using a quote from Orson Welles about the absence of limitations being the enemy of art...or words to that effect... :vulcan:
    A friend of mine was working on a video about recycling for a county government TV channel. She didn't have access to a character generator, so she mocked up several newspapers with the headlines "Almost Everything You Do" and "Creates Waste". Then took video of them being thrown onto someone's driveway and opened up. Far more effective than regular graphics.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art." That is on and off my signature here. :)
     
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  9. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A few words of warning about using iPhones and other smartphones to record a fan film:
    • If you don't already have an iPhone or a phone with a camera of similar quality, the cost of one can easily be as much as a mirrorless camera with a decent kit lens.
    • Smartphones are just as susceptible to overheating as most mirrorless cameras, and will turn off if they get too hot.
    • Some smartphones don't have SD card slots, so you may run out of memory on location without having a way of getting the video off your phone.
    • If you're using either the built-in microphone on your smartphone or a mic plugged into the phone, you'll probably hear some handling noise.
    • Although movies have been made using the iPhone, they frequently use special lenses attached to the iPhone, such as animorphic lenses. So there may be additional cost involved beyond the iPhone.
    • Similarly, most movies "made with an iPhone" actually use separate audio recorders for sound, and many that don't simply do their sound entirely in post. (Tangerine, for example, used tens of thousands of dollars in professional quality microphones, recorders and other audio equipment.)
    • The noise floor of most smartphones exceeds that of the cheapest linear PCM recorders. A used Zoom H1n can give you better audio, even if you're just using a camera-mounted shotgun mic with a 3.5mm output.
    iPhones and other smartphones are fine for recording video, so long as you know their limitations. However, I can't recommend them for audio, especially if you want to record more than two channels or want to use an XLR microphone.
     
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  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I always appreciate people sharing their thoughts on these matters. But I'm curious if you've personally shot a film on a smartphone to compare the workflow and quality, or are you basing this list off reading you've done? I ask because I've worked on two films shot on them, and while much of what you list is true, it's basically cons and no pros, and you miss a couple of issues specific to phones.

    My take:
    Which, to be fair, are dedicated use devices, so if you buy a phone you get a camera and a pocket supercomputer plus a telephone. If you buy a dedicated camera, you buy a camera. So there's that to a fan filmmaker on a budget.
    In other words...a modern digital camera. :)

    When shooting in hot locations we keep an cold chest on hand and plunk the camera or phone into it between takes.
    That IS a pipeline issue. We always have a laptop on set and cable the phone to it and copy the files. You can also use bluetooth or wifi to offload the footage. The downside is you can't shoot while offloading, which you can clearly do with SD cards.
    True that. One of the two phone-shot films I worked on fitted an anamorphic lens to get a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. But many modern smartphones have two or three different lenses, so you're not necessarily stuck shooting through a single piece of glass.
    Also true, BUT almost every film with decent sound uses a second sound system. As such a Smartphone is not much different in this regard. Given the terrible sound on most fanfilms I doubt these make any functional difference to most fanfilm makers.
    But the same is true of any camera.

    Here's my list of Pros & Cons:

    Upsides:
    • Almost everyone has one, so if you use something like Filmic Pro (to standardize settings) you can...
      • have other members of the crew use theirs as B and C cameras
      • Bluetooth a second phone/tablet to it and have your 1st A.C. pull focus and zoom remotely
    • Gimbals and similar devices for them are much cheaper than for an SLR or video camera due to their small size and light weight
    Downsides:
    • Filters aren't easily mounted without special attachments.
    • Aside from multiple lenses, smartphones don't have optical zoom capability, you're probably stuck with digital zoom, which is less than ideal.
    • You often can't view the camera output live on a dedicated, calibrated monitor
    • You can't swap batteries on most smartphones, so battery depletion is often more of a factor than heat. To exacerbate the issue, many phone mounts and gimbals end up obstructing the power port so you can't keep the phone plugged in while shooting.
    • Low battery warnings can abort recording.
    • Smartphones aren't dedicated devices and so...
      • Sometimes a framerate non-native to the device ends up being slightly wobbly. I ran into this where the frame rate was set to 24 and would wobble around from like 23.98 to 24.01, which caused occasional dropped frames or stuttering when imported to the fixed framerate of a project, and that required some post-production fiddling to eliminate.
      • I suspect sometimes interrupts from other apps running in the b.g. may cause stutters (which is why I shut down all other apps and airplane the phone while shooting)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
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  11. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Before I start, I want to make it clear that I in no way oppose using iPhones for video. My concern is that there are a lot of articles and videos on the Internet that misrepresent how easy it is to create a movie using iPhones, and I don't want people to get the idea that they can simply buy a phone and automatically have everything they need to create something on par with an award-winning indie film. Maybe someday, but we're not there yet.
    Wifi may not exist on location, and many people, such as myself, don't have laptops or iPhone cables, so those would be additional costs to consider. Also, your phone may be competing with the smartphones, tablets and Bluetooth devices of anyone on set, even if you have Wifi. (That's not even considering all the low-budget wireless lavalier systems that run in the same frequency band as Bluetooth and 2.4GHz Wifi.)
    Audio is more important than video. People will tolerate imperfections in your video, and may even think they're an artistic choice, but they'll click away immediately if they don't like the audio. We shouldn't be encouraging fan productions to neglect sound quality, especially when it's the biggest problem in fan films. There's a reason the Tangerine crew recorded all the sound using a Sound Devices 664 recorder, Schoeps microphones, Lectrosonic receivers/transmitters and Sanken COS-11D lavalier mics, and NOT the iPhones they shot the video with.

    To give you an idea of what's possible, let's look at an expensive iPhone. I found a listing for an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB Fully Unlocked for $1,329.99.

    For that much money, I can get a Canon EOS 60D with the 18-136mm kit lens, a Tascam DR-60DmkII, a six foot Amazon Basics XLR cable and a Sennheiser MKE 600 and almost have enough money left over to buy a brand new Rode Wireless Go. That's all brand new. You could probably find it for cheaper second-hand.

    (Note that the vast majority of people watching video on YouTube, your most likely means of distribution for your fan film, are NOT watching video in 4K, so you can easily get low-cost, second-hand cameras that are more than adequate for 1080p video.)

    Those are both cool things you can do with those devices, but using other people's equipment means that you're asking other people to take on the liability of those phones being damaged during the shoot. Another problem is that the owner of the camera might simply take the camera home without giving you footage. Or worse, your camera person may get upset and simply delete the footage. And what happens if you give someone your lock code to get the footage of your phone, and they take more than you thought they would? This is something that doesn't happen with dedicated hardware.

    True, but you can get a Glidecam knock-off for $50, and you can get four DJI Osmo Pockets for the price of a high-end iPhone.

    Actually, that's a serious problem if you're trying to sync up multiple video and/or audio sources from several phones. They may very well desynchronize over time, even if the beginnings are properly lined up.
     
  12. SITZKRIEG!

    SITZKRIEG! Commander Red Shirt

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    Thanks for the advice. I don't have any personal experience but a close relative is a creative director who frequently does commercials sent me a picture of a "shot on an iphone" setup they used years back (admittedly way out of date in terms of current tech since it was several generations ago) back when it was fashionable to claim that. The phone took up less than 5% of the volume on the rig and looked like the tiny core of a steampunk monstrousity in order to get the quality they needed. I know it's out of date but I thought the reality of "shot on an iphone" was hilarious compared with my outsider expectations. :)
     
  13. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    During the filming of Tangerine, they used iPhones because they didn't want to deal with the trouble and expense of getting permits to film. Phones are a lot less conspicuous for filming because everyone has one, and people shoot video of themselves with their phones everywhere, all the time. That's why street photographers prefer small cameras with pancake lenses. They're similarly low profile and don't attract as much attention.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    To my mind this is the smallest concern imaginable. Such hype has followed camcorders for decades, and lots of wanna-be filmmakers have acted like they're making great work using shitty equipment.

    Then Bluetooth. And if you have a smartphone the cable that charges it is usually also a data cable. And this same problem exists with dedicated cameras: someone has to get the footage from the device's memory cards (usually this is done on set to make sure nothing bad happens).

    And as I said upthread, but which you did not acknowledge: no one who cares about sound quality uses the native device audio recording, so is short this is a non-problem re phone v. dedicated cameras.

    Which again ignores that a smartphone is not a single use device. New Shimmer is a floor wax and a dessert topping.

    At this point you're just trying too hard to find reasons not to use a phone and going trying to think of every worst case scenario you can imagine.


    Ummm... People can erase a memory card on set. An editor can disappear with the footage and refuse to hand it over (see NV). etc. etc.

    "Risk is our business" applies to filmmaking as well as starships.

    What kind of comparison is that? And how many SLR-capable gimbals could you buy for the cost of an SLR? What's the point?

    Look, I think it's fine that you want to lay out the pros and cons, and that's a valuable addition to this tread, however your finger is clearly on the scale on the side opposite the phones. IMHO.
     
  15. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    Tangerine is a great film. The iPhone camera work gave the movie a raw and "in the moment" aesthetic that suited the story.
     
  16. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    No, basically you said that people shouldn't worry about their sound because it'll probably suck anyways. Given that this is a primer, people do need to know about sound and what kind of audio quality they can expect from various devices.
    The issue is not merely the SD cards, although I think they're easier to secure than the phones themselves over the course of a day of shooting. The other problem I touched on, but didn't spell out in graphic detail, is that there is a plethora of personal and sensitive data on your phone that, once someone has access to it, can be deleted, altered, copied or shared online without your consent. There are other security concerns, such as malware being installed on your device or people gaining access to your social media or bank passwords. It's basically like giving someone the username and password to a personal computer you always have on you. All of this is not something that could happen on a dedicated camera.
    If you already have an older smartphone, and the camera is your main reason for upgrading, then you should also consider other options. Another thing to consider is that so-called "single use devices" are powered with replaceable batteries and tend to have much longer lifespans than smartphones. The average live expectancy of an iPhones is three years, whereas the Canon EOS 60D has been around for 11 years, and you can still buy new batteries for it.

    Furthermore, these "single use devices" often have more than one use. Recorders are often also mixers and audio interfaces, which can make them useful for recording audio on your computer or doing podcasts. Many mirrorless cameras can now be used as webcams, and they take still photos at resolutions that are often more than double what you'd get with a modern smartphone, and with a larger sensor to boot.
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    That totally misrepresents what I said and I'm not even going to dignify that mischaracterization by debating it.

    Your concerns about data security are a tad OTT. There are ways to securely connect most smartphones to computers without granting unfettered access to all its contents. And if this is still a concern, then the owner of the phone can just a) transfer the data themselves, or b) only allow someone they really trust to handle the phone.

    I already addressed the downside of phone charging v. swappable batteries.

    And no one's saying that the video quality of phones necessarily matches or exceeds dedicated cameras.

    And let's be honest here: many of not most people HAVE a smartphone already, so it's not necessarily a choice between a smartphone and a dedicated camera so much as does this prospective filmmaker want to spend the money on another camera? What makes more economic sense, especially to a (probably) no-budget fan filmmaker: buy a dedicated camera for your film or use the relatively capable one that is probably already in your pocket?

    And, seriously, is this image quality—with zero post work done on it—not good enough for the average fanfilm? (Don't watch it here, small, because it looks like crap small on the BBS page.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
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  18. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Making unsupported claims of "misrepresentation" and "mischaracterization" is not what I'd call dignified.

    In fact, it is you who is misrepresenting what I've said rather than the other way around. I have never, at any time, stated that iPhones had insufficient image quality for fan films. I have, in fact, repeatedly stated that they are perfectly suitable for such purposes from a technical standpoint:
    In fact, I pointed out that cameras that had lower resolution that a modern iPhone would actually work for fine for fan films:
    My position has never been "Don't use an iPhone for video". I'm merely expressing my concern that people are being encouraged to buy and use iPhones without fully understanding the tradeoffs.
    And I supplemented your comments by providing an example of a device that doesn't have that problem.
    As I've already touched on, not everyone has an iPhone in their pocket. I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 in my pocket, for example. I can literally buy a budget 5G Android phone from my phone company and a Canon 60D off eBay for a combined total that's about the same as the price of the cheapest 5G iPhone. I may very well chose to get a high-end smartphone instead of investing in a mirrorless camera, but iPhones and other smartphones are notorious for changing in ways that make older accessories incompatible. Will any lenses I purchase for it fit on the next smartphone I buy? Because I'm pretty sure future Canon camera bodies will support their existing lenses. (In the end, the reason I have such an old smartphone is because I choose to forgo upgrading it a couple of years ago to get a mirrorless camera, a Fujifilm X-T30.)
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I wasn't meaning to suggest you were saying that smartphones can't shoot decent video. My point was that many shoot perfectly fine video for fanfilm uses. If I phrased that incorrectly, my bad.

    I don’t own this thread, but I did start it, and—death of the author and all that—my original intent was to try to provide practical advice on low-friction ways for people to make fanfilms and/or improve the films they are making. As such, I tend not to discourage people from using whatever tools they might have at hand because most of these people are casual hobbyists, not looking to be pro filmmakers.

    As such I think it’s most valuable to point out where people can get the best bang for their buck as opposed to the most “professional” results. Many many people have a smartphone, and others have dedicated video cameras or digital SLRs, but few have decent audio recording equipment, etc. As such I usually recommend spending limited cash and resources where it will make the most difference, be it buying a decent mic and audio recorder, or some lights and reflectors. It’s why I’ve steered away from recommending cameras.

    As a rule many dedicated cameras are going to be better than a multi-purpose device like a smartphone (and, for the record, I try to say smartphone, not iPhone, because I am generally platform neutral), and some may in fact be cheaper. But no one here is suggesting people go buy a smartphone specifically to make films, any more than anyone here is going to say a functional older digital HD video camera should be chucked in favor of an UHD one. On the contrary, the point is that if you have one, and so do some people who will be helping you make your films, you already have the camera base covered, and that’s good enough for most fanfilms makers—who are arguably less concerned about being good filmmakers and having fun making homebrew Star Trek.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  20. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Honestly, cameras are complicated and you need to do a lot of research to find the one for you and get the most out of them. For example, if I had to do it over again, I'm not entirely sure I would get a Fujifilm camera (although I'm not really disappointed with it), and it's beyond what most people could afford. Smartphones can be a great option, especially since many people already have one. My main concern was that articles about their use to make certain films tend to ignore the details of how they were used, and more importantly, when they were not used (such as in recording audio). I apologize if that came across as overly negative. My intent was to tip the scales towards a more even-handed, realistic representation of smartphones-as-cameras, but perhaps I tipped them a bit too far.

    How do you feel about action cameras? The film making subreddit seemed rather negative on them, except when used for their intended purpose. I've actually seen a YouTube video where a smartphone was used as an action camera, and it appears they can perform nearly as well as action cameras in the same circumstances. Of course, you may not want to risk your phone in such situations, but perhaps if you had an old smartphone lying around after an upgrade, it might work well as an action camera.